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Salesperson/Deal Maker vs. Manager; Lesson from Disney’s CEO

I recently read the autobiography of Disney CEO, Robert Iger, and I of course loved it.

Iger started out at ABC television in 1974 and quite literally clawed his way to the top – enduring adversity and setbacks that few of us mortals could have ever endured.

He ended up at Disney after Disney bought the holding company (Cap Cities) that owned ABC.

Iger fought viciously with Disney’s former chairman (Eisner) for control, he was friends with Steve Jobs and orchestrated the enormously successful Pixar acquisition, and he ushered Disney into the streaming age among many other things.

He also worked extraordinarily long hours (a recurring theme).

Here is a link to a Variety column titled “10 Takeaways from Bob Iger’s (book) The Ride of a Lifetime.”

The section of the book I found most interesting though was the part about super-agent Michael Ovitz’s brief tenure as President of Disney in the mid-1990s.

I blogged about Ovitz last year and frequently reference it – Best Sales Book Ever – Ovitz Autobiography.

DEALMAKER AND NOT A MANAGER

Ovitz failed miserably as President b/c, according to Iger, he was a consummate dealmaker and NOT a manager.

And I LOVED THIS LESSON b/c I so often see this same confusion in the real estate and mortgage industries.

We constantly see extremely talented salespeople who want to get into management and/or start their own businesses.

But the skillset required to be a super salesperson is rarely the same as the skillset required to be a super manager.

I myself suffered from the delusion that my sales-skills translated directly into broader business and management skills in the early 2000s.

As a result, I plunged into ventures I knew nothing about and of course lost a ton of money.

In addition, when we first started to expand JVM into an actual business a little over ten years ago, my wife Heejin was appalled by my total lack of management skill.

I lacked the necessary consistency, professionalism, systems, vision, communication skills, HR skills, accounting skills and big-picture thinking that all successful managers must have.

I was quickly overwhelmed by all the demands of running a business and I was frustrated b/c I could no longer just apply my sales skills to everything else.

It took much practice, a lot of chastising from my wife and team members and books such as E-Myth, Traction, Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and High Output Management to finally teach me some basic skills.

I mistakenly believed that the importance of actual management skills was vastly overstated and that I could simply “teach by example” by working really hard.

I was ridiculously and comically wrong.

Running a business is extremely hard work and management skills really are a thing.

I am still a work in progress but at least I recognize the reality of the situation.

This is a reminder to all of you super salespeople looking to start a business or to move into management – be sure to understand what you’re getting into.

Jay Voorhees
Founder/Broker | JVM Lending
(855) 855-4491 | DRE# 01524255, NMLS# 310167