It took less than 24 hours to post sign and string ropes across the more than 200 lagoons and canals that run through Disney properties in Orlando.

And while workers worked tirelessly to put up “Beware of Alligators and Snakes” signs, Robert (Bob) Iger, CEO of Disney, sat on the edge of a hotel bed in Shanghai, China weeping and shaking uncontrollably.

Willow, his wife, sat next to him, quietly holding him. His children sat uncomfortably in the adjoining room, wondering what was wrong with dad.

Bob had just hung up from a call with Matt Graves.

The day before, Matt and Melissa Graves’ two year old son, Lane Graves, was attacked and killed by an alligator at the Grand Floridian Hotel.

Bob was in Shanghai for the opening of Disneyland China. It was a venture that cost more than $6 billion dollars and 18 years of intense focus, time and energy.

That day, Bob had every minute of his day planned. Press conferences, tours, lunches, speeches.

But, there he was sitting on the bed crying. He was grieving for a 2 year old boy and a family he’d never met and did not know… but one that was going through unspeakable grief and suffering.

As Bob later wrote about that day…

“It was a happy day. It was also the saddest of my career.” ~ Robert Iger

People Want to Be Treated As People

When you read the news today, there are endless stories filled with anger, sadness, conflict, war, and even blatant hatred.

Social media is overflowing with a lack of civility and contentious debates.

I recently posted my personal views and opinions on socialism and was immediately attacked by people I did not know. Within a few hours, I had over 100 messages of anger, accusations and hate. Again, all from people I did not personally know.

The reality is that people everywhere are hurting.

There is so much of fear and anger and distrust.

People want leaders that will lead out in civility, kindness, compassion and love.

It Is Time for The Velvet Glove 

Yes, I know, as CEO’s we need to be stoic, brave, leaders, type A dominant figures, and all those other things.

Those qualities are invaluable.

It is what drives the human race forward and allows us to survive when things get hard.

Imagine a world run by social butterflies and snowflakes (those people are needed, too… just maybe not as CEOs… LOL).

And in that drive to lead and get things done, sometimes it is wise to remember that bees are more attracted to honey than vinegar and that a soft word turns away wrath (like millions of employees quitting their jobs because they didn’t feel respected according to Pew Research).

You’re Invited To Change the World

My invitation to you today is very simple:

Do good and be kind to people.

You don’t have to agree with them.

You don’t have to placate or pander to them.

You don’t have to give in or promote unqualified people.

You can stand your ground.

You can lead with authority and assertiveness.

You can charge forward.

Just remember to slide the velvet glove on that iron fist.

Be humane.

Be civil.

Be kind.

Be compassionate.

Be genuine.

Be grateful.

Be happy.

Be genuine.

Be grateful.

Be happy.

Your people will love you all the more for it… and people that love you are more easily persuaded, more easily led, and more productive.

What do you say? In all our achievements, shall we spread a little love and light as well?

It’s time… the world needs it… and as leaders, we can influence the world for good.

After all, isn’t that what we do?

Let’s begin today…