I bumped into Lenn Millbower, who, at the time was part
of the Disney magical experience. We both marveled at
how actress Amy Adams captured all the essence and
mannerisms of a Princess in the movie.
I’ve always admired the way that Disney does its business. Just for the heck of it, I’ll sometimes float around the grounds of Disney or Downtown Disney and I’ll intentionally throw a piece of paper on the ground just to see how long it will stay there before one of the mega-trained Disney employees arrives to collect it. Trust me; it’ll be a short wait.
Part of the reason is, save the great textile giant, Milliken & Company, of Spartanburg, SC, there may not be a better trained work force on the planet. Milliken, with whom I’ve done considerable work over the years, requires 40 hours of continuing education out of each of their employees every year just to keep your job.
People like my speaking colleague Lenn Millbower are the core of training that makes Disney magical.Lenn is a creative and dynamic instructional designer and facilitator who spent considerable time with Disney Learning Solutions, the Disney University, the Disney Institute and Walt Disney Entertainment. An accomplished arranger-composer, Lenn is skilled in the psychological application of music to enhance learning.
Today, Lenn has retired from Disney and now runs Offbeat Training LLC, an organization dedicated to enhancing the enjoyment of learning through the infusion entertainment-based techniques that maintain attention, foster retention and increasing better results.
The author of four books, Lenn is a guru in training circles. CLOUT Credibility™ Creator is his behavioral self-assessment tool for training teams. His book Show Biz Training is the definitive book on creative techniques of the entertainment industry. He wrote Cartoons for Trainers, a popular collection of 75 cartoons for every training situation. His book, Training with a Beat: The teaching Power of Music, is the foremost book on practical usage of music in learning situations.
To me, some of the coolest things Lenn has done in his career are to train-the-trainers who train all new costumed Character Performers at Disney. When I retire, I want to be a Disney character. What an awesome way to enjoy retirement.
No matter how hard you try, you can’t tick a Disney Character off. I’ve tried. The closest I got was trying to get a picture with Mickey with a beer in my hand. Mickey doesn’t do pix with drinkers. Walt would flip in his grave (if he’s in one) if he knew that Minnie was cozying up to an inebriated guest. It ain’t gonna happen folks. You either put the beer down or no picture. Just another Disney standard on which they will not veer.
Lenn’s train the trainers job was challenging because he had to write the manuals that trainers would use to convey message to the characters. He would not only have to take the author’s version of what was written and interpret it, he would then have to vicariously train the character through the trainer whom he was training. Easy you say? Not!
It’s not just about training them on what to say and how to say it. It’s about training the character how to stand, gesture and move. In short, it’s about synchronizing the entire process for the very best results. It’s also about training the character what “not to say.”
Every time you see Snow White or Cinderella or Mary Poppins do their magic, you are a witness to the by-product orchestrated by Lenn Millbower and his cronies. Easy you say? What about when some kid asks Snow White if she likes apples? Get real gang. It was an apple that put Miss White to sleep. She doesn’t want to go there. Lenn’s job was to put words in Snow White’s mouth. “Oh, I much prefer gooseberry pie.”
So the next time you’re enjoying some of Disney’s magic, remember Lenn Millbower. He's the real mouse man.
Lenn Millbower is the author of several Learnertainment® focused works loaded with tools, tips, and techniques for trainers, teachers, speakers, and communicators.