It didn’t take long for presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin to reference Bob Iger’s long-rumored political ambitions.
The author of Leadership: In Turbulent Times introduced the Walt Disney Co.’s chairman and chief executive at this morning’s Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit with a nod to all the political speculation, joking that Iger “might be running for president.”
Iger smiled and silently shook his head.
After long minutes discussing Iger’s leadership style and the qualities (hard work and optimism) that brought him to the helm of one of the most storied companies in Hollywood, Iger returned to the elephant in the room.
It was purely coincidental that Kearns Goodwin was leading the conversation, Iger noted, not a signal of his ambitions.
“You mentioned my running for president. I am not doing that,” Iger said, emphatically. “We keep coming back to some of these themes, but no, that’s off the table. I’n running the Walt Disney Co.”
Iger certainly has a few items left on the executive to-do list, among them closing the $71.3 billion acquisition of much of 21st Century Fox and integrating its film and television business into Disney’s fold. He only glancingly touched on the pivotal deal, which he described as positioning the nearly century-old entertainment company for success in the 21st century.
The Disney executive said he learned from the company’s founder, Walt Disney, and from his longtime friend, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, that it’s important to take bold risks.
“If you’re going to fail, fail daring greatly,” Iger said. “In this day and age, if you’re timid, if you’re not capable of taking risks, you’re not going to enjoy success or create success for your company.”