his new surroundings, freshly minted President/Chief Operating Officer Frank Wells walked into Eisner’s office, greeted him
warmly and sat down across from him. Wells and Eisner had
crossed paths occasionally during their tenures for rival Hollywood studios but the pair had never worked together before.
Disney brass had wanted Wells and Eisner to be co-CEOs, but
the former politely stepped aside when the latter insisted on sole
ownership of the position. Eisner surprised himself by blurting
out the demand during a top-level powwow several weeks prior
and was equally as stunned by Wells’quick consent.“I found my-
self wondering about Frank Wells,” Eisner confesses in his book.
“What kind of person would spend his life so successfully climb-
ing his way up the corporate ladder and then, at the very top, step
aside for someone else—and someone else, for that matter, he
didn’t know very well?”
The introverted kind, more likely than not. By assuming a co-
leadership position at Disney—an iconic and beloved American
brand—Wells was stepping into a very powerful (and at times,
unforgiving) spotlight, an environment better suited for Eisner’s
more colorful, dominant, extroverted personality. Indeed, Wells
was more comfortable as the“cerebral leader” of Disney, prefer-
ring to handle the company’s mundane day-to-day operations
and leaving the public relations showman role to his partner.
Eisner and Wells’ matchup not only proves that opposites attract, but also that contradicting personalities (introverts and extroverts) can be incredibly successful business cohorts. The two,
along with executives like Walt Disney Studios Chairman Jeffrey
Katzenberg, turned the complacent company around, restoring
profit to the theme parks, creating a major retailing business and
rejuvenating the movie-making division with such hits as“Beau-ty and the Beast,”“Pretty Woman,”“Sister Act” and“Aladdin.”They
also helped Disney became a leader in home video sales.
The company’s stock market value soared from roughly $2 billion when the pair assumed their jobs to $22 billion by 1992, according to published reports.
During the decade they worked together, Wells was the yin to
Eisner’s yang. When Eisner became overly excited about something, Wells would gently reel him back to Earth with practicality.
If, for example, Eisner wanted to build a Mickey Mouse-shaped
hotel, Wells would remind him of the costs involved.
Such professional harmony was evident from the duo’s very
first day at the office. After exchanging pleasantries, Eisner discussed the day’s to-do list, then waited for Wells to respond and
retreat to his own office.
But Wells never made a move to leave. After about 15 minutes,
Eisner finally asked if the two were going to sit there together.
“Well, yeah,”Wells said, I thought we would.”
Eisner politely explained to his new partner that he liked his
privacy and offered to find another office. Wells quickly abdicated
his seat and settled into the neighboring berth. Neither was alone
for long though, as the two met nearly two dozen times that day
to share news and compare notes from phone calls.
“My partnership with Frank Wells at Disney represented the
For show information: Messe Düsseldorf North America
150 North Michigan Avenue
Suite 2920 _ Chicago, Il 60601
Tel. (312) 781–5180 _ Fax (312) 781–5188
email@example.com _ www.mdna.com
For hotel and travel arrangements: TTI Travel, Inc.
Tel. (866) 674–3476 _ Fax (212) 674–3477
16; 19 NOVEMBER 2015
International Trade Fair