Bob Iger, chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company and a 1973 alumnus of Ithaca College, has been named Showman of the Year by Variety.
According to the entertainment magazine, the honor is “meant to signify a studio, producer, director, thesp, network or other entity that dominated the showbiz landscape in the past 12 months.”
In an interview with Variety, Iger talked about making the leap from journalism into business. He was a television-radio major at Ithaca College and dreamed of being the next Walter Cronkite, but after working for a small cable channel in Ithaca, he decided that it wasn’t right for him.
“I could tell pretty quickly that, while I might have had the ambition, I didn’t have the confidence on the air,” Iger told Variety. “I just didn’t think I was good enough or quick enough or confident enough.”
Iger has since found success in the business world. During his tenure as CEO, Disney’s operating profit has more than tripled. Iger’s decision to acquire Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm have paid dividends, and he has expanded the company’s theme parks, including the opening of Shanghai Disney in June 2016.
Even with all of his accomplishments, Iger continues to work hard. He told Variety that he draws inspiration from Jiro Ono, a 91-year-old sushi chef who has won Michelin stars and runs one of the most successful restaurants in the world, but still works every day in pursuit of perfection.
“There’s a whole notion of ‘[If there are] no more mountains to climb, what’s going to drive you?’” Iger said. “What hit me more than anything was, ‘Well, wait a minute — don’t ever stop wanting to be better — helping others to be better.’”