Why Every Employee Needs To Start To Act Like They Work For Disneyland

What brought this to mind was a story in the Washington Post (and this has gone viral on social media and across most major news services) about a woman, we’ll call her Karen (search on Karen), who (along with friends) was caught on video attacking her uber driver because he wanted her to wear a mask.  She has now been banned from Uber and Lyft for life, and we’ll likely hear she has lost her job and any chance of a career shortly.  The driver she abused is on track to get $40K, which could fund a civil complaint against her for threatening his life, and she could still be charged criminally for assault and theft (she took his phone).  

People lose their tempers all of the time, but now that almost every Uber and taxi has cameras, cars are coming with cameras (Tesla’s implementation is the best currently). If you are near a Tesla, you are on camera.  Everyone effectively has a camera. Your opportunity for freedom and a job-ending event is far more likely.  

One of my first real jobs was for Disneyland, and they had a specific rule that I think everyone should take to heart.  

Let’s talk about why Disney may have the best policy for those that otherwise are likely to commit career suicide.  But that policy does need to be updated.  I’ll close with something else everyone should know that could save your life or the life of your child.  


Disneyland had a formal school you went to to be trained on the basics of any job in the park.  A significant portion of the training was on the one rule that, if broken, would instantly get you fired.  It was how I knew that Gina Carano was going to be fired before she was fired.  The rule was that when you were in public, you carried the brand, and if you did anything that tarnished that brand, you’d be terminated.  

They called this on-stage vs. off-stage.  While you weren’t in costume or connected to Disney, they didn’t care what you did, but when you were in costume or otherwise connected to the brand, you were to toe the company line.  And that line was that, regardless of the provocation, you were to be friendly, you were to behave, and you were to remain in character.  It later reminded me of these scenes in Roadhouse where the Cooler, Patrick Swayze, explained his rules.  

But what has changed since then is that we are always on stage with social media and cameras virtually every place.  This change means that behavior that might have gone unpunished in years past will likely not go unpunished today.  It means that regardless of the substance you’ve consumed if you act out, it’ll show up in social media, your boss is likely to see it, your CEO is likely to see it, your Pastor is likely to see it, your significant other is likely to see it, your parents and friends are likely to see it.  These things go viral, and suddenly you are a YouTube sensation and unemployable and maybe divorced and in jail.  

You have to come around to the concept that you are on-stage and people are always watching and ready to, or already are, capturing your unacceptable behavior on camera.  Oh, and there is an even bigger problem. If they don’t capture you on camera one time, they can use the last time you were captured to point out this behavior. Suddenly, instead of being innocent until proven guilty, you go to guilty until proven innocent.  

Wrapping Up:  The Two Things We Should Teach Every Child And Every Employee

I’m adding children to this because I can recall one of the common reasons new hires out of college got terminated, and that was misbehaving in public.   These events were mostly long before Social Media but, for some reason, kids would join a firm without realizing their behavior could get them fired.  One guy got fired for masturbating at work, another for not taking no for an answer from a female co-worker, and this was after he was warned about getting fall-down drunk on an airplane and getting kicked off.  That last guy was a minority and seemed to think that, due to diversity rules, he couldn’t be fired.  Minority status may provide you with advantages now, but it doesn’t excuse behavior that does and should result in your being fired.  

Adults and children need to be trained to realize that they are on stage and what they do can and will be held against them in the court of social media, which is neither fair nor kind.  Before I leave you, there is one other thing I think everyone should be trained in, and that was the hand sign for distress.  If you see someone making this sign, you need to call the police and help.  If you are at risk, you can use that same sign to get help if you need it.