I’m proud of my kiddo.
I’ll share something with all of you that I think is simply amazing: my daughter is following a dream she had from the time she was 3-4 years old. Let me give you the history….
From the time that my daughter was very little, she and I bonded over a few awesome things: our love of hockey (Go Rangers), our love of baseball (GO YANKS), and, most of all, our love of all things Disney. The first movie she and I ever watched in a movie theater was The Emperor’s New Groove (one of my all-time favorites and one that should be shown some love inside the theme parks, in my humble opinion). When she broke her wrist at the age of 5, the only movie that New York Hospital had available (on VHS) in the little exam room was The Jungle Book…which we watched 5 times in between X-rays, examinations and the application of her tiny pink cast. The first time she was ever on an airline at the age of 4, our destination was Disneyland. After I moved into Manhattan, she and I would take the long walk from the upper west side to Times Square, where the Disney Store was situated, just to look around. (A quick not on this one: my daughter was disappointed when they moved The Disney Store from its amazing 3-story location on 5th Avenue to its current spot in Times Square, to the extent that she decided to write Bob Iger a formal letter expressing her displeasure at the current state of affairs as it pertains to the company’s New York City presence. She was 10 years old at the time, and I believe the first line in her airing of grievances began…
Dear Mr. Iger,
My name is Chelsea Kolinsky. I’m a Disney Vacation Club member, an annual passholder, and I’ve been a Disney shareholder since the age of three. I’m a huge fan of Disney – so you can imagine my dismay when I heard that the Disney Store was closing on 5th Avenue, only to move to Times Square. I just visited the new store for the first time, and its lack of Muppet representation vexes me…..
The fact that she received a response from Disney’s corporate offices was pretty awesome.
Over the years, she never lost her interest in all things Disney, from the movies to the hotels, to the theme parks and even the cruise line. Since before she put pen to paper to voice her firm opinion to the CEO of the company, my kiddo continuously told me one thing: “Dad, I’m going to work for Disney. Just you wait and see. One day I’ll run the whole thing. Then you watch as I turn Goofy’s Barnstormer ride into an Emperor’s New Groove roller coaster, I’ll get them to make a whole bunch of new videos for Soarin’, so that you can feel like you’re flying all over the world….and I’ll even become buddies with Neal Patrick Harris”.
(The Barnstormer idea: completely awesome. The Soarin’ idea: completely awesome. But becoming buddies with Neal Patrick Harris? That’s the best…idea…..ever. The dude rocks.)
So fast forward now about 9-10 years. My kiddo is now 20 years old. Shes’ been in college in Florida, slowly finding her way and figuring things out, as all 20 years are prone to do. Her roommate pushes her to fill out an application for the Disney College Program (“DCP”). For a while, she refrained from throwing her name in the hat – because she was scared of being denied. But her roommate and very good friend persisted, and she finally overcame the fear of coming up short and sent in her application. Since I had moved from New York City to Orange County, California, in May of 2018, she decided to increase her chances of acceptance by shooting for a DCP spot in either Disneyland or Walt Disney World. The pushed the button on the application, and waited to hear from The Mouse.
She came out to Southern California to visit me in the middle of August, and we had a fantastic time together. She loved the vibes out on the west coast, and she couldn’t wait to return. But while she was out here visiting me, she got the message: she made it to the final round of interviews! The last step in this process was a 30-45 minute phone interview with two Disney representatives. So she spent a fair amount of time preparing for the questions she may be thrown by watching tons of YouTube posts on the DCP process, and reading a bunch of write-ups on Google. The morning of the call, she felt ready….but very nervous. I told her to just be herself. She knew more about the company and its main revenue generators than some of the employees, I was sure of that. The phone rang, and she locked herself in my bedroom for 45 minutes in order to focus. When the door finally opened again, it was all over. Now – all we had to do was wait. According to her interviewers, she would hear back in 3-4 weeks via phone call. If she doesn’t receive a call, final decisions would be made public at some point in October.
My buddy and I both headed to the airport together the next day, as she needed to get back to Miami for college and I needed to head to Kansas City, Missouri for a work meeting. We gave each other a huge hug, and headed to our separate gates.
Three days later, I’m still in Kansas City, participating in a rather large meeting downtown. I had my cellphone on the board room table next to my pad and pen, just in case of emergency, and to reference my work email. All of a sudden, my phone begins to vibrate ferociously. It’s my daughter. Since I was in a meeting, I needed to mute the phone – I figured I’d call her back when I got out of this marathon mind-numbing discussion. a minute later….she called again. And then again. Now I was worried. I excused myself from the room, grabbed my iPhone, and looked for a quiet place to return the call. Since the walls of the firm’s boardroom were made of glass, I could see most of the meeting participants as I dialed my buddy’s cell number. She picked up on the second ring, and the conversation went something like this, from what I recall:
Chelsea (crying uncontrollably): “DAD!!!!! DAD!!!!!!”
Me (freaking the hell out): “Chel – what happened, buddy?”
Chelsea (still crying / sobbing): “DAD!!!!!! I GOT IN!!!!! I GOT IN!!!!”
Me: “OK, bud – got in to what?” (please don’t those three words – I GOT IN – be immediately followed by “trouble”, “an accident”, “to that cult I was telling you about, that requires you to swear allegiance to a one-eyed cat named Gretchen” to or – worst of all – “to that Coldplay concert”)
Chelsea: “IN TO THE DISNEY COLLEGE PROGRAM!!!!!!!!! I’M GOING TO WORK IN DISNEYLAND!!!!!!!”
As a complete knee jerk reaction, I exclaimed “HOLY SHIT!!!!” a bit too loudly, not thinking that the glass walls of the boardroom were NOT soundproof. Immediately, 18 sets of scowling eyes were staring at me….but for a few moments, I didn’t give a crap. I’ll deal with them in a minute – but first, I want to hear all about this.
Four months later, in mid December of 2018, Chelsea moved in with me, into a small apartment in Irvine, CA. She began her DCP semester as a lifeguard in January, and graduated from the program in late August. Toward the end of the program, she put her name in the hopper for a full time job with the company. Again, the nerves and the stress were sizable…until she was awarded a part-time slot as a lifeguard. She was now an employee of the Mouse, just like she dreamed she would be.
It’s been a year, and she’s still working for Disney while gearing up to finish her Bachelor’s Degree.
Today’s motivation is directed at my kiddo. As she begins to work on her career at this amazing company, just the quick reminder: you can be extraordinary. You can do anything.