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Disney CEO Bob Iger: 'People just don't want to follow someone who is a pessimist'

Chief executive officer and chairman of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger and Mickey Mouse look on before ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, November 27, 2017 in New York City.
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Bob Iger believes in looking on the bright side. 

In a "Mad Money" interview on Tuesday, Iger discussed his newly-released book, "The Ride of a Lifetime," with CNBC's Jim Cramer, who asked the CEO how people maintain optimism these days.

"Optimism is a core principle of good leadership," Iger tells Cramer. "People just don't want to follow someone who is a pessimist. I remember as a kid seeing WWII movies and you'd have some captain or lieutenant or officer of some sort saying, 'OK, we're going over this hill, come on fellas.' If that guy is a pessimist, who's going to go over the hill with him? I think if you equate that to business, it's in many respects somewhat similar."

This year alone, the company has launched the Disney+ streaming service and acquired 21st Century Fox in a $71 billion deal – its fourth powerhouse acquisition under Iger, along with Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm.

Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger attends the World Premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at the Dolby, El Capitan, and TCL Theatres on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California.
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Iger told Good Morning America on Monday that these acquisitions, though risky, were promising, because each company had great talent within it. "I just knew that if we showed them respect, gave them support, that they would continue to thrive even under Disney," he said. 

Beyond optimist, other core principles of leadership Iger reveals in his book are boldness, love of what you do and a commitment to treating people well. He includes details about a tumultuous upbringing with a father who he says had manic depression – an experience that shaped his belief that no one is perfect.

"It's an interesting world," Iger tells Cramer. "Change is so rapid, so profound, and it creates a huge amount of anxiety, in some cases cynicism."

"That's actually why I like Disney so much," Iger says. "Because what do we do? We manufacture fun, we enlighten people, we tell stories that are optimistic, where the future is bright, good will triumph over evil, there's value in adventure, the value of love, friendship, family, respecting your elders...that's Disney. In this world, what better time to be in this business?"

Proceeds from the sale of "The Ride of a Lifetime" will be donated to educational initiatives that support greater diversity in journalism.

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