Sorbie Bornholm Founder & CEO, Greg Kofford, (who also happens to be my dad) is often asked for advice on trading and investing. He has a long reading list that he recommends for anyone interested in learning more. Since I am new to the financial services industry, I figured I should tackle this reading list. If you’d like to join me on this educational journey, follow Sorbie Bornholm (@sorbiebornholm) on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, and #sorbiebornholmbookclub. I would love to hear your thoughts on these books too!

To kick off the Sorbie Bornholm Book Club, I started with Storming the Magic Kingdom: Wall Street, the Raiders, and the Battle for Disney by John Taylor and published in 1987. It was an appropriate book to start with for two reasons:

  1. I love Disney. As a kid, I was obsessed with the movies. My mom reports that I watched Rescuers Down Under so often that she had to hide the VHS tape. Disneyland family vacations were the bomb so that I could meet the princesses and fill my signature book. As an adult, learning about Disney’s business models and how they use customer insights and data analysis to maximize productivity and income has been a fascinating hobby. Disney has made entertainment into a science.
  2. Early on in my dad’s career, he worked for the Bass Brothers. As you’ll learn if you read this book, the Bass Brothers rode in as the white knight at a time when Disney was vulnerable from multiple angles, including the threat of hostile takeover and an internal struggle about its strategic direction and leadership. My dad started working for the Bass Brothers a few years after the dust settled. At this point, the Bass Brothers’ Disney investment had paid off handsomely, and their office was decked out in rare Disney artifacts, including a 10 foot Mickey.

Basically, Disney has been a big part of not just my childhood but has also played a role in my dad’s early career, and therefore by extension, in mine too.

SUMMARY: Storming the Magic Kingdom is the tale of a corporate battle for not only Disney’s equity but its soul as well. The book examines the various players’ intricate moves, and how one of the biggest and most successful public companies today became incredibly vulnerable in the 1980s. The author does a great job of sprinkling in interesting tidbits while simultaneously focusing on the overall big picture. 

REFLECTIONS: From this book, I feel like I have a better understanding of the challenges CEOs face in juggling the management of both the company’s customers and products (in the case of Disney: films, theme parks, and merchandise), as well as the company’s shareholders and stock. It was also interesting to read about the nuanced moves each player made and why. Even the smartest players were sometimes outwitted or forced to compromise. Equally interesting were the personal relationships between the players and the peek into Wall Street insiders’ and institutional investors’ perspectives. Storming the Magic Kingdom is a case study on the importance of leadership and business relationships within our complex financial systems.

NEXT: The next book for the Sorbie Bornholm Book Club will be The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort.

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