Disney’s kingdom is large, yet each operation within it talks and works with each other to spread the Disney magic everywhere. It’s a nearly perfected system of synergy that was established in the 1990s amid Disney’s financial and cultural boom by Jody Dryer.
Dryer, now retired from her 30-year career at Disney as the head of corporate synergy, was asked multiple times by different people about the secret to her success. Her short answer – her faith.
Her longer answer can be found in her new book titled “Beyond the Castle: A Guide to Discovering Your Happily Ever After.” In it, she reveals her life journey from being a Disney fan to a Disney corporate executive, as well as the trials and successes she experienced along the way. Through it all, Dryer knew that there was meaning to everything she experienced in her professional and personal life that led her to happiness everyday.
“I’m a Christian,” she said to DisneyExaminer in a phone interview. “I don’t think you can separate who you are (or what you believe) from your life. It’s all intertwined.”
She believes that all people, not just Christians, all yearn for a ‘happily ever after’ and that much of what Disney does in its storytelling reflect that. “That’s why I loved working for the company and helping spread those stories to different people in different ways,” she said. “Our life stories are journeys of faith, in a way, where we’re seeking what joys are to come in life till the very end.”
Dryer emphasized that the whole point in the book wasn’t to compare her Christian life to everything that Disney puts out as product. While the book was published by Zondervan, a Christian publishing brand, she wanted it put out a practical book that would encourage, enlighten, and challenge. “My heart for the book was to be able to use Disney as a doorway in to having larger conversations about life.”
She continued, “It’s a business book, it’s a life lesson book. My hope is that all people can find that something meaningful about their story as they read mine.”
Each chapter in Dryer’s book begins with a Disney story, taken from one of the animated movies, and then goes deeper into how the themes in each of them, combined with the practicality of Dryer’s own career and personal story, can be helpful in an aspect of life.
Like many Disney stories, however, much of life aren’t filled with happy moments. In response, Dryer told us that her book isn’t about ignoring those moments, but realizing that everything will still be OK in the end. “When I say ‘happily ever after’, I don’t mean a denial of bad situations,” she said. “I mean how can you go through those tough moments and accept that the end will be where you need to be. That’s faith.”
As for Dryer’s own ‘happily ever after’, she says that being with people, encouraging them, and meeting them at their needs has been central to her life. Her heart for writing the book, she says, is to be an extension of her life’s mission of “…reminding people that they are a part of a bigger story that is a very happy, forever one.”
When asked if people might find faith through her words and narrative, Dryer hopes for that, too. “We’re living what we were built for,” she concluded. “I hope that everything I do and say will speak to who I am beyond the castle.”
“Beyond the Castle: A Guide to Discovering Your Happily Ever After” is now available online, as an audiobook, and in stores.
Our special thanks to Jody Dryer for taking the time to contribute this story!