CANTON – Hall of Fame Village CEO Michael Crawford has written a book focused on the lessons he learned in his previous job for Disney when landing a big deal in Asia.
Explaining the nuances, courtesies and business practices of a different culture, “From the Mouse’s House to the Penthouse: What I Learned from Making Deals, Building Brands, and Running Businesses in Asia” serves as an insightful guide to doing business in another part of the world while drawing contrasts to American corporations and boardrooms.
“Going to Asia was a big transition for me,” Crawford wrote in the book. “Arriving in Japan was like being a child all over again, learning how to walk, how to read, how to talk.”
Only a handful of pages reference his current job heading the entertainment campus in Canton being built and developed around the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And he draws on his past experiences as a high-ranking executive for The Walt Disney Co. and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts when explaining the transition of returning to his home state of Ohio to lead an ambitious project that he says could be transformational for Stark County.
“It’s taken working around the world to prepare me for my current role … working for the Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company,” he says in the book.
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“It’s on a smaller scale, but it still has the same challenges,” Crawford wrote. “It’s still dealing with the government. It’s still dealing with politics and bureaucrats. It’s still dealing with the community and the perception that you’re taking away resources that could be used for something else.
“You’re still trying to help people understand the strategic value of building a unique destination in a particular location.”
Where can you buy Michael Crawford’s book?
Released last week, the roughly 240-page book is available for purchase online digitally and in both paperback and hardcover at https://www.amazon.com/Mouses-House-Penthouse-Building-Businesses/dp/154454183X. The audio version of the book will be released in about a month, Crawford said on Twitter.
“He negotiated the deal of a lifetime: the first Disney theme park in mainland China,” Amazon says of the author in promoting the book.
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Crawford wrote on Twitter: “I’m humbled by the opportunity to offer people the chance to hear my stories and hopefully learn from some of the key business highlights of my professional career with (The Walt Disney Co. and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts) .”
Crawford oversaw the creation of a Walt Disney resort in Shanghai. The Willard native and Bowling Green State University and University of Notre Dame graduate is the former senior vice president and general manager of the Shanghai Disney Resort and president of Shanghai’s Walt Disney Holdings Co.
While leading the Shanghai Disney Resort project, he negotiated the creation of the property, which includes an amusement park, two hotels and a shopping and entertainment center, and he developed the management company that operates it.
Crawford moved on from Disney in 2014 to become president of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Asia Pacific region.
From Disney to Four Seasons to Canton
In 2018, Crawford took the top job at the Hall of Fame Village, overseeing a project that includes youth sports fields, as well as the Center for Performance dome where events are hosted, including the recent home and garden show and an amateur boxing event.
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Also on the entertainment campus is the Play-Action Plaza, which includes a Ferris wheel-style ride and a zip line with plans for a third ride. Other components include the recently-opened Don Shula’s American Kitchen, with plans for The Brew Kettle eatery and brewery, a BetRivers sports betting retail site, a Pizza Oven eatery, Topgolf Swing Suite, Donald Driver Driven Elite Fitness center and other attractions.
The Village also promotes and coordinates events at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, including this summer’s Concert for Legends featuring the Zac Brown Band, comedian Kevin Hart’s May 18 show and regular season games for the USFL’s New Jersey Generals and Pittsburgh Maulers.
A football-themed indoor water park is under construction with plans for an adjacent Hilton hotel.
The publicly-traded Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Co., which Crawford heads, is developing the Hall of Fame Village.
Tokyo or Canton: ‘It’s always the same story.’
Referencing the Hall of Fame Village project in his book, Crawford says whether it’s doing business in Tokyo, Toronto or other places around the world, “it’s always the same story.
“People go through a process a little like the stages of grieving. There’s denial, when they ask, ‘Why do we need to do this? There’s anger and questioning and depression, then finally acceptance comes. Just like anywhere else, you use trust to build relationships,” Crawford wrote. “It’s no different in Ohio than anywhere else. People have to understand what they’re signing up for.”
Although Crawford has headed a multi-billion dollar project for Disney, he writes that the Hall of Fame Village project is even more challenging in some respects.
“This is a community where I still have relatives a half hour away asking me, ‘How is it going to work? Is it going to work?’
“I’m on the news a lot and in the press a lot. Doing a deal for Disney in Shanghai brought some pressure − but it’s nothing compared to doing a deal in the place you grew up, with your mother, your aunt, and everybody else asking you how it’s going.”
Reach Ed at 330-580-8315 and [email protected]
On Twitter @ebalintREP
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Hall of Fame Village CEO Michael Crawford writes book about Disney deal