6 Business Lessons From Walt Disney

Of course it’s a cliche, but this creative ‘visionary’ was much more than a wide-eyed curious man, he was one of the greatest strategic leaders of his time, concealing it in child-like enthusiasm and energy.

By reading his biography, watching countless documentaries, visiting his parks, and of course watching the TV/movies I’ve learned so much and have been so inspired by all the work Disney and his brilliant successors have been able to achieve.

The creativity side has been so well covered, I figure’d I would include the strategic/management side of Walter Elias Disney.

Here’s the most important things he taught me about business & strategy:

He truly imbued a sense of massive importance, that whatever his team was working on would truly change the world, everything a little bit of enhanced theatre, I’m sure he felt doubts at times when things fell through, but never showed it and inculcated everyone in his dream and how earth-shattering, even the most minute projects they undertook, would be.

“We” versus “I”. He would never use “I” when speaking to others. It wasn’t him, it was the team. They were a family, no man or woman higher than the other, just all busting ass to put out something great, it was the only way he could’ve gotten the obsessive work ethic he did out of people. Always use “we”, forgot “I.”

Stoicism. Disney was a stoic in the hardest of times, even at a young age. He faced extreme adversity, even filing for bankruptcy when his first project failed. But it somehow didn’t damper his spirits or confidence and he continued to push forward, almost oblivious to the idea of quitting and finding a normal job/life. So rare, so scarce in today’s society. I’m not flirting with the idea of glorifying failure, but I am saying when it does come having this mindset instead of the “woe is me” attitude that is typical today can take you so far.

Avoiding mental traps. For his own amusement parks, he wanted no one from an amusement park, just young men who were willing to learn & work, because no matter how creative the other amusement park men would be, they’re still amusement park men who would think in that way, not able to think outside the box in new ways and he didn’t want an amusement park, he wanted an experience. Bring in talented people from diverse areas who are willing to learn & work hard, that’s where innovation will come.

Learning from others’ mistakes. He would go to other amusement parks and see the congestion of it all, then he would proceed to measure their sidewalks to understand, with his engineers, how much wider they would have to be to avoid this problem. People want to be so ‘original’ that they covet not seeing what’s out there already, learning from the countless mistakes others have made makes it so easy to learn FOR FREE! Disney saved himself much stress, time, and money.

“A fool learns by experience, I prefer to learn by the experience of others.” -Bismarck

Surround yourself with talent & take care of them. Disney would pay his team triple what they would make elsewhere, with all sorts of benefits, and free this & that which has become huge in the big Silicone Valley start-ups of today, he knew his team would do a better job when appreciated this much, appreciation is indeed one of the most craved human emotions. They never felt the lack of appreciation around him.

As you can see Disney was way more than a creative genius tucked away somewhere remotely, he was an extremely efficient manager who knew how to get the best out of people, how to treat them, how to accommodate their needs & make them feel appreciated.

Walter Elias Disney: visionary, creative genius, and now *business management guru* if he were alive today, he’d be making YouTube videos like the other business ‘guru’ guys on there, but kicking their ass in the process.

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