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Lessons From Walt Disney On Money Problem, Entrepreneurship, And Imagination

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Jan 29, 2013

"I am amazed by the difference that one human being can make. Think of classical music without Mozart or Stravinsky; of painting without Caravaggio, Picasso or Pollock; of drama without Shakespeare or Beckett. Think of the incredible contributions of Michelangelo or Leonardo, or, in recent times, the outpouring of deep feeling at the death of Steve Jobs (or, for that matter, Michael Jackson or Princess Diana). Think of human values in the absence of Moses or Christ" Developmental psychologist Howard Gardner famously said in response to 2012 Edge Question.

We have seen many more times that making a difference is an act of willingness and courage and the world is like a fertile land for the people who truly want to make a difference. The absence of obstacles in the process of realizing our dreams is an unwise expectation that only ignites despair.

We have learned from the life of successful entrepreneurs that we would never be supported sufficiently to do what we want to do: finding love is always an exchange of comfort and stability. Money will never be available to the people who need it most. But nothing can stop a passionate soul who wants to make something happen. 

[blockquote source="Developmental psychologist Howard Gardner"]I am amazed by the difference that one human being can make. Think of classical music without Mozart or Stravinsky; of painting without Caravaggio, Picasso or Pollock; of drama without Shakespeare or Beckett. Think of the incredible contributions of Michelangelo or Leonardo, or, in recent times, the outpouring of deep feeling at the death of Steve Jobs (or, for that matter, Michael Jackson or Princess Diana). Think of human values in the absence of Moses or Christ[/blockquote]

In a brilliant interview with NBC in 1966, Walt Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966)-a man of many things- echoed the same and spoke of what makes an entrepreneur and why we should aspire for more despite our limitations:

NBC: Walt, why did you pick Anaheim as the site for Disneyland?

WALT: The Disneyland concept kept growing and growing and it finally ended up where I felt I needed two-three hundred acres. So, I wanted it in the Southern California area, there were certain things that I felt that I needed, such as flat land, because I wanted to make my own hills. I didn't want it near the ocean, I wanted it sort of inland, so I had a survey group go out and hunt for areas that might be useful. And they finally came back with several different areas and we settled on Anaheim because the price of the acreage was right.

But there was more to it than that. And that is that Anaheim was sort of a growing area. The freeway projection was such that we could see that the freeway would set Anaheim as sort of a hub. Well, that's how we selected Anaheim.

NBC: Do you feel Anaheim has lived up to expectations?

WALT: In every way, the city fathers have been wonderful. They've given us wonderful cooperation right from the start and they are still cooperating.

NBC: What has been your biggest problem?

WALT: Well, I'd say it's been my biggest problem all my life - it's money. It takes a lot of money to make these dreams come true. From the very start it was a problem of getting the money to open Disneyland. About 17 million dollars it took. We had everything mortgaged, including my family.

We were able to get it open and for ten or eleven years now we've been pouring more money back in. In other words, like the old farmer, you've got to pour it back into the ground if you want to get it out. That's been my brother's philosophy and mine too.

NBC: What plans for the future do you have at Disneyland?

WALT: There's a little plaque out there that says, "As long as there is imagination left in the world, Disneyland will never be complete." We have big plans.

This year, we finished over $20 million in new things. Next June, I hope, we'll have a new Tomorrowland; and starting from the ground up, building a whole new Tomorrowland. And it's going to run about $20 million bucks.

NBC: What steps have you taken to see that Disneyland will always be good, family entertainment?

WALT: Well, by this time, my staff, my young group of executives are convinced that Walt is right, that quality will win out, and so I think they will stay with this policy because it's proven it's a good business policy.

Give the public everything you can give them, keep the place as clean as you can keep it, keep it friendly - I think they're convinced and I think they'll hang on after - as you say, "after Disney."

Via Re-imagineeringf


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