Disney's story is one of hope and perseverance. He began his journey as a cartoonist, selling his art for a living and never knowing whether the cartoons would be a hit, a miss, a profit or a loss. But he never gave-up, and after learning a few life lessons he created a phenomenon.
Walt Disney Starts Out
Disney was interested in entering the movie business but struggled with the idea of becoming an actor or director, so he chose his cartoons as a way to break into the profession. He began by creating joke reels for movie theaters and created a business, hiring a fellow colleague as his first employee. Disney made a deal with a local movie theater owner to create cartoons for the theater. Unfortunately, Disney failed to oversee his finances properly and had to file for bankruptcy ending this business.
After the disappointment of the bankruptcy, Disney moved to Hollywood, California and attempted to make his dream of opening an animation studio into a reality. He began by creating cartoons showcasing "Alice's Wonderland" and sent his works to a New Your distributor. The woman in charge of the company decided to show Disney’s work to her husband, who had been searching for a cartoon about rabbits to turn into a comic. The fellow contacted Disney, who developed a cartoon for him called "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit."
The cartoon comic was a success and Disney traveled to New York to negotiate for additional compensation. Instead, the gentleman offered Disney less money and threatened to take his employees from him. Disney would not take less money and lost both the deal and his employees. After the experience Disney vowed he would not work for another person again.
Disney And His Studio
Walt Disney created his own studio and the atmosphere was extremely lighthearted. He would play games, like baseball, during lunch breaks with his employees. He strived to make his studio a positive environment for his workers and wanted them to feel comfortable in the event they needed to stay overnight. Disney was able to hire several employees with little recourses, and once said "The Great Depression was my greatest ally in assembling a staff of topflight talent."
Disney was also extremely dedicated to his work, working long hours in his studio he would often sleepover because he got so caught up in the work. Disney was developing one of his most valuable traits, the ability to recognize a man’s creative potential and force him to achieve it.
Along Came Mickey & Snow White
After the disappointment of Oswald, Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse, the modern day icon that has grown to become a legend and continues to enter homes and hearts throughout the world today. Mickey Mouse became popular shortly after its premiere. The personality of Mickey is said to mirror that of Disney, and his voice was even used for some of the early cartoons. Disney's 'Mouse' became a huge sensation and he didn't want the attention to diminish so he created another series called "Silly Symphonies." These were not as popular as the original but Disney found a way to get people interested in the series by investing in Technicolor, then adding color to his animations.
Disney's next project was the full length movie feature "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." His brother and wife advised him not to produce the movie but it was a dream of Disney's, and so he decided he had to go through with it. Disney used all of his money for the project and secured a bank loan by showing the bankers a clip of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The movie was a huge success and Disney repaid the bank loans within six months of its release.
Disney Creates Disneyland
Another one of Disney's dreams became a reality with the opening of Disneyland. Disney worked tirelessly alongside his employees and construction workers every day. He rode the park rides over and over to make sure they would be appealing and pleasing to a crowd. On opening day, Disney was found cleaning-up and sweeping the Mark Twain boat.
Disney took a number of risks in business and succeeded several times, however, there were also many times when his plans didn't work out. The two constant factors in Disney's life were his dreams and his will to succeed. Disney pursued his dream and would not let anyone or anything stop him. Even when others took advantage of him, he would not give-up vowing instead to never let it happen again.
Walt Disney, The Success
After the feature "Victory through Air Power" was released, Disney Productions lost $436,000. When Disney's brother Roy told him they were in debt to the bank for a half million dollars, Disney began to grin and then burst out laughing. He told Roy "I was just thinking back, do you remember when we couldn’t borrow a thousand dollars?" They both broke out into laughter and then figured out what to do. Disney later admitted "It was a stupid thing to do as a business venture. It was just something that I believed in, and for no other reason than that, I did it."
In success or defeat, Disney always demonstrated his leadership and was a role model for his employees. Disney was dedicated to his dream and he worked extremely hard to make his cartoons a success. Those who worked closely with him learned never to say "This can't be done," and Disney himself once said "You know better than to kill an idea without giving it a chance to live. We set our sights high. That’s why we accomplish so many things. Now go back and try again." Disney helped his staff go beyond their perceived limits, and in doing so made them and his company a success.
Disney participated in creating the plans for Disney World (to be located on the east coast) however, he died of lung cancer the day before construction began. At the opening Roy Disney dedicated Disney World to his brother by naming the park "Walt Disney World."
The legacy of the unschooled cartoonist from Kansas City who went bankrupt on his first movie venture, yet dared to continue to pursue his dream resulting in Disney Productions and Parks, will live on longer than our time. Disney learned from his mistakes, went after what he wanted no matter what the obstacles and made his staff predominate at their strengths. He had a passion and created a company that is known worldwide. Walt Disney is a supreme example and an inspiration for businessmen, businesswomen, and everyone everywhere. Never give up!
The story of Walt Disney ~ He dared to dream and had the will to succeed.
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