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7 Lessons Every Young Entrepreneur Can Learn From Walt Disney

7 Lessons Every Young Entrepreneur Can Learn From Walt Disney

The Walt Disney Company is a multinational mass media corporation valued at $45.429 Billion. It is the second largest broadcasting and cable company in the world and it has shaped the childhoods and pop culture of millions, probably billions of people. Quite simply it is the most well known company in the history of the world.

And it all started with one man.  

Few people have changed this world to the magnitude that Walt Disney has. He proves that circumstance and education do not dictate what you can become. His life lessons serve as excellent reminders for young entrepreneurs.

1. You must be a salesman.

“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.” – Walt Disney

Sales gets a bad reputation, but make no mistake, selling is the most important skill you can master. And as Walt said, dreams take money and money comes from selling. Walt believed in himself and his dreams and could therefore convince others to believe in him too. Halfway through making Snow White, Disney ran out of money to finish the film that was termed “Disney’s Folly.” Even his own family begged him to give it up, but Disney was undeterred. He personally traveled to different producers and showed them the raw footage and convinced them to finish financing the film. Snow White became an instant success and ushered in the Golden Age of Animation. To finance attractions at Disneyland, he persuaded the television studios to finance building the park in exchange for original Disney programming. Guess what the programming was? It was basically an advertisement for Disneyland! This genius plan not only financed the park, but by the time it opened there were millions who couldn’t wait to go! It proved to be one of the most successful media campaigns ever done and it helped grow Disneyland into the international destination it remains today.

2. Leadership is inspiration, innovation and focus.

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality”. -Walt Disney

The key to Walt Disney’s leadership is that he was an incredible storyteller. It’s one thing to tell your employees to do something, it’s another to inspire them to action. Walt would tell them a story. He would go into extreme detail and make it come alive for them. He would inspire his workers and make them a part of that story and as a result he would get more from them. When he was first pitching his animators on the story of Snow White, he went through the entire story, acting out the characters, even doing their different voices and movements. Walt had a unique ability to hire people more talented than he was and to focus and coordinate their attention towards a common goal. He admitted that he was a terrible animator. So he hired the best he could afford and focused on innovating the company. He also knew his workers. He knew what they were capable of and didn’t accept anything less than their best. He may not have been quick to compliment, but he was always clear about what he visualized and expected.

3. Always be constantly improving.

“Whenever I go on a ride, I’m always thinking of what’s wrong with the thing and how it can be improved”. -Walt Disney

Walt believed in the future. He insisted that Steamboat Willie have the sound synced and recorded, unheard of for a cartoon at that time. Before Snow White, there was no such thing as a feature length animated film. After it became a huge success and literally changed the film industry, it led to the success of several more beloved Disney classics like Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Fantasia. Walt Disney could have rested on his laurels, but that wasn’t his style. Instead, he completely switched gears and set out to build an amusement park where parents and children could have fun together. Once Disneyland opened, Walt would walk around the park, personally testing all the rides, noticing if anything was out of place and asking the guests their opinions. If he noticed something was wrong, he would personally see that it was fixed. As his animators could attest, good enough was never good enough for Walt Disney.

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    4. Develop a high tolerance for risk.

    “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

    Walt took a lot of risks in his career. Several times the future of the entire Disney company hung on whether a venture was a success or failure. A few times Walt even had to mortgage or sell his personal possessions. He never did this lightly. He would carefully weigh out both sides and make a decision for bold action and, once decided, never wavered. In 1955, Disneyland was the biggest gamble in the history of American business. Walt struggled to find financing and his own family, including business partner Roy Disney, begged him to give it up. At the time, nothing like Disneyland had ever been attempted, so there was a general consensus that it was impossible. Walt pushed forward anyway. If Disneyland had failed, it would have bankrupted the company. Today, the Disney theme parks bring in BILLIONS of revenue and millions of visitors each year.

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    5. Change your attitude towards failure.

    “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney

    Walt Disney failed, a lot. His first studio, Laugh O’ Grams never made a profit. But the most notable is the fiasco of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He lost everything, his studio, his equipment, his animators and his creations. But from the ashes of that immense failure rose one of the most beloved characters ever created. On the train home from learning he had lost Oswald, Walt created Mickey Mouse.

    6. Believe in yourself, even when everyone say’s you’re crazy.

    “When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way. Implicitly and unquestionable” – Walt Disney

    Walt Disney had a unique relationship with his brother, Roy Disney. Walt would pitch an idea to Roy. Roy would say no and try to talk him out of it. Walt would continue anyway, and Roy would eventually give in and get the project financed. Throughout his entire career Walt was told what couldn’t be done. He was told no one would sit through an animated feature film. He was told you couldn’t mix animation with real life actors. He was told his idea for a theme park would fail miserably. Someone even told him that Mickey Mouse was a bad idea because a mouse would frighten women. He proved that just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t make it impossible. Impossible is a word of a small minded person and Walt Disney dreamed big. He had an unshakable belief in himself and what he was doing; that was all that mattered.

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    On the opening day of Disneyworld, five years after Walt’s death, someone remarked to creative director Mike Vance that it was too bad Walt Disney didn’t live to see this day. Vance replied, “He did see it. And that’s why it’s here”.

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      7. Resiliency is an entrepreneur’s best friend.

      “The difference in winning and losing is most often not quitting” – Walt Disney

      It took Walt 16 years to get the rights to make Mary Poppins, now considered one of the best films of that time. The problems he faced with author P.L Travers are so infamous it has been made into its own movie. He was turned down 302 times when trying to find financing for Disneyland before striking a deal with the television studios. And in the most unbelievable story, he was fired from his first job ever at a newspaper for not being creative and innovative enough! He went on to own that same company. Resiliency is the ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult circumstances. Walt faced many difficulties that would have made the average person give up. Walt was able to keep pushing because he believed in himself and in his dreams, giving him the resiliency to work hard and make them come true. He believed in doing whatever it took to get the job done and, therefore, he got results that far exceeded what anyone else could have imagined.

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      When Walt was asked what the secret to his success was, he thought for a while and then he said this: “I dream, I test my dreams against my beliefs, I dare to take risks, and I execute my vision to make those dreams come true.” Today the rules of success are no different. If Walt Disney, a man with limited education from a poor family, could create an entertainment empire from almost nothing, what’s stopping you from dreaming just as big?

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      Last Updated on February 25, 2020

      15 Personal Goals for Work to Help You Succeed

      15 Personal Goals for Work to Help You Succeed

      It’s easy to blend into the crowd at work. The majority of workers choose to settle for mediocrity and anonymity; especially if they work in a large or virtual work environment. It’s much easier to go to work every day and contribute just enough to meet your job’s requirements than it is to leave a lasting impression on your coworkers.

      What isn’t easy is standing out.

      By setting personal goals for work, you can intentionally work towards getting noticed which will propel you towards getting your dream job.

      Do not settle for mediocrity and do not settle for anonymity. Dream big and stand out from the crowd. Here are 15 examples of personal goals for work to help you stand out from your coworkers and lead a successful career.

      1. Self-Mastery

      Self-Mastery is all about deepening your awareness of your skills, strengths and weaknesses. Once you identify what makes you unique and what you’re most passionate about, use that awareness to develop your skills even further.

      Use your awareness of your weaknesses to identify areas of improvement. By practising your self-awareness in these areas, you will demonstrate an ability to self regulate your development and growth.

      2. Being Grateful for Where You Are

      Take a moment and reflect on how hard you worked to get where you are today.

      How many times did you apply to your job? How many interviews did you go through? How many hours have you put in?

      You’ve worked hard to get to where you are today. Be grateful of all of the hard work you’ve put in to get you where you are today.

      By practising gratitude, you open yourself up to receive what’s next.

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      3. Staying Excited for What’s Next

      The perfect vibrational stance to be in to be actively working towards your goals is to practice gratitude for your current situation and to feel excitement for what’s coming next.

      Expect better things to come. Anticipate that you will accomplish your goal and that you’re working towards your dream job. Be open to receiving what’s coming your way next.

      4. Celebrating Each Others’ Differences

      As coworkers, we all bring different strengths to a team environment. Introverts bring deep thought to current issues and extroverts do well in busy meetings and discussions. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is an excellent measurement of personality differences and brings an interesting review of your team’s personalities interact with each other.

      If possible, request to have an MBTI done with your coworkers so that you can learn more about your similarities and differences; or recognize the differences in your team’s personalities and appreciate that they each contribute different values to the group.

      5. Using Your Team’s Differences to Your Advantage

      Once you learn more about the different personalities on your team, you can work more strategically with your coworkers. Some coworkers may present as introverts who prefer to take time away to review information before making decisions. Other coworkers may present as extroverts who excel in group discussions and facilitating presentations.

      Once you identify the different strengths of your coworkers, you can plan projects and group work according to each other’s personality strengths.

      6. Managing Conflicts Effectively

      If conflict arises between yourself and another coworker, take time to assess how you’d like to work through the situation rather than reacting in the heat of the moment.

      Request a private meeting with the other coworker and present the facts in an objective manner. Initiate a practical conversation to discuss the issue of conflict and then find a mutually-beneficial solution together.

      Doing so will show your coworkers and your boss you’re capable of dealing with emotionally-sensitive discussions while keeping a cool head.

      7. Becoming a ‘Yes’ Person

      Volunteer for new projects and special assignments. Be the first person to put up your hand.

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      If your boss is looking for someone to step up, be the first to volunteer. It shows you’re engaged and gives you the opportunity to learn new skills.

      8. Saying ‘No’ When Necessary

      This may seem contradictory to the previous point, but this is not!

      If you’re close to burnout or have a lot going on in your personal life, choose to say no to additional work if you must.

      Be aware of your own mental state of wellness. If you’re incapable of taking on more, say no rather than saying yes and being unable to submit impeccable work.

      If necessary, share with your boss privately that you’re not in the right place to take on work but you intend to get back on track and as soon as possible.

      9. Showing Humility

      It’s not possible to be perfect at everything all the time. If you make a mistake, own up to it.

      Let your boss know or coworker know that you made a mistake and you want to correct it. Tell them that you have learned from this experience and you will do things differently going forward.

      Practice humility so that you may demonstrate a willingness to do better.

      10. Modeling Work Life Balance

      Make your own self care a priority so that you’re allocating time out of the office to your exercise, health and nutrition goals.

      Carve out time before or after work to taking care of you. Propose walking meetings during the day or try organizing a group fitness classes at lunch. Invite your coworkers to join you in trying a new yoga class.

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      Show your coworkers that you’re committed to work life balance so that you can show up as your best self while at work.

      11. Under Promise, Over Deliver

      If you commit to finishing a project by a certain time, be certain that you will do what you said you’re going to do when you said you’re going to do it.

      Do not commit to completing a project using an unrealistic time frame. If you’re unable to deliver, you will inevitably harm your reputation and will negatively affect others’ expectations of your abilities.

      Rather than committing to more than you can accomplish, commit to what you’re capable of or slightly less so that you can over deliver on your promises.

      12. Finding Your Own Answers

      Rather than quickly turning to your coworkers or your boss when you have questions, do your best to find your own answers.

      Review company policies, best practices and previous situations. Use critical thinking to determine how to best handle a situation and demonstrate that you’re able to make sound decisions when it’s required.

      After doing your research, present the situation to your boss and share how you would handle the situation. Ask for guidance to see if you’re on the right track. By doing so you’ll demonstrate drive and ambition.

      13. Asking for Help

      If a situation arises that is above your pay-grade and you must ask for help or guidance, do so with humility.

      Respectfully ask your boss or coworkers for their help. Let them know that you are grateful for their assistance and that they’re willing to share their knowledge. Offer to be of assistance to them if it’s needed in the future and repay the favor.

      Here’re some tips for you: How to Ask for Help When You Feel Silly to Do So

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      14. Offering Help

      If you can see a fellow coworker is struggling, offer to help them out. Offering your help will demonstrate your ability to work as a team player.

      If your workplace has hired a new employee, offer to take them under your wing and show them the ropes. Let your boss know that you’d be happy to show them around.

      It will demonstrate your seniority in the workplace and your interest in fostering teamwork and morale.

      15. Taking a Brain Break Regularly

      Take a few moments whenever you can for a mini meditation. In the bathroom, the coffee room, or on the subway on your way to work, take a few deep breaths and center your mind.

      Slow down your heart rate and tune in to your inner self. Remind yourself that work can be stressful but we don’t need to let the stress affect us. Return to this grounded and centered state whenever you feel out of alignment.

      The Bottom Line

      Use this list of personal goals to skyrocket your career path at work. Let your actions speak louder than words.

      Demonstrate to your boss and your coworkers that you don’t intend to settle for mediocrity; you intend to stand out from the crowd and will do so by implementing personal goals and actively working towards your dream job.

      More Tips About Goals Setting

      Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

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