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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 August 16, 2018

      10 Huge Differences Between A Boss And A Leader

      10 Huge Differences Between A Boss And A Leader

      When you try to think of a leader at your place of work, you might think of your boss – you know, the supervisor in the tasteful office down the hall.

      However, bosses are not the only leaders in the office, and not every boss has mastered the art of excellent leadership. Maybe the best leader you know is the co-worker sitting at the desk next to yours who is always willing to loan out her stapler and help you problem solve.

      You see, a boss’ main priority is to efficiently cross items off of the corporate to-do list, while a true leader both completes tasks and works to empower and motivate the people he or she interacts with on a daily basis.

      A leader is someone who works to improve things instead of focusing on the negatives. People acknowledge the authority of a boss, but people cherish a true leader.

      Puzzled about what it takes to be a great leader? Let’s take a look at the difference between a boss and a leader, and why cultivating quality leadership skills is essential for people who really want to make a positive impact.

      1. Leaders are compassionate human beings; bosses are cold.

      It can be easy to equate professionalism with robot-like impersonal behavior. Many bosses stay holed up in their offices and barely ever interact with staff.

      Even if your schedule is packed, you should always make time to reach out to the people around you. Remember that when you ask someone to share how they are feeling, you should be prepared to be vulnerable and open in your communication as well.

      Does acting human at the office sound silly? It’s not.

      A lack of compassion in the office leads to psychological turmoil, whereas positive connection leads to healthier staff.[1]

      If people feel that you are being open, honest and compassionate with them, they will feel able to approach your office with what is on their minds, leading to a more productive and stress-free work environment.

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      2. Leaders say “we”; bosses say “I”.

      Practice developing a team-first mentality when thinking and speaking. In meetings, talk about trying to meet deadlines as a team instead of using accusatory “you” phrases. This makes it clear that you are a part of the team, too, and that you are willing to work hard and support your team members.

      Let me explain:

      A “we” mentality shifts the office dynamic from “trying to make the boss happy” to a spirit of teamwork, goal-setting, and accomplishment.

      A “we” mentality allows for the accountability and community that is essential in the modern day workplace.

      3. Leaders develop and invest in people; bosses use people.

      Unfortunately, many office climates involve people using others to get what they want or to climb the corporate ladder. This is another example of the “me first” mentality that is so toxic in both office environments and personal relationships.

      Instead of using others or focusing on your needs, think about how you can help other people grow.

      Use your building blocks of compassion and team-mentality to stay attuned to the needs of others note the areas in which you can help them develop. A great leader wants to see his or her people flourish.

      Make a list of ways you can invest in your team members to help them develop personally and professionally, and then take action!

      4. Leaders respect people; bosses are fear-mongering.

      Earning respect from everyone on your team will take time and commitment, but the rewards are worth every ounce of effort.

      A boss who is a poor leader may try to control the office through fear and bully-like behavior. Employees who are petrified about their performance or who feel overwhelmed and stressed by unfair deadlines are probably working for a boss who uses a fear system instead of a respect system.

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      What’s the bottom line?

      Work to build respect among your team by treating everyone with fairness and kindness. Maintain a positive tone and stay reliable for those who approach you for help.

      5. Leaders give credit where it’s due; bosses only take credits.

      Looking for specific ways to gain respect from your colleagues and employees? There is no better place to start than with the simple act of giving credit where it is due.

      Don’t be tempted to take credit for things you didn’t do, and always go above and beyond to generously acknowledge those who worked on a project and performed well.

      You might be wondering how you can get started:

      • Begin by simply noticing which team member contributes what during your next project at work.
      • If possible, make mental notes. Remember that these notes should not be about ways in which team members are failing, but about ways in which they are excelling.
      • Depending on your leadership style, let people know how well they are doing either in private one-on-one meetings or in a group setting. Be honest and generous in your communication about a person’s performance.

      6. Leaders see delegation as their best friend; bosses see it as an enemy.

      If delegation is a leader’s best friend, then micromanagement is the enemy.

      Delegation equates to trust and micromanagement equates to distrust. Nothing is more frustrating for an employee than feeling that his or her every movement is being critically observed.

      Encourage trust in your office by delegating important tasks and acknowledging that your people are capable, smart individuals who can succeed!

      Delegation is a great way to cash in on the positive benefits of a psychological phenomenon called a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, a person’s expectations of another person can cause the expectations to be fulfilled.[2]

      In other words, if you truly believe that your team member can handle a project or task, he or she is more likely to deliver.

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      Learn how to delegate in my other article:

      How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

      7. Leaders work hard; bosses let others do the work.

      Delegation is not an excuse to get out of hard work. Instead of telling people to go accomplish the hardest work alone, make it clear that you are willing to pitch in and help with the hardest work of all when the need arises.

      Here’s the deal:

      Showing others that you work hard sets the tone for your whole team and will spur them on to greatness.

      The next time you catch yourself telling someone to “go”, a.k.a accomplish a difficult task alone, change your phrasing to “let’s go”, showing that you are totally willing to help and support.

      8. Leaders think long-term; bosses think short-term.

      A leader who only utilizes short-term thinking is someone who cannot be prepared or organized for the future. Your colleagues or staff members need to know that they can trust you to have a handle on things not just this week, but next month or even next year.

      Display your long-term thinking skills in group talks and meetings by sharing long-term hopes or concerns. Create plans for possible scenarios and be prepared for emergencies.

      For example, if you know that you are losing someone on your team in a few months, be prepared to share a clear plan of how you and the remaining team members can best handle the change and workload until someone new is hired.

      9. Leaders are like your colleagues; bosses are just bosses.

      Another word for colleague is collaborator. Make sure your team knows that you are “one of them” and that you want to collaborate or work side by side.

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      Not getting involved in the going ons of the office is a mistake because you will miss out on development and connection opportunities.

      As our regular readers know, I love to remind people of the importance of building routines into each day. Create a routine that encourages you to leave your isolated office and collaborate with others. Spark healthy habits that benefit both you and your co-workers.

      10. Leaders put people first; bosses put results first.

      Bosses without crucial leadership training may focus on process and results instead of people. They may stick to a pre-set systems playbook even when employees voice new ideas or concerns.

      Ignoring people’s opinions for the sake of company tradition like this is never truly beneficial to an organization.

      Here’s what I mean by process over people:

      Some organizations focus on proper structures or systems as their greatest assets instead of people. I believe that people lend real value to an organization, and that focusing on the development of people is a key ingredient for success in leadership.

      Learning to be a leader is an ongoing adventure.

      This list of differences makes it clear that, unlike an ordinary boss, a leader is able to be compassionate, inclusive, generous, and hard-working for the good of the team.

      Instead of being a stereotypical scary or micromanaging-obsessed boss, a quality leader is able to establish an atmosphere of respect and collaboration.

      Whether you are new to your work environment or a seasoned administrator, these leadership traits will help you get a jump start so that you can excel as a leader and positively impact the people around you.

      For more inspiration and guidance, you can even start keeping tabs on some of the world’s top leadership experts. With an adventurous and positive attitude, anyone can learn good leadership.

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

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