My current class is about creativity, and our first question is about where we can find creative inspiration. While on a trip to Walt Disney World in 2012, I visited the Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream attraction. Part of this attraction was a movie about Disney, narrated by the man himself. I walked away from this more impressed than ever. This is a man who had his Big Idea – Oswald The Lucky Rabbit – stolen out from under him, and while riding home on a train immediately after hearing this news, created Mickey Mouse. From there, he continued to build his company one piece at a time, from his first animated full-length film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to the creation of a place “where the parents and the children could have fun together.” Ideas born in a time when there was nothing like it before, by a man who repeatedly risked his business and his home to see them come to fruition..
Disney is an example of a man finding inspiration within himself, and we can still learn from him today. When I look at what Disney has done and what his dream has become, it marvels me to see such humble beginnings. A mouse drawn on a notepad has led to the 14th best global brand. Disney’s calculated risks led to hard work, which led to huge success. Looking at risk-takers in any field can be inspiring. The people we talk about as the most inspirational – Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Martin Luther King, Jr, Marie Curie, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa – were all risk-takers.
Walt Disney didn’t just change the way parents spent time together, he changed the way businesses look at customers. Disney found that customers became repeat customers based on good interactions with the company. Interactions come from everywhere, whether it’s a conversation at an amusement park with a cast member or a commercial on TV. Anywhere the brand and the customer meet is an important interaction that must be taken seriously.
He also embraced change, which is even more important today. Disney always knew his ideas would be changed as they evolved or updated as technology improved. “That’s how we’ve always done it” mode is a dangerous, yet comfortable, place to be. Disney shows us that it’s important to be open to new ideas, to allow ourselves the creative right to explore, to push ourselves, and to challenge the “way things have always been done.”