Walt Disney: A Self-Made Success?

NDD243 (13 Posts)


Source: The Walt Disney Family Museum

 

Many people say Walt Disney epitomizes the American Dream because he was born into a family of modest means, found a calling in life that he passionately pursued, and created an empire the revolutionized an industry.

There’s no denying the fact that he enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in his life, but do you feel as if he was a “self-made” success?

People who’ve enjoyed much success in life can, in some degree, attribute their success to the support of others around them.  The stories of those individuals who worked closely with Walt Disney are widely told, and may even be thought of as legendary.

However, there’s one person whose influence on Walt Disney has flown under the radar (in my humble opinion) – his wife Lillian Disney.

If you recall, the idea for Mickey Mouse came to Walt when he was on a train ride from New York to California.  Do you remember hearing that Mickey wasn’t the original name he came up with?  In fact, the original name Walt gave this cute little character was Mortimer.

Mortimer?  Can you imagine how the Mickey Mouse Club song would’ve gone if that name stuck?

“Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me?  M-O-R…..T-I-M…..” you see what I mean!

As the story goes, when Walt showed this new character to his wife Lillian, she immediately rejected the name Mortimer and suggested he name him Mickey instead.

I’ve seen a handful of documentaries and read a few biographies about Walt Disney, but little is said about other situations like this where Walt leaned on his wife Lillian for advice.  If I was him, and saw how the whole Mickey Mouse idea panned out, I would have sought her advice on a daily basis.

Think Outside the Boxcar

Personally, I find my wife to be a very valuable resource when I need a sanity check for my business.  While my colleagues know me well, she has a very keen intuition about my skills and limitations.

There’s something to be said about the bond you create with a spouse.  Even if you come from different academic, professional, ethnic, or socioeconomic backgrounds, the bond you have with your spouse can be a tremendous asset when you’re facing a significant decision.

Give it a shot if you don’t do it already on a somewhat regular basis.  Afterwards, drop me a line to let me know how it went!

Contributed by Derek Hoffman (NDD #243).  Derek is the creator of DisneyMBA.com and writes business-themed posts for The Disney Driven Life.

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