This is a first for me. Not the fact I am writing about a book I have read on my blog, but the fact I am writing about a book I am still reading on my blog. I just reached the 50% point reading The Noticer Returns by Andy Andrews on my Kindle and am enjoying the book so much I could not wait to finish the book before sharing some of my thoughts. I want you to get your own copy and enjoy this book too. That makes this an unfinished book review, but Jones is back! Continue reading Unfinished…but Jones is back!
You may or may not have heard that quote. If you are a Disney fan as I am I suspect you have. I happen to be wearing a shirt with that quote as I write this. Walt Disney did say that and it is true but is it really the whole truth?
It all depends on what you use as the starting point in time. Mickey Mouse is the character that allowed Walt and Roy Disney to jump start the Walt Disney Company in 1928 and is still one of the most recognizable corporate icons in existence today. Practically everyone has heard of Mickey Mouse and that speaks to the impact that Walt Disney has made in our culture and our world today.
There is no doubt about that. However, if you backtrack just a little from that point in time, there is another story that many may not know. To borrow a phrase from Paul Harvey, here is “the rest of the story.”
The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio was a partnership started by Roy and Walt Disney in 1923. They created cartoons but to get those cartoons distributed to an audience where they could be seen, and produce income, they had to work with other companies, such as Universal Studios. Oswald The Lucky Rabbit was a character created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks and several Oswald cartoons were produced in 1927 and 1928. Oswald was the first character that also generated merchandising income for the company with an Oswald candy bar, stencil set, and pinback button.
They were producing the cartoons ahead of schedule, one every 16 days when the contract only required one every three weeks. As he was always striving to produce a better product the cost of the Oswald cartoons was increasing and his current contract to produce the cartoons would be ending soon Walt and his wife, Lillian, traveled to New York to talk with Disney’s distributor at Universal, Charles Mintz, about the new contract.
Negotiations did not go well
During these meetings he learned that Mintz was in the process of hiring his animators, was offering a reduction in the price currently being paid for the cartoons and ultimately wanted to take over the Disney company and have Walt and Roy work for him. He had believed that Walt, since he was not actually doing the animation any more, was expendable. Walt tried to negotiate a new contract with another distributor but learned since he did not own the rights to Oswald he could not take him to a new distributor. So, as he and Lillian left New York for the long train ride back to California, he had no character to draw when his current contract ended, only a few employees left, who had not deserted him for Universal, and a very uncertain future.
As he left New York in March 1928 Walt Disney had made a vow to himself to never work for anyone again and in the future he would have complete control over his work, which, in his line of work was his characters. His problem was he had no character he could call his own. He was 23 years old, recently married, July 13, 1925, and without a job for the most part, and had been deserted by what he had thought were loyal employees.
What happened next changed the world(s) as we know it.
There are different versions of the story of how Mickey Mouse came to be Mickey Mouse. The most common is that during the cross country train ride west, Walt, trying to create a new character, began drawing a mouse. When Lillian saw the sketches she asked him what he was going to name it and he said Mortimer. While working in Kansas City he had caught several mice in the animation studio there and had one that would even run around on his drawing table that he fed and had given the name Mortimer. She did not like that name and suggested Mickey.
Ub Iwerks was one of the animators that stuck with the Disneys and would become the animator for Mickey Mouse. He drew more than 700 drawing per day working on the first Mickey Mouse cartoon. This also had to be done in secret since the animators leaving were still there finishing their contracts for the Oswald cartoons.
Mickey Mouse made his debut in Plane Crazy on May 15, 1928, less than two months after the meeting in New York and the defection of his animators.
The rest, as they say, is history. Walt Disney had learned from his experience with Oswald and Universal and would not make those mistakes again. He did control all rights to Mickey Mouse and he parlayed that into a merchandising success that was as innovative as it was successful and still is today. We have in the past and still do enjoy in that success. See Disney…Is It Worth The Cost if you want to know more about that.
What would you do?
What do you do when you face a failure or roadblock in your life or career? Do you throw your hands up in despair and hold your own pity party? Walt Disney was able to take this major setback and, at the ripe young age of 23, employ his vision and perseverance to create what is arguably the most recognizable character and franchise in the world. Most of us will not duplicate that feat but we can learn from his experience and apply it in our own lives. His ‘never give up’ spirit propelled him to the next leg of his journey in his career and that did literally change the world and is still changing people’s lives today. This was just one hurdle he faced in building the company many of us love today.
Walt Disney express his thoughts on failures and setbacks seem applicable here to me.
“It is good to have a failure while you’re young because it teaches you so much. For one thing it makes you aware that such a thing can happen to anybody, and once you’ve lived through the worst, you’re never quite as vulnerable afterward.”
“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
I believe we do learn best from our own mistakes and failures but if we can also learn from someone else’s experiences that can help us move down the path toward our goals too. It might help us to avoid a few hurdles and might also save a tooth or two.
Oswald is back home now
As a postscript to the Oswald dilemma, although he did not live to see it, the Walt Disney Company did acquire the licensing rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in 2006 in a deal with NBC that included a trade for Al Michaels to be able to do sports broadcasting on NBC. That seems fitting to me and just to show my support I bought my first Oswald The Lucky Rabbit cap this week.
I hope you enjoyed the Disney history and the life lesson we all need from time to time to never give up, regardless of the circumstances.
Until next time…as Mickey would say, “See ya real soon! heh heh”
Until next time…
Originally posted on Peculiar Perspective on 7/7/2013
Have you ever bought anything and then had “buyer’s remorse”, wishing you hadn’t bought it or that you had waited to make your buying decision? I know I have. However, I have learned over the years as I get older and hopefully wiser, at least in some areas, that if you wait for some period of time, whether that is a day, a week, a month or longer, you often find that item you were about to exchange your hard-earned dollars for is not something you really have to have. Often, your “I have to have that” mindset changes to “I might get that later” or “I will wait until it goes on sale” or “I really don’t want to spend my money on that” to “I found something else I want more.”
Items differ, desires are more common
We all have desires or wants for things we do not have at times. We could see an ad on TV or on the internet for the latest cell phone, newest iPad, golf club, pocket hose, latest diet fad, or bass-o-matic blender. We are the most marketed to generation that has ever existed on planet earth and these marketers are good at what they do.
Disney is one of the best in the world
The Walt Disney Company is one of the best marketing organizations in the world. They are very good at determining what their customers or guests want and then providing that product or service in a manner that is second to none. Walt Disney World, in my opinion, is the crown jewel of the Disney Empire. If you have ever visited Walt Disney World then you know that a pass to enter any of the parks there is not inexpensive, especially if you are taking a family of 6, which is what we often did. You do pay a premium price for a premium entertainment experience.
We have visited Walt Disney World too many times to count. We did live in Florida for nine years and had Florida Resident annual passes which allowed us to go multiple times a year. Our oldest daughter went before she was born, when my wife was pregnant with her. We got her a Mickey Mouse plush doll she still has today. She turns 26 next month.
27 years and no buyer’s remorse
In all the trips we have made to The Magic Kingdom over the past 27 years, I have never once had a feeling of not getting our money’s worth. There are not many places I know of which that statement could be applied to and be true. We have spent a lot of money there, too much of that to count as well. You cannot put a price on the first time your children see Mickey and Minnie, Chip and Dale, Cinderella in her castle or Goofy, although he was kind of scary at first because of his size.
Magical Place, Where Dreams Do Come True
It really is a magical place and not just for the kids. That was part of Walt Disney’s goal – to make entertainment enjoyable for kids and for the kid in all of us adults too.
Regarding Disneyland, Walt Disney said, “I felt there should be something built where the parents and the children could have fun together.” He succeeded in building that place and his dream of Walt Disney World was honored and completed with Roy’s leadership, who died just two months after it was opened.
It is a magical place for me too. I have always been amazed, first at the art of animation that started with Roy and Walt Disney when they started the company in 1923, to the magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World and the feeling I get when I step inside the gates. I really am transported to a different world. I can leave the “real world” behind for a few hours and enjoy time with my family and the magic created there. That is priceless and hard for anyone who hasn’t been there, and even some who have, to understand.
I guess some of that magic has rubbed off on our children as they still love to go whenever possible and our oldest daughter, mentioned above, is now a cast member. My family surprised me with a trip they had planned for us to celebrate my 50th birthday in 2011. It was the best gift ever.
In retrospect, I do wish I would have been wiser in how we paid for many of those trips and not resorted to the “American way” of putting it on a credit card and paying for it later but I still would not take back or undo any of those trips because they are such a big part of our lives and memories…good memories.
What I am trying to say is I have never left Walt Disney World with any regrets or buyer’s remorse for the dollars we have spent. My only regret when we leave is that we are leaving. We are often trying to plan our next trip on the way home.
This is not meant to be an advertisement for Walt Disney World but it is an endorsement. If you have never been then I do recommend you go if at all possible. Some people actually do not like it. I really cannot understand that but it is true. My purpose in writing this is just to try to give you a sense of my love for the place, respect for the men who created it, and fascination for the history of how it all came to be.
As for the history, I have read several biographies of Walt Disney and have one on Roy Disney on my bookshelf now to read as well. I am actually in the midst of reading Walt Disney by Neal Gabler now. Since this is one of my interests, some would say obsession, I expect you will see more blogs about Walt, Roy, the history of Disney, lessons I have learned from studying their lives, and some of the new developments there too.
The reason I hold these men and this place in such high esteem is what they have meant to our family. I also believe there are many lessons to learn by studying more about successful people and how they became successful and I obviously believe there are many lessons we can learn from the Disneys.
Imagination, Perseverance, Innovation, Attention to Detail, Pursuit of Excellence, Love of Country
I am fascinated and amazed by the imagination, perseverance, innovation, attention to detail, and constant pursuit of excellence exhibited by the Disney brothers. Those are qualities that will serve anyone well in whatever they do. We all benefit from their successes and failures today. They changed their generation and continue to impact our culture today, 40+ years since they both died.
Since it almost July 4th I am also reminded that Walt Disney had a great love of country that is on display throughout his life and career that continues to be displayed by The Disney Company today. “And actually, if you could see close in my eyes,” Walt Disney said, “the American flag is waving in both of them, and up my spine is growing this red, white, and blue stripe.”
Regarding The Disney Company Walt Disney is quoted as saying “It was all started by a mouse.” Regarding movies, he said, “I do not make films primarily for children. I make them for the child in all of us, whether we be six or sixty.” As I am much closer to 60 now than 6 I hope that my ‘inner child’ does not disappear when I do reach sixty.
Regarding Disneyland, from which Walt Disney World and the other Disney Parks around the world originated, he said, “It all started from a daddy with two daughters wondering where he could take them where he could have a little fun with them, too.”
As for this daddy, with three daughters and a son, and now a son-in-law too, I am thankful that we can enjoy the realization of “One Man’s Dream”. We are forever in Walt and Roy Disney’s debt because the fun and memories we have made and now share are priceless to us so, yes, it has been well worth the cost for us.
Whenever I see Mickey Mouse or Walt Disney or the entrance to Walt Disney World or Cinderella’s Castle or the train station something is triggered in my brain that causes me to smile and think of the many good times shared there with my family. For that I am very thankful.
Here is one last picture, for now anyway, of Walt watching over the Magic Kingdom.
Have a magical day!
Until next time…
Originally posted on Peculiar Perspective on 6/30/2013