The success of Disney came from its founder, Walt Disney. That’s a fact. But what made the brand Disney stand out and become one of the most amazing lasting brands? A model for countless companies afterward? It was the use of his mind. Today The Disney Strategy is used by smart companies in order to bring fantastic ideas to life.
Without reading further, please, please, take a break and evaluate your mind for a bit. How messed up is it? How well maintained and updated it is? Because no matter what you want to do or achieve if your initial focus is outside of yourself you can say ‘bye’ to your big dreams.
Your mind will show and lead the way, no other way around. You can gain the biggest success overnight, let’s say you got lucky, for those that believe in luck. But if your mind is not ready, you’ll lose that fame, success, money. You’ll lose it.
That’s the way you can also explain the success of those people who you think they don’t deserve it because they don’t look successful. Or because they lake education, status, or don’t know how to behave. Tell that about Henry Ford who attended school until the age of fifteen and he was a poor student. Or tell that to the famous rappers from the hood who risen above everything they saw or had as a child.
The success stories equal control over the mind and the use of its power. You can take this one lesson, act on it and you’re done.
If you’re in a hurry, you can jump straight to the Disney Strategy section, but I highly advise you to read the entire story to let the proper mindset to get shaped in the process.
So the word DISNEY it’s a phenomenon by itself. But the Disney Strategy is nothing else than a practical use of the brainpower to unleash your problem solving skills and creativity. It’s very straightforward and easy to use. This method unleashes your inner wisdom by connecting to the collective mindset.
I used it frequently in my training, especially corporate ones. Some even started Disney meetups just to solve each other’s problems. It works. And it’s not a secret. Take it, use it, and change your life or business.
I figure that Disney still lives and thrives because he set up a replicable system which works. He taught a lot of followers how to use his secret recipe and apply it. He wasn’t stingy with his gift and legacy. Like most of the highly successful people are: He shared!
But before I’ll show you the strategy and how to use it I prepared you the fascinating insight about him and how he became the man who all of you know. The story by itself shows the traits of highly successful people, in this case, those with the entrepreneurial DNA. You can learn so much from his story, so be patient and open your mind to understand what stays between you and your most significant success.
It all began with a vision. That vision had a name, The Happiest Place On Earth. I hope you saw the movie Saving Mr. Banks where Tom Hanks plays an outstanding Disney role and Emma Thompson is the author of the book Mary Poppins. In that movie, you can envision a little bit the traits of Walt Disney who was a visionary true blood entrepreneur. And the film has a central theme around one of the main characteristics of every single successful entrepreneur. Do you guess what it is?
That’s the ‘sexy’ word in this story. Aligned with the initial vision, perseverance was Disney’s skill to grow an empire which became his legacy.
You should also know that behind the glamour, fame and red carpet, Disney sets the scene for an entire industry of excellence academies and management products for each business sector. How amazing is that, right?
And the first ally for Walt Disney after having his vision (which became his mission) was perseverance.
I love his personal story because even though Disney was a creative genius, his beginnings were not exactly pitchy. He started his journey like so many others who became famous and part of history. Meaning they were undervalued and disrespected by others, ironically in the same fields where they, later on, became famous. Take Einstein, Edison, or take Seinfeld, Oprah, just to name a few. They were all ridiculed as not having what it takes to make it in their fields.
Don’t let others tell you what you can do
Listening to other opinions is a bitch, excuse my French. Others are very good at cutting wings with or without intention. The question is, do you live your life listening to others when your heart is in another place?
So Disney was fired from a newspaper in Kansas because they concluded he was not creative enough. Isn’t this ironic? So forced to follow his true inner voice, entrepreneurship, he launched an animation start-up by the name of Laugh-O-Gram. Because he was also a good salesman (great entrepreneurs are too), he managed to fund his business with 15.000 dollars, around 200k in today’s money.
He had only one distributor at the time who went bankrupt, so he had no choice than follow. After that, a new interesting period followed when the disastrous affair made him so cashless that he even tried dog food.
His last money went on a train ticket straight to Hollywood. There he continued to create his characters, not without challenges. He got a new distributor – Universal Studios. They managed to cheat him with the Oswald character he created. Not only that, but Universal stolen all the talents that worked for him at the time, so he was left alone and unpaid. What most do after such adventures? Yeep! They give up.
What did Disney do?
He persevered. Especially with Mickey Mouse, his favorite character which he impersonated until the end as his voiceover. He loved that character, but others didn’t. Distributors were afraid that a mouse would scare the women audience. Little Pigs were bad received too. Pinochio’s production was shut down, and Disney forced to rewrite the entire story. Bambi, Pollyana, or Fantasi were unpopular at the time. The audience was not ready.
What most of the entrepreneurs who remained after the initial phase would do in such circumstances? They gave up. So usually here it starts that road where the 1% is found. That one where is not crowded!? Remember?
What did Disney do?
Persevered. About Marry Poppins, he pursued the author of the book (please watch the movie) for 16 years. During those years he traveled to Pamela Travers each year to London until she sold her story to Hollywood. In the end, he bought ABC in 1996. That same ABC who owned Kansas City Star, the newspaper which fired him in the past.
I would graciously add here, “The best revenge success.” Sounds like Steve Job’s story right? Or Sylvester Stallone’s when he sold his dog for $25, then bought it back for $15,000.
You see? Successful people have similar traits. They don’t give up when the vision and perseverance are in place.
Imagination and Creativity are Success Factors
“Imagination is more important than knowledge,” Einstein said it, and others with this special nametag over their head called – GENIUS. Think about it for a moment. You can have the knowledge, but if you don’t know how to deploy it, no knowledge will bring you any result. So Disney translated his imagination into concrete stuff. He took his fantasies very seriously.
“If you can dream it you can do it.”
So he did. His animations were the result of his imagination. Sounds pretty logical, right?
This quote can debug the way he did this:
“The story man must see clearly in his own mind how every piece of business will be put over. He should feel every expression, every reaction. He get far enough from his story to take a second look at it. . . to see whether there is any dead phase. . . to see whether the personalities are going to be interesting and appealing to the audience. He should also try to see that the things that his characters are doing are of an interesting nature.”
And the way he handled adversity is brilliant. We all have our inner critique. For Disney, this also meant literally, and he addressed the critiques this way:
“We are not trying to entertain the critics. I’ll take my chances with the public.”
The take away is to visualized and relive the story or your vision with total precision and proper state. It’s very similar thinking as described in the book, Think and Grow Rich. This book holds the story of the most powerful and successful men that lived during that time. And the fact that the book is still actual shows that it works.
So you have the end result in mind together with the details. Then you create the plans and strategy to get there. And most of all, you need the right emotional state. You need to want that thing, crave for it, be hungry, and feel the desire. Otherwise, it won’t work.
Disney had it all.
The Disney Strategy To Create His Characters
You can use this strategy during brainstorming sessions, problem-solving or when you want to create a working plan from an idea. It’s fun and useful in groups, but you can use it by itself.
Disney created his characters alone using three chairs in his office which never moved. Each chair was named and represented three states or perspectives.
The chairs were the perceptual positions to dream the future, come up with a plan, then find any missing piece, error, or element that could create problems. That’s how he succeeded in creating authenticity, originality, and complexity with his characters. Anything that involves planning or decision-making can be attained with this method.
People who worked with Walt knew there were actually three Walts, based on these states.
“You never knew which one was coming into your meetings.”
The Three Perceptual Positions
- The dreamer
- The realist
- The spoiler
Let’s see how we can envision this.
- A Dreamer without a Realist and Spoiler is only a Dreamer
- A Realist without a Dreamer and Spoiler is a Robot
- A Spoiler without a Dreamer and Realist is just a Spoiler
- A Dreamer and a realist without Spoiler has no quality standards in place
- A Spoiler and a Realist without a Dreamer is called Bureaucracy
- A Dreamer and a Spoiler without a Realist is a bipolar roller coaster
How to Use The Disney Strategy in Business
Of course, you can use the strategy with chairs, but in groups works best by preparing some spots such as papers named after the perceptual positions, placed on the floor. You can then take the group for brainstorms, problem-solving, new concepts. Everything that needs planning, problem solving or creativity can be worked through the Disney Strategy.
How to use the three perceptual position.
- Go into the Dreamer spot and start dreaming. I mean let every kind of fantasy, idea come to the surface. This is not to think outside the box. It’s beyond that. Quoting Disney:
“Don’t think outside the box! Once you say that, you’ve established that there is a box.”
So let your team imagine anything, envision any idea without any limitation.
Someone could write the ideas, or even better – use technology and record.
Here you are free, there is no setting, expectation, limitation. You can envision anything, doesn’t matter how outrageous or idealistic it is. The rule is that you have no rules.
You’re answering to “What?” and your thoughts are directed to the future.
You can see what you want, you can hear the surroundings when having that thing and feel the emotions associated with that thing. You are traveling into the future where your creative idea is living.
- Once the ideas are out you’ll switch to the second position where the Realist is. In this position, you are the project manager of that idea/vision/creative bliss. You are the CEO of that thing. If in the first position you were more entrepreneurial, here you are more like a CEO who has different responsibilities. To make things happen.
So you’re answering questions like:
What do I need to make this dream happen?
The realist doesn’t judge. He assumes that the dream, the idea is achievable, so he just needs to make the plan, involve himself building the road, the costs, the timelines, and the final deadline. He answers to, “How?” He is in the real action mode. You’ll relieve the wish of the Dreamer but from the creator stand of view. So you need to understand it in a realistic way to can set up a plan.
This state is for the present. Something like, “I need to make this happen. So let’s go through it, understand it and set up the right, viable plan.”
- The third position, Spoiler role is similar to your inner critique. What could go wrong with this plan? What’s not right? What did I miss? Here you have a past and future orientation and see things both short-term and long-term.
Disney used this position focused on the “Why?” and his approach at the beginning was, “I know something is wrong with this. What’s wrong?” Then focusing on the why he asked those annoying questions, “Why this way? Why not another way? Why this idea or plan at all?”
In the NLP model based on Robert Dilts’s book Strategies of Genius, volume 1, after he studied Walt in great detail for years, you’ll find a fourth position, a Meta, an Observer. From this position, you can set up the frame, or go there after each state and shake it down before entering into the new position.
Your final goal is to have a satisfied Spoiler, Dreamer, and Realist – in this order. If the critique is not satisfied you’ll redo the steps until your final plan got the desired agreement.
The outcome needs to be, “This is the best we can do.” Your team now can break and take responsibilities to execute the steps that were traced by the Realist.
If you want a bulletproof project for your future business plans – use this model! It’s easy, it’s fun and can be done in different ways or settings. You could even create a well-known setup inside your company when on a regular basis teams gather and solve current problems or gain perspective about what needs to be done.
For bigger plans, you do unique meetings based solely on that plan.
Doesn’t need to take long. If you’re thinking that it can be difficult and lengthy, you can start with smaller role plays. Think about it. Even if you scan an idea through the three positions once, max for one hour, your findings will be priceless.
It could also save you millions on the road, by finding something extra which before was ignored or not at all perceived.
Everything that was produced at Disney went through this process. Including Disney World in Florida which launched after Disney’s death. But he saw it because he relieved it so many times before the first concrete steps were even shaped.
The lesson of the story is this. We have different mindsets that are linked to the context.
Create the right framework. Like when you are in a doer mode or pure labor. In that state, you don’t see the big picture. Same way in reverse. When you’re planning something you can miss the flaws because your focus is on the steps, what needs to be done.
We can use this in our daily lives. Identify the state you’re in and if something is lacking change your perceptual position to view that missing spot from there. Or use an observer position, a neutral one from where you can get a sense about what’s needed next.
This is such a powerful tool to be used in business. Don’t let this strategy here, take it with you, apply it and see the Disney magic in action.
I’ll let you with another Disney quote:
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
Cristina Imre – High-End Coach for Top Performers; Keynote Speaker; Business Trainer & Strategist; Author; Entrepreneur