I am an avid fan of Walt Disney. Anytime one of those Who-is-your-hero type questions come up, my answer is always Walt Disney. The man was a genius. He wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t always easy to work for. But he was brilliant, creative and motivating. And last week was his 113th birthday. It seemed like a good time to brag about this amazing biography…
The book, How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life, is a detailed look at the life of a man who pioneered an array of different entertainment mediums. Not only that, but it’s also a book about inspiring others to do their best. Not only that, but it’s also a book on how to balance a busy work life and a loving family life. Not only that, but it’s also a book about not being satisfied with something that is just “good enough.” So many different aspects of Walt’s life are tied up in this book, it’s amazing that it’s not longer. And I wouldn’t have minded. I was disappointed when it was done!
This book takes stories and histories from the life of Walt Disney and combines it with a self-help guide on how to use his life to improve your own. It is a creative and effective way to approach the material. Numerous books have been written about the life of Walt Disney, and I have read a lot of them, but this is the first I have seen that gives suggestions on what to do with that information. Rather than just leaving it at a biography, it turns the information into a self-help book.
Walt had his share of flaws. He was a heavy smoker, which eventually led to his death. Today, we all know about his smoking, but it was a fact he tried to keep from the public whenever possible. Walt had a short temper. He often got irate with his employees when they didn’t perform up to his expectations, which was often for a man with high expectations! Walt did not give praise. For some people, they feel respected through hearing words of affirmation from those they respect. For Walt, the highest praise he’d give an idea was, “That’ll work.”
Walt had his triumphs too. He had the idea of putting a live action girl into a cartoon world with the Alice comedies. He saw the potential of sound for cartoon shorts and gave Mickey Mouse a voice. He knew that audiences would want to sit through a full length animated film and gambled everything he had on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He had the vision to make live action films that were appropriate and entertaining for the whole family. He had the foresight to see that television was not a threat to his films, but an asset to build his empire. Walt had the inspiration to give the world Disneyland, a park where families could immerse themselves in a place unlike any other. With a few more years, Walt would have finished his biggest dream, E.P.C.O.T., and we would have seen what he could do with an entire city!
Time after time, Walt hit walls that would stop a normal person in their tracks. Producers claimed his characters (Oswald), his workers went on strike, he ran out of money… a lot! But Walt thrived in adversity. A set back was just an opportunity to try something different. He would let his brother Roy worry about the little things like money and he would just keep dreaming!
Pat Williams does a good job of collecting the most interesting tidbits about Walt and compiling them to give us this book. Williams is a NBA executive and motivational speaker with several books in his How To Be Like series, including How to Be Like Mike (Jordan) and How to Be Like Jesus. Williams does not hold back explaining how many of Walt’s most positive characteristics carry into one’s relationship with God as well.
“How to be Like Walt” is encouraging and inspiring! I read through this book very quickly and came away with new ideas on how to be a better leader, father, creator and motivator. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has leadership responsibilities, wants to work in the entertainment field or has any contact with any other human beings, ever.
You can find out more about Walt Disney by watching Tom Hanks in Saving Mr. Banks. Or just read my review of Saving Mr. Banks.
What is YOUR favorite part of the Walt Disney legacy? Let me know in the comments!