Career Advice from Walt Disney

Mickey Mouse
Image by J.E.S. via Flickr

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

“If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.”

– Walt Disney

The young Walt Disney’s first business went bankrupt, but he didn’t give up on his dreams.

After returning to Kansas City after a stint as an ambulance driver during World War 1, Disney worked as a draftsman and inker in commercial art studios before starting his own small studio with a partner. The two made short advertising films for local businesses with a second-hand camera while working on their animation passion projects on the side.

Unfortunately, the company ran out of money after  a deal with a New York film distributor went sour and Walt was forced to declare bankruptcy  in 1923.

Despite this blow to the ego, Walt packed up his latest unfinished animation project and moved to California to mooch $250 from his brother Roy and set up shop with him in their uncle’s garage. Soon they were generating some  cash flow from producing short animated featurettes for Hollywood.

In 1928, Walt came up with the idea for Mickey Mouse. Mickey’s first film appearance in Steamboat Willie (1928) was a sensation. However, due to the costs of producing animated films, the business was “continuously in peril” for years.

Eventually, the money started rolling in. However, Disney went on to risk it all several times over the course of his career. He credited his early failure with giving him the strength to take big risks, which paid off in big rewards over the course of Disney’s very big career.

So if you have big talent and a big dream, but have been kicked in the teeth by the current economy, remember Disney’s advice. That kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you and if you can dream it, you can do it.

Read more about the life and career of Walt Disney.

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