Thursday, May 21, 2015

How to Be Like Walt

Recently my boss let me borrow the book How to Be Like Walt by Pat Williams. Hands down, this is THE BEST book on Walt Disney that I have ever come across. The book is a biography that follows Walt's life in chronological order. However, Williams ends each chapter with a lesson we can learn from Walt based on that period of his life that will help us be more like him. Here are a few nuggets I particularly enjoyed:

Towards the beginning of the book, Pat Williams gives his first lesson as a way to NOT be like Walt--don't smoke! He talks about the start of Walt's smoking habit and how it eventually killed him.

Walt Disney liked to do the impossible. He was constantly ridiculed, but he always proved them wrong. The author states that the world could do without a thousand critics and not miss them, but it would be a whole lot different if it lost one Walt Disney.

Walt was a great salesman. A true salesman is a noble profession. He (or she) acts with high integrity, believes in his product, is passionate about it, and establishes great relationships. That is exactly the kind of man Walt was.


Walt's name was slandered by disaffected employees. He was called anti-semitic, a womanizer, and other things. These rumors were lies. Walt's favorite composers, the Sherman Brothers, were Jews. Other important people that he loved and trusted were also Jews. He was also fiercely loyal to his wife. He once said to Ken Anderson, complaining that some of his staffers spent their evening womanizing, "Boy, I just can't understand that, Ken. It's like women are their hobby." Ken Anderson noted that Walt could not imagine how a married man could be unfaithful to his wife.

Walt's vision for EPCOT was to create a true Utopia, but after the death of both him and his brother Roy, this final dream of his was forgotten and Epcot became another theme park. Walt wanted it to be an actual community where people could live, and where new technologies could be tested to solve the many problems facing society. Sadly, his dream will have to wait.

This book was such a joy to read. I laughed out loud. I eagerly followed Walt's adventures. And I confess that when I read about his death, I cried real tears. Everybody who knows me knows that I love Disney. But most of all, I love the man that started it all and gave it his name. Reading this book is the closest I've been able to come to know the inspiring man that is Walt Disney.

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