The Success Secrets of Walt Disney

The Success Secrets of Walt Disney

By Paula Fellingham

What principles were the keys to Walt Disney’s amazing success story? Read more to find out in Paula Fellingham’s latest article!


After reading everything about Walt Disney I could find and talking to senior executives who knew him, I’ve identified the principles that helped make Disney so successful. His principles can work for anyone!

Think tomorrow. Walt Disney was never content with what he had accomplished. He always looked forward to what he wanted to accomplish next.

During the depths of the Depression, Disney gambled all of his money and all the money that he could borrow on a movie-length fairy-tale – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Over sixty years later, the film still is a big moneymaker.

It’s so easy to postpone our big projects and miss opportunities…and so comfortable to bask in what we’ve already accomplished.

What matters is what we can accomplish tomorrow, not what we’ve done today. Build a yesterday. Focus your efforts on tomorrow. That’s how you make dreams come true.

Free your imagination. Disney died in 1966, five years before Walt Disney World opened.

When someone commented how sad it was that Walt Disney hadn’t lived to see the Florida theme park, Mike Vance, creative director of Walt Disney Studios, replied, “He did see it. That’s why it’s here.”

Disney was a visionary – he was always thinking five projects ahead of the one he was working on. Years before it was built, Disney flew over the groves and swamplands of central Florida and imagined exactly how Walt Disney World would someday look.

Most of us can do better than we think we can. We limit ourselves…and we let others limit us. Walt Disney shattered these mental restrictions.

If you free your mind and let your imagination run wild, there’s no limit to what you can do, where you can go…or what you can accomplish.

Strive for lasting quality. Disney had imagination and creativity. But the real secret of his success was his fanatical commitment to excellence. He continually reached for that intangible quality that is called perfection.

Disney said, “There are no new ideas. You just take a good one and improve on it.”

There are no shortcuts to quality. It takes an inordinate amount of hard work to produce lasting quality. Everyone on the team has to accept responsibility for achieving it. But whatever it takes to achieve lasting quality must be done.

Have “stick-to-it-ivity.” You may not find that word in the dictionary. Whenever Disney needed a new word, he would make one up. Stick-to-it-ivity is Disneyese for fortitude, tenacity…and hanging in there until the job is done.

Dreams don’t happen just because you want them to. You must hang in there, be tenacious – stick to it – until you finally are able to turn your dreams into reality.

Talent by itself isn’t enough. Success comes only when talent is combined with tenacity.

~contributed by Pat Williams

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