How to Be Like Walt | Pat Williams

Summary of: How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life
By: Pat Williams


Welcome to a magical journey through the life and values of Walt Disney, as captured in Pat Williams’ ‘How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life’. In this book summary, you’ll be introduced to Walt Disney’s turbulent childhood, his unwavering dedication, creativity, and resourcefulness that brought his dreams to life. You will witness how Disney’s boundless creativity defied adversity, turning ideas into groundbreaking creative marvels. This engaging and heartwarming journey will unravel how Disney managed challenging situations, learned from others, and left a lasting impact on the world of art and entertainment.

Walt Disney’s Childhood Experiences

Walt Disney’s difficult childhood experiences greatly influenced his work. Just like Cinderella, Disney learned the meaning of hard work at a young age. His father fell ill and sold the family farm, his family moved to Kansas City where they worked for no pay. Disney’s fascination with fantasy and entertainment as a schoolboy also influenced his work. He often entertained his classmates and performed Lincoln’s Gettysburg address for the entire school. It is evident that Disney’s childhood experiences stayed with him throughout his life and shaped his work in countless ways.

Walt Disney: The Creative Giant

Walt Disney’s creativity was not just a talent, but a skill that he believed anyone could learn. He gathered creativity from others and his environment, and he made the most of life’s experiences, which became sources of his bubbling imagination. Disney’s creativity produced Mickey Mouse, one of the most legendary cartoon characters of all time. In fact, he often found inspiration in unexpected places, such as the actress Ilene Woods, who came to the studio to record a song for Cinderella. Disney listened to her performance and saw an image of a soap bubble rising up, reflecting Cinderella’s image, which became a striking moment in the film. Disney also drew inspiration from his own life events, such as a traffic stop that inspired the creation of a 1931 Mickey cartoon called Traffic Troubles. Disney proved that creativity is not just for the select few, but a skill that can be developed by anyone.

Walt Disney’s Risk-Taking

Walt Disney was a risk-taker who never settled for success. Despite Mickey Mouse’s huge popularity, he always aimed for the next big thing. In the early 1930s, Disney’s dream to create a full-length animated film of Snow White came with an estimated cost of $500,000. Unfazed, Disney invested whatever was necessary to make it happen, pulling in top artists to help the animators put their best work forward. By 1937, costs had doubled, and Disney was out of money. To complete the film, he had to persuade the studio loans manager at Bank of America. Despite Snow White’s incomplete state, the manager saw its potential and funded the rest of the production, resulting in one of the most popular movies of its time. Walt Disney’s daring investments paid off and changed cinema history forever.

The Rise and Tragedy of Walt Disney

Walt Disney had become a sensation by 1938 with his unprecedented success of Snow White. Despite having a team of over a thousand people, he showed no interest in money and invested his funds into his next project Pinocchio. However, tragedies hit him hard. In 1938, Disney lost his mother to a gas leak, leaving him devastated. To make things worse, Pinocchio, which was critically acclaimed, failed commercially due to the outbreak of World War II and closed European film markets.

Walt Disney’s Plussing Philosophy

Walt Disney’s success was driven by his habit of continuously improving his projects, a philosophy he called “plussing.” He went to great lengths and expenses to perfect his work, such as adding live animals and hiring famous conductors and artists. This mindset of always finding ways to make something better allowed Disney to stay ahead of the competition and innovate in various ways.

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