“Think beyond your lifetime if you want to accomplish something truly worthwhile” Walt Disney
This Saturday marks the Anniversary of the death of Walt Disney, in 1966 the world lost one of the its most innovative minds. His death happened just a little over 10 years after the launch of Disneyland. Roy Disney, his brother and business partner, said in a statement for his obituary, “We will continue to operate Walt’s company in the way that he had established and guided it. All of the plans for the future that Walt had begun will continue to move ahead.” Several days after his death he was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park at Glendale, California. Many of us will be lowered into the ground to be entombed with our ideas that will never live on.
It would not be hard to make the argument that Walt’s ideas are more alive than ever. His “Florida Project” that you probably know as Walt Disney World just celebrated its largest expansion in it’s 41 year history in Magic Kingdom. Over 1000 Imagineers were involved in this project. These are not the crews that put paint to wall but the ideas that fueled the whole project. Walt was all about collaboration, and that tradition lives on at the Disney company.
While doing research to launch ACTIVATE, my wife and I visited both the Walt Disney Family Museum and the Charles M. Schultz Museum. There was quite a difference between the two. Walt’s museum was all about the teams of people that he built. The famous “nine old men” from his animation department to the WDI team that later became know as Imagneering. Schultz was all about him. What he did, most of it alone. Shultz impacted his community and left a Ice Rink and Snack Shop behind.
Sure both men have museums that are alive and well after their death. (Although today the Peanuts strip is basically reruns.) Most of the ideas that Charles M. Schultz had died with him. Walt’s ideas live on and I would argue are more alive than ever! Mickey Mouse and Charlie Brown both live on. But Mickey (and Walt) have birthed and fueled more ideas than I can count. Woody, Buzz, Lightning McQueen, Ariel, Stitch, Belle, Jack Sparrow, Beast, Simba, and sadly Hannah Montana. Since his death, his company has gone on to acquire ABC, the Muppets, Pixar, Marvel, and most recently Lucasfilm aka Star Wars. You can visit one of 11 theme parks or sail on one of four cruise ships that all came to be because Walt had an idea on a park bench and assembled a team around that idea to make it happen.
Sadly Charlie Brown died with Charles Shultz. Sure we get re-runs of the TV specials, the old comic strip still runs, and of course the Peanuts brand is still licensed, but there is just a museum celebrating what was. I grew up loving Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Woodstock but even Shultz’s office was about just about him drawing his comic strip. Walt was around a piano with the Sherman brothers working out the details on songs or in . Both brought the world great joy. Luckily for us, Walt’s joy lives on, but one day the world will have no idea who Lucy and Linus even where.
Many of us have killer ideas and they die with us if we dream alone. Ideas that live alone, die alone. Ideas that have a team investing in them live on. When we leave this planet we can’t take anything with us but we can leave a legacy. The greatest legacy we can leave is to create something that future generations can be impacted by long after we are gone.