Reading Neal Gamler’s excellent biography of Walt Disney and am struck by two things:
1. How perpetually broke he was, and
2. How he was never in it for the money.
Walt was perpetually broke. He put every nickel and dime he could spare into every animation he made of Mickey Mouse.
When pressured to lower quality (because quality is expensive), he refused. He and his brother Roy would instead hit the streets and scrounge up just enough to make the payroll and continue on from there.
Listen to how those close to him, describe Walt Disney’s love and passion for animation, after finding out yet again, that the company was on the verge of bankrupcy, even after securing a lucrative distribution contract from United Artists.
In Walt’s eyes, his studio was not to be subject to the pressures of the world; it was his refuge from them–a sacred place. And his animations could not be compromised;they had to be better than anyone else’s or he would not survive in the business; nor would he want to survive.
Excellence was not only Walt’s business strategy, it was the reason he ran the studio and the force that kept his personal world intact.
“If you want to know the real secret of Walt’s success”, longtime animator Ward Kimball would say, “it’s that he never tried to make money. He was always trying to make something that he could have fun with or be proud of.”
To me this is the most dangerous form of entrepreneur (danger in a good way). The kind that isn’t in it for the money.
These artists to it because they have to.
They don’t have a choice.
And woe to the men or companies that stand in his way.