Perhaps no American in my lifetime has stimulated our imagination more than Walt Disney. As a child I went to the local Cinema along with the other kids in the neighborhood to see the new Disney films: Mary Poppins, The Love Bug, and The Jungle Book. Fifty years later, the studio is still cranking out hits like Beauty and the Beast and A Wrinkle in Time.
I still marvel at my first trip to Disney World. As a small boy I looked on in wide eyed wonder at the world that Walt built. A world he reminded folks that began with a little mouse. Walt’s ultimate dream was to create an amusement park bigger than Disney Land. A park which we now know as “The Magic Kingdom”, opening a year after his death in 1967. It was indeed “Magic.”
Disney’s brother Roy once told a story about a much younger Walt. When Disney was in fifth grade, his teacher told the students their assignment that day was to draw and color a flower garden. The teacher walked down the aisles looking over the student’s shoulders as they busied themselves in their task.
She stopped dead in her tracks as she stared down at Disney’s desk. Walt’s drawings were quite unusual. “Walt,” she began, “Flowers don’t have faces on them.”
He looked up and said confidently, “Mine do!” And they still do. Any trip to Disney Land or Disney World you will encounter flowers and they all have faces.
Lee Cockerell, an Executive Vice President for Walt Disney World Resort led a team which carried out Disney’s charge of creating magic for the millions of children and adults who visit the parks and resorts each year. Cockerell told his staff, “It’s not the magic that makes it work, but the way we work that makes it magic.”
Last month, the Lake Norman Chamber recognized Joe Douglas, founding partner of Captiva Restaurant Group (CRG) as the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year. Captiva developed 131 Main in 2004 and Cowboy in 2017. Joe’s company now has five restaurants employing 400 people serving 60,000 diners a month. In 2009, CRG developed the Tenders / PDQ concept which has grown into a national chain with 70 units nationwide.
It was inspiring as he stood in front of 200 Lake Norman business leaders singled out as The McIntosh Law Firm’s Passion to Succeed recipient.
Quite often an entrepreneur’s idea starts at the kitchen table with a checkbook or credit card. An entrepreneur reaches for the stars and even if they fall short, they clear the tree tops, leaving the ground far below. Douglas, much like Disney himself, started with a vision of what could be if you used your imagination and perhaps added a little magic.
Sam Ewing, former Major League Baseball Player once said, “Nothing is so embarrassing as watching someone do something that you said could not be done.”
That is the spirit of entrepreneurship. Being told you can’t do something and you go out and do it anyway. Simply, not allowing others to place limitations on what you can accomplish.
Entrepreneurs know they cannot really rely on magic to make their ideas work. It takes vision, hard work, and perseverance. Sometimes like the Major Leaguer, you swing and you miss… but when they succeed, they create a little magic of their own.