A proud quirk of mine is that I’m passionate about the historical Disney brand. Walt Disney accomplished amazing feats in his lifetime through his hard work, creativity, resilience, and his ability to inspire others to remain young at heart.
Now, why the heck am I passionate about Disney? Our family participated in many treks to Disneyland when I grew up in San Diego and we made a few trips to Walt Disney World in Florida. Growing up with the Disney Channel (DuckTales… WOO-OO) and the Mickey Mouse cartoons, my passion for Disney increased through my young age and still remains in adulthood. I admire Disney’s consistent mission to promote good values while entertaining families so the entire family can create memories together – versus merely entertaining the kids or the adults separately.
Whenever I need to relax from the demands of entrepreneurship, one of my hobbies is to read books about Walt Disney and the Disney company. This continued passion allows me to learn many lessons about business, creativity, teamwork, branding, leadership, and even money.
Welcome to our three-part blog series about the lessons I learned from Disney. It’s fun to share the information I’ve absorbed through my years from reading many books, working in Florida’s Tomorrowland in 2007 as part of the Disney College Program, and my lifelong enthusiasm towards this brand.
This article focuses on Money Lessons and we’ll share articles about Business and Life Lessons in the near future. Hope you enjoy this magical article about money!
5 Disney Money Lessons
1) See Money as a Tool
Many people get caught up with the need to have money. This need to have money isn’t supported with any intention on how to use the accumulated money; but people feel secure to look at an increasing bank account number for no reason other than to see that cash value grow.
Instead of obsessing over the amount in your bank account, see money as a tool to do fun things. Here’s a great quote from Walt Disney:
“Money is something I understand only vaguely, and think about it only when I don’t have enough to finance my current enthusiasm, whatever it may be. All I know about money is that I have to have it to do things. I don’t want to bank my dividends, I’d rather keep my money working. I regard it as a moral obligation to pay back borrowed money. When I make a profit, I don’t squander it or hide it away; I immediately plow it back into a fresh project. I have little respect for money as such; I regard it merely as a medium for financing new ideas. I neither wish nor intend to amass a personal fortune. Money – or rather the lack of it to carry out my ideas – may worry me, but it does not excite me. Ideas excite me.”
Overall lesson: just like Walt, see money as a way to fund the life you want to live.
2) Don’t Try to Time the Stock Market
Walt Disney smoked throughout his life and this habit led his health to deteriorate quickly in his mid-sixties. On December 15th, 1966, the world lost a visionary who made people smile through his films, theme parks, and his hard work. While the world grieved, some people saw Walt’s death as an opportunity to make money. A quote from Charles Ridgeway’s book titled, Spinning Disney’s World: Memories of a Magic Kingdom Press Agent:
“One photographer, who worked for United Press International, saw an advance alert on the wire that day [the day Walt Disney died] and promptly called his broker to sell his Disney stock. Like many others, he thought with Walt gone, the company would go downhill fast. As a matter of fact, the stock went up immediately, as Wall Street figured the company’s library of animated films would be sold at big profits.”
For a visual, here’s a historical chart showing Disney Stock (Stock ticker: DIS) from 12/15/1966 to 10/01/2017.
Timing the stock market is near impossible, so discover investment strategies which make sense with your investment philosophy and then stick to your plan. Predicting how financial markets will react to news will only create stress and, typically, more strikeouts than home runs. If you wish to swing for the fences in the stock market, do so with your hobby money versus your retirement money.
A friendly plug for our Investment Management Services if you need help navigating this investment world.
3) Be Generous With Your Assets
Towards the end of his life, Walt Disney began to focus on his legacy. One of his passion projects was to develop the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) to educate future animators so they could delight the world with their drawings. Walt Disney said about the program, “CalArts is the principal thing I hope to leave when I move on to greener pastures. If I can help provide a place to develop the talent of the future, I think I will have accomplished something.”
Yet, he passed away before he could finish developing the school and this is when karma surfaced. Tommie Blount was Walt Disney’s secretary for around nine years and Walt became a father figure to her. At her wedding, Walt walked Tommie down the aisle and generously paid for her reception. Her husband described Tommie’s reaction to Walt Disney’s death in the following quote from Pat Williams’ book titled How to Be Like Walt:
“Tommie was devastated when Walt died, but she stayed on for a couple of years to help with unfinished projects, such as CalArts. Walt had been so kind to Tommie, and she wanted to help complete Walt’s last unfinished dreams.”
Find opportunities to give back and have faith that these good actions will help others. You’ll then create a more harmonious planet which may repay the favor to you one day. And if not, you can gain the confidence that you’re leading by example to inspire more generosity throughout the world.
4) Invest In Opportunities
Invest in your future self by gaining new skills through school, continuing education programs, or by spending money on new technology. Walt Disney mortgaged his house to help fund his Disneyland vision in 1955. But even before that, a decision to fund new technology in 1928 paved way for the opportunity to create Disneyland in the first place. As Walt Disney said, “It all started with a mouse.”
Movie theaters of the early 1900’s hosted piano players to play music alongside silent films. This all changed when The Jazz Singer premiered in 1927 as the first picture with synchronized sound. This new technology in the late 1920s began to excite the country and Walt Disney was no exception. Mickey Mouse already starred in two silent animated shorts, Plane Crazy and The Gallopin’ Goucho, but it was time to upgrade.
Walt convinced his business manager and brother, Roy O. Disney, to fund a new Mickey Mouse cartoon with synchronized sound. Walt needed money to invest in new technology, animation techniques, and musical players to create an audio track to accompany Mickey Mouse’s animated adventure titled Steamboat Willie.
Walt didn’t want to cut any corners in this project since he knew this technology could launch Mickey Mouse’s popularity. Walt needed to convince Roy to fund this adventure as shown by a letter asking for more money, “I am firmly convinced that it will be far cheaper in the long run to go into [the production of Steamboat Willie] in the proper manner… Let’s do things in the proper way and not try to save a penny here and there.”
The result, audiences loved the mischievous Mickey Mouse whistling down the river in his steamboat and all the new gags in this animated short. The audience wanted more Disney and we all know the rest of the story. To see the classic cartoon for yourself, watch the below video. Entertainment in 1928 proves different than today’s standards and you’ll see that Mickey Mouse was a mischievous brat before he became his present-day kindhearted character.
Overall lesson: don’t be afraid to invest in your future self because new opportunities are presented when you gain new skills.
5) Be Proud of Your Money
I couldn’t write a Disney article about money without mentioning the famous Scrooge McDuck. In 2013, Forbes ranked Scrooge McDuck as the richest fictional character with a net worth of $65.4 billion (which is open to interpretation).
A gleeful smile is on Scrooge McDuck’s face when he dives into his legendary money pit. The lesson here is to learn that you can enjoy your money and not feel bad about possessing it.
Money doesn’t have to make you feel dirty and doesn’t need to be viewed as the root of all evil. Money is earned through hard work – be it your own or your family’s. See it as something to be proud of versus as an evil tool. As Walt Disney said:
“Some people forget that you can still do good work even though you work with dollar bills.”
Thanks for reading and if you want guidance on how to navigate your personal finances, please get in touch with me or learn more at Well-Rounded Success’ Services on the website.
About the Author
Dan Andrews is the Leader & CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ of Well-Rounded Success. Dan enjoys guiding and encouraging millennials through their ‘adulting’ responsibilities. His behavioral-finance style focuses on helping individuals in the Well-Rounded Success community define his/her own definition of success, make good decisions, and to also be philanthropic while along their journeys.