Tag Archives: Disney

Walt Disney: Departmentalize By Perceived Skills (back then gender was a proxy) / Furnish Your Personal Brand


Disney ReLesson: Departmentalize Perceived Capabilities By Gender & Exploit Menial Labour? Oh My: Speaking from a place of white privilege (real and imagined); I can say this letter is unacceptable by today’s standards [insert date/time/year here], obviously. Disney was only training young men? Rejecting women applicants out of turn? Would it have been a dangerous work environment for a young lady to work in? Taking a step back, the above letter is appalling and yet beautifully illustrated at the same time, so there is a silver lining: likely photo duplicated illustrations. This letter exemplifies what might have been happening all the time in an era where it was socially acceptable for women to be considered for only certain functions AND there was a sort of human resource logic that technically still exists today around “skills and capabilities” based hiring.

Would the female applicant have got the role if she had a specific portfolio of drawings mailed in as well? Is that even practical to mail in? We know logically life is not fair and that if you want a job you need to present your value add right out of the gate, regardless of the era. Here is what was going on in the HR manager’s mind: “I have five minutes to decide if I will hire you, you didn’t do cartooning in another studio and you’re from a monolithic group identity that doesn’t align with our goals / workflow / pin-ups in the kitchen / division of labour therefore no job for you” – Disney HR manager. This still happens today all the time in multiple directions, not hiring men at the nail salon etc! Career changers have a difficult time because they don’t have a track record and hiring manager don’t want to risk hiring the wrong person. HR is about making assumptions about the applicant + previous roles + filtering GPA + other variables. Remember that HR stands for Human Roadblock.

A little background, Burbank Studio opened in 1940. All executive and artists were men. Women were in the inking and painting department exclusively. This menial work was demeaning according to many. You were timed to see how quickly you painted and inked the cellophane. Once a women turned 30, it was well known that her hands ‘would be too shaky’ to continue working on inking. Seems like an abrupt logic around a specific age here; kind of like the drinking age laws (if only we could measure maturity!)….Anyway, Walt Disney has been called a racist from a small town in some re-tellings. Walt Disney had prejudices and was considered to be anti-sematic although this is only hearsay. In an unsavoury staff meeting, Disney actively warned the women in Ink and Paint from trying to get in bed with their animator staff. I guess, back then, work was pretty segregated. The men probably couldn’t be trusted to handle themselves around young women so better to blame the victim? Other controversies include the fact that P.L. Travers apparently completely hated Mary Poppins the film and that the recent Saving Mr. Banks is a complete whitewash of what happened in reality.

I digress. Life is not fair and no human-managed-entity can correct that unfairness without displacing others, hence my pro-AI perspective.

walt-disneyFurnish Your Personal Brand: back in the 1930s, you would address your superior by their surname. Walt Disney famously asked that people refer to him as “Walt” or “Uncle Walt”.  In old news footage, it was revealed that ABC Disneyland Episodes were shot in colour because Disney knew that colour was going to be the future of television. From all his brand management work, Disney had built up his image as an Uncle to children around the world. The reality was quite stark but that doesn’t seem to matter much now. Any cruelty or prejudice exacted by Disney is counter-balanced by the most impactful children’s entertainment around. A good brand can withstand a lot with the right kind of Public Relations.

Walt Disney: The Committee Of Minds Is Inferior To The Visionary With The Right Vision

MickeyMouse ThemedDisney was a creative thinker, engineer, project manager and master storyteller. The real way to get entertainment was to have personalities tell a coherent story. A good Disney film always has personalities dealing with various problems. Disney would always lighten-up when describing his characters. Story boarding the entire films was important to Disney; the narrative was built from scratch.

Disney CharactersDisney famously told the entire plot of Snow White to his animator team over a 3-hour session complete with all the voices done by himself. Walt Disney created the blueprint for his films in his head; he even told his nephew the entire story of Pinocchio one evening start to finish. Disney was full of energy and was always thinking of how to build a bigger future for his enterprise. He would fire people on the spot whenever he wanted because he was truly powerful. After Walt Disney died of lung cancer in 1966, the Disney company was at a crossroads regarding how it should move forward.

Black Cauldron FailureLike some many visionaries; up until the renaissance at Disney starting with the Little Mermaid, the Disney company had produced fragmented films. The films subsequent to Walt’s leadership were less successful, Michael Eisner believed this was because the creative process was disjointed because decisions were made in a committee (where ever contribution had to be negotiated in or out of the narrative) rather than by an authoritarian visionary who could veto any idea or person. You need to have an executive creative director who has good judgement. Someone had to be the producer and that relationship was that the producer’s vision is the over-riding vision: it always has to subjugate the others to the final decision maker.

Walt Disney: Diversify Animation Into Different Mediums

DisneylandMake sure you have a tangible outcome from your work. Disneyland opened in 1955 and served to solidify Disney influence. Walt Disney was building a physical park. Disney wanted to make a clean amusement park. Violi Theme Park was very clean and popcorn lights. The movies were central to the business. Michael Eisner created movies like Saturday Night Fever, Beverley Hills Cop. And bought TouchStone Pictures. Movies are about ideas. Disney movies were still the central progenitor of continued rebirth. You kinda have to take your kids to Disneyland. The always positive Walt Disney. DisneyCruiseLine was also another extension of Walt Disney’s original view that “there should be a place for children and parents to have together.” Family cruising was the new business plan well after Walt Disney had passed away. The Disney business has expanded further…

Walt Disney: Always Dreaming Of Tomorrow / Engineer Your Future

Disneyland ParkDisneyland was finished in 1955 in Anaheim California but it had a limited size and the value of the land around Disneyland was astronomical once the business model was proven to be highly successful. Hotels, restaurants were built around Disneyland which made expansion difficult. As a result of the difficulties faced in California, Walt Disney was engaged in a cloak and dagger ploy to buy land and then build a massive theme park in central Florida.

Walt Disney Amusement ParkIn 1964, Walt was able to purchase a great deal of land but it had to be done secretly. $180 per acre was the cost for a total of 27,000 acres of swampland. The utilitor was built on the ground floor and Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was actually build 14 feet above this walkway system for employees. DisneyWorld was opened in 1971 with an attendance that hit 10 million in less than two years. The theme park was the perfect tourist attraction. One of the powerful ideas fuelinf Disney World was that DisneyWorld is the never-ending plus-able theme park. Walt Disney World is ‘always in a state of becoming’ implying that DisneyWorld is never finished. As a child we were always told that.

Disney World FloridaIn reality, DisneyWorld has brand power such that it no longer needs to expand its development. It was an ingenious design. Epcot was the vision of modern planned communicty development. For Disney, building something real which is tangible gives you more control. If Walt Disney asked that you did something, you’d better make it real. Optimal Behaviorists push to maintain the top of their energy with a feeling of optimistism. Disney lived by this credo of using every minute of the day to achieve set goals.