Investing lessons from Walt Disney


Kids across generations simply love the iconic characters that Walt Disney created, viz., Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Bambi and many others. However, Walter Elias Disney, who founded ‘The Walt Disney Company’ in 1923 did not get all this on a silver platter. He had to face many hurdles on the way and it was clearly his perseverance that helped take his company to its current glory.

It all started in Kansas City in the year 1921 when Walter (Walt) Disney formed an animation company called Laugh-O-Gram Films and used his exceptional talent not merely as a cartoonist, but as a salesman to raise as much as $15,000 (a princely sum in those days) for the company. Though he pitched hard and managed to get the funding from a New York distributor, the company did not last long.

Completely broke but undefeated, he refused to give up and reached Hollywood to approach Universal Studios with a new character called “Oswald the Rabbit”. They were not impressed with the new cartoon and sent him back. But, Disney went back to Universal Studios to try his luck again, only to find that his creation had been patented on the sly. His story could have ended right there after two serious blows in a row, but we all know today that it was only the beginning.

Unable to afford a decent boarding in Hollywood, he worked out of a small room where he had mice for company. These mice became the inspiration for the character Mortimer Mouse though it was later decided that Mickey would be a cooler name as it would have better recall among kids – the target audience for his cartoons. The iconic Mickey Mouse made its debut in a short film released in 1928 that was called “Steamboat Willie” and at once became popular with all age groups. A notable trivia is that even the adorable rodent was shot down before being aired as it was felt that a mouse would “terrify women”. However, Disney with his persuasion and persistence managed to convince distributors and the rest they say is history.

Walt Disney’s story has great learnings for the investment community. Instead of being bogged down by repeated failures and errors of judgement, it was his persistence and never say die attitude that finally brought unbridled success for him. Much in the same manner, success in your investment journey (which means achieving your life goals) too is not a matter of making that one great investment but making small but regular investments over your life-time. This is wonderfully summed up by the American author Robert Collier “Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.”

Mutual funds offer a facility called Systematic Investment Plans or SIPs to make regular investments (popular frequency is monthly). SIP is like a “Good EMI” – an investment not an instalment – as it helps to meet life goals. There will be volatile times when you may feel like exiting your SIPs but you need to draw inspiration from Walt Disney as the key is to remain persistent over the long term and create wealth in the process.



Information contained in this article is not a complete representation of every material fact and is for informational purposes only. The recipient is advised to consult its advisor/ tax consultant prior to arriving at any investment decision.

Author: Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund

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