Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Marty Sklar's reflections on Disney

My book post on the s+b blog this week is about an insider's view of Disney-style leadership and language:

Leadership Lessons from the World of Walt Disney

I’ve been enjoying Marty Sklar’s memoir Dream It! Do It!: My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms (Disney Editions, 2013). Sklar is a legend in the Walt Disney Company (literally) and among Disney aficionados worldwide. He joined the company as a summer intern in the public relations office in 1955, a month before Disneyland opened. After graduating from UCLA in 1956, he returned to Disney as a full-time employee and stayed until his retirement in 2009. Sklar spent most of his career in Walt Disney Imagineering, the company’s design and development subsidiary, and served as its president from 1987–1996.

Dream It! Do It! reveals that Sklar was also Walt Disney’s go-to ghostwriter for much of the last decade of his life, and it provides a firsthand description of Walt’s leadership style during that momentous period in the company’s history. When Sklar joined the company, Walt was a veteran leader who had made a big bet: He was launching a new, unproven business that most everyone predicted would be a flop, including his own brother Roy, who held the purse strings at Disney. When Walt pitched him the idea for Disneyland, he refused to back it. Walt forced Roy’s hand by forming a new company and financing the planning on his own. Eventually, Roy relented. It was a smart decision: In 2012, Disney’s parks and resorts business generated US$12.9 billion in the rest here

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