I was lucky enough to have had the fun of working my way through college at Disneyland. A long time ago, but the memories are still fresh. Fresh enough to have endured my recent IRS audit, the first in 25 years, by talking with my auditor who had been a contemporary of mine working there at the same time. The IRS and ‘magic’ don’t often go together, but the time passed with a number of mutual stories of Disney lore and the names of many shared contacts…and a small check at the end for a mistake on my return that meant I owed a wee bit more
In my first year at DLand I had the good fortune to see Walt Disney ride around the park in his small carriage, usually with a niece or nephew riding with him. His vision had created something special, and some of that died with him later that year. For a number of years, both as an undergrad and grad student, DLand funded my studies, and my first business experiences. After returning from a few years in the Army I noticed the real change. As DLand grew, and Walt Disney World became a reality, the company was guided by “WWWD” , What Would Walt Do! The company had leaders, but everyone still looked to Walt’s vision in making key decisions.
After some time, the WWWD stopped working, and the drift was very noticeable until Michael Eisner came in. His impact was immediate and very noticeable. WWWD was soon abolished and Eisner set the direction for the company for the next several years. Disney is still a magical place and a magical company, especially to its many ‘guests’.
In 1980 I bought my first computer, an Apple. For many years I was a total Apple guy. I found in Apple the same kinds of ‘magic’ that I had found earlier at Disney. In Steve Jobs, the perfectionist with a vision, guided Apple’s early years, just as Walt had done in days at Disney. This really comes out in the new Fortune article “Inside Apple.” In the review article “Apple Employees Tell the Secrets Behind Jobs “Magic” I found the similarities between the two men to be extraordinary.
Both men had a vision that was distinct and unique, and one that was more counter intuitive than most of their peers. They saw things others did not, and were willing to risk it all to make those visions real. Disney is still a top brand, but today Apple is the most admired brand in the world. To reach those lofty pinnacles it takes some luck, and more than a little “magic.
From the Fortune article it is apparent the working for Jobs is not easy, but it is good to see that they diligently work on investing and learning for their key staff with the Apple University, a very costly undertaking, that is preparing for the next generation of top leaders. Steve, though still young, has had his major health issues. I hope that Apple doesn’t need to create their own version of “WWSD” to guide them if he were to exit in the near future. The training and transition to the next group of leaders at Apple is now moving smoothly…and that should ensure that the “magic” will continue for Apple and for us in this changing digital world.