Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from

How To Be Like Walt

Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life

By Pat Williams
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
How To Be Like Walt by Pat Williams

How to Be Like Walt (2004) takes a close look at the life of one of the most prolific and successful artists of the last century. These blinks detail the incredible career of Walt Disney, paying special attention to the characteristics that made him great – characteristics that we all might strive to emulate.

Key idea 1 of 9

As a young boy, Disney worked hard and was a showman in school.

In the Disney movie, Cinderella, a young, charming girl suffers abuse at the hands of her evil stepmother and stepsisters, toiling away to meet their every need. It sounds like a fiction, but it could be that Walt Disney was inspired to adapt this story because of his own troubled childhood.

Here’s the story:

Disney, just like Cinderella, learned the meaning of hard work at a young age. In 1909, his father, Elias, fell ill and was forced to sell the family farm. Elias moved the family to Kansas City where he got a job managing one of the distribution points for the local newspaper, the Kansas City Star.

But this new job didn’t make life any easier: Walt and his brother Roy had to work for their father, for no pay. They would wake up at 3:30 every morning, rain or shine, to deliver papers before they went to school – and after school there was more work preparing the next day’s deliveries.

You can imagine how these formative experiences stayed with Walt throughout his life. In fact, in later years, he often had nightmares in which he would be trudging through snowstorms, facing punishment for missing a delivery.

So Disney’s childhood impacted his work, but he was also fascinated by fantasy and entertainment as a schoolboy. Although he was a less-than-stellar student, often daydreaming, doodling or fighting the impulse to fall asleep, Walt was nothing if not the class entertainer.

For instance, in the fifth grade, he donned an Abraham Lincoln costume for the president’s birthday, complete with a scarf, a stovepipe hat and a beard he’d found in a costume shop. When his teacher asked him why he was dressed like Lincoln, Disney said it was the president’s birthday and he wanted to recite one of Lincoln’s most famous speeches, the Gettysburg address, for the class.

The speech was a hit and Walt was allowed to repeat his performance for the entire school.

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Learn more, live more

Sign up now to learn and grow every day with the key ideas from top nonfiction and podcasts in 15 minutes.