The essence of the life of Walt Disney, dreamer, innovator, entrepreneur and protean exporter of American culture--and dead for 40 years this month--has eluded biographers. Until now. The Hollywood historian Neal Gabler masterfully fills the gap with his 851-page Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination
(Alfred A. Knopf). If you're in search of a long, satisfying holiday vacation read, this is the book.
I read it from San Francisco to Miami (and back) and during our tenth FORBES Cruise for Investors in the eastern Caribbean Sea. So good was Walt Disney
that I skipped a snorkeling trip in Grand Turk and a splash with the dolphins in Tortola. I will now publicly beg my abandoned wife's forgiveness. Honey, the book was that good.
Enough gushing. Here's why I liked it. Walt Disney
is the best business book I've read in years. That's not a high bar, as most books written directly to address business challenges are hopeless bores, of course. Of the few good ones, most are only indirectly about business. Last year I recommended, as a terrific "business" book, Wooden on Leadership
, by John Wooden, former head basketball coach for UCLA. A couple of years ago I hailed Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Church
as a useful read. Just substitute "business" for "church" and it's all there.
In Walt Disney
Gabler takes us inside the heart and head of one of our greatest entrepreneurs. Here are some lessons Walt has to teach: