Outlier On Air | Founders, Disruptors, & Mavens
219: Jeff Barnes Interview - The Wisdom of Walt

"If there is no conflict, there is no story." - Jeff Barnes

About: Jeff Barnes - Author, Professional Key Note speaker, Higher Education Administrator, University Professor, and Leadership Success Coach

Jeffrey A. Barnes is an author, professional keynote speaker, higher education administrator, university professor and leadership/success coach. He has taught more than twenty different college courses in both the traditional classroom and online--including The History of Disneyland for California Baptist University.

Jeff lives in Riverside, California with his family. When he is not teaching or writing, he enjoys spending as much time as possible at "The Happiest Place on Earth."

Overview: With a Doctorate in Narrative Criticism, Jeff is completely fascinated with the idea of story. He has spent much of his life studying Walt Disney, and shares more with us about what he learned from Walt's life, and what we can learn from his business ventures.


Background: When Jeff went to Disney World for the first time at the age of 10, it was love at first sight. While he wasn't able to attend Disneyland until he was in college- it was there that he came to see the vision that Walt Disney had for his patrons. His passion for understanding Walt Disney as a business man led him to study, research, and later publish a book called The Wisdom of Walt. Jeff's book dives into the life of Walt Disney and shows us what we can learn from Disney's failures and successes. Through an unexpected path, Jeff has also been able to teach Disney classes at CBU and still does today.

The Life of Walt Disney: Jeff shares with us that Walt was simply complex. He was very much a family man, and it was actually his dedication to his time with his daughters that inspired him to create Disneyland. He was also complex in that he was very particular in what he liked and what he didn't. People knew that Walt was the boss. Walt had a way of pushing people to say yes. And because of that, the team was better, the organization was better, and the dream was better. He was truly a visionary leader; the last thing he was about was maintaining the status quo.

Setbacks For Walt: Surprisingly, Walt had as many if not more failures than the average entrepreneur. For example, he went bankrupt at his first studio in Kansas City. He had a difficult childhood and was haunted by the financial difficulties of his father, and what his family wanted him to do in his career. Nobody believed in his dream of Disneyland, Snow White, Fantasia, or even Pinocchio. Walt Disney also lost his mother after moving her to a home he bought for his parents in North Hollywood. It was something that weighed heavy on his heart and rarely spoke about.

Starting Jeff's Disney Class: Jeff was very hesitant to ask about creating his Disney class, but when he finally did he had nothing but positive feedback. He then spent the next year tackling the curriculum and preparing for his university class. The day after Jeff had his first class, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was told he needed to have surgery right away. However, the operation would put him out for six to eight weeks, and Jeff did not want to put on hold what he had worked so hard for. So, he delayed his operation to fulfill his dream and has been teaching the class ever since.

Advice for Entrepreneurs: If you're sitting around as an entrepreneur waiting for someone to be the hero, you're it. Challenge yourself to look at what's really going on in the stories around you, and amusement parks you attend. Find your spark of motivation. Walt did not start out as someone special, he was exactly where you are at some point. He simply made the choice to become someone special and has left a powerful legacy behind because of it.

Book: The Wisdom of Walt

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Direct download: Jeff.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:13pm MST