Stick-to-it-ivity and the Tale of Two Brothers …
Welcome back! I hope everyone had a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend.
When I began my thought process for this week’s post, it struck me that there are many topics we’ll be talking about over the coming weeks and months to help make us Wealthy Web Writers.
So instead of picking one randomly, I thought, “What are the common denominators in everything that we’ll be talking about as time goes on?”
And I think the answer to that … much like the “ambition” and “determination” factors I mentioned in my first post … lays in creativity and execution.
These two tasks are inextricably intertwined for us copywriters. Call it “right brain, left brain,” call it “Yin and Yang,” call it what you will … but one without the other is like having the blueprints but nobody to build the building. (Or, conversely, builders without a clue as to what to do!)
The challenge to us as writers lies with cultivating our less-dominant trait. For example, some of us can write the most compelling copy known to mankind, but when it comes to formatting it into a direct mail letter that demonstrates a nice flow from lead to picture, to proof, to push, to close, we’re lost.
Or, perhaps we can write good SEO content with strong calls-to-action, but when it comes to loading it into a home page and going live with it on the Web, we hit a technological brick wall that prevents us from finishing the job.
Then again, on the other hand, some of us are technologically proficient but couldn’t sell hacksaw blades in a prison commissary.
The point is you need both—to be able to create compelling copy and then execute that copy in a manner that will make your customer money, and consequently, make a whole boatload of bucks for yourself.
The good news is that there’s always a place to turn for help. You can learn the creative and/or technological aspects of whatever forms of copywriting you choose from the many fine courses and programs AWAI offers. Or, you can choose to partner with an “alter-ego” that may be proficient in the skills you lack, but is looking for someone that excels in the strength of what you can bring to the table.
For example, if you’re proficient at writing SEO content, you could look for a website designer to collaborate with, or if you excel at graphic design, you might partner with someone who knows how to put together a kick-ass direct mail letter.
No one excels at everything and there’s always a way to work around what you may be lacking in and still get the job done.
Of course, that leaves far too many variables to cover in the span of one short blog post. Suffice it to say that each of us knows (or at least suspects!) our strengths and our weaknesses.
So instead I thought I’d tell you a quick story that kind of ties it all together. It’s the story of …
Stick-to-it-ivity and the Tale of Two Brothers …
When one thinks of the Walt Disney Company, images of timeless characters, classic movies, and theme parks come to mind. But none of it may have materialized had Walt not had a propensity for seeing projects through to the end, no matter what obstacles he encountered. He even coined a phrase for it: Stick-to-it-ivity.
But while Walt Disney was a creative genius, a moneyman he decidedly was not! In fact, had Disney’s finances been left up to Walt in the early days, there most certainly wouldn’t be a Walt Disney Company today. Keeping operations afloat (read: Walt’s dreams alive … ) fell solely on the shoulders of his brother, Roy, who was a banker by trade.
In the early years of the Disney Company Walt nearly lost everything to a conniving movie distributor named Charles Mintz. Mintz had told Walt that he had a major studio that wanted a series starring a rabbit and asked Walt to create the character. Mintz refused to tell Walt the name of the studio until all the details of the contract were set in stone. The studio turned out to be none other than Universal. (No wonder you’re encouraged not to mention the “U” word when you visit Walt Disney World!)
The new series, called, “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit,” was a huge success. But when Walt asked Mintz for more money per cartoon, Mintz instead offered him a pay cut saying, “take it or I’ll ruin you.”
And he just about did.
Mintz sent his brother-in-law, George Winkler, to the Disney studios supposedly to collect completed Oswald reels. The primary reason for his being there, however, was to hire away most of Walt’s artists. It soon became apparent to Walt that Mintz and Universal were attempting to dismantle Disney and takeover operations. The final kick in the pants came when Roy Disney had an attorney look over the fine print of the contract Walt had signed with Mintz. The attorney discovered that Walt had unknowingly signed over ownership of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to Universal Pictures.
Walt had trusted Mintz and the man robbed him blind. Consequently, Walt lost his only cartoon character and quite nearly his entire animation staff. It would have been easy to cash it all in. Instead of despairing though, Walt’s propensity for “Stick-to-it-ivity” rose to the top.
On a train ride back to New York from Los Angeles, wondering what he was going to tell Roy and pondering how he was going to replace Oswald, he remembered a little mouse that he had tamed at the Laugh-O-gram Films studio in Kansas City many years earlier. Mickey (who Walt originally named, “Mortimer,” but changed to “Mickey” at the urging of his wife, Lilly) was born on that train ride and the rest, as they say, is history. In a 1934 article Walt wrote for “The Windsor Magazine,” he commented on that particular time of his life:
“But was I downhearted? Not a bit! I was happy at heart. For out of the trouble and confusion stood a mocking, merry little figure. Vague and indefinite at first. But it grew and grew and grew. And finally arrived—a mouse. A romping, rollicking little mouse … By the time my train had reached the Middle West I had dressed my dream mouse in a pair of red velvet pants with two huge pearl buttons, had composed the first scenario and was all set.”
(As a side note—Disney recently reacquired the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and Disney CEO, Robert Igor, plans to reintroduce the character to the Disney lineup.)
The story above is only one example of the many times in his life that Walt Disney depended on Stick-to-it-tivity to see him through tough times and challenges. He used his creative skills in developing Mickey, and together with Roy, came up with the means to execute him. (Hmmm … That just doesn’t sound right!)
We’ll examine some more stories from Walt and other heroes of mine in the months to come. In the meantime, dream big and let your ideas excite you. Then just practice “Stick-to-it-ivity” and find that fortitude within yourself to see a project through to its completion … even in the face of adversity and challenges. Find your alter ego like Walt had in Roy. You’ll be amazed at the things you can accomplish.
Remember … ”When life hands you lemons … break out the salt and Tequila!”
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