Risky Business

Creative Commons Attribution: Sam HowzitWalt Disney is arguably one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time; not only for the profitable empire he pioneered, but for his lasting impact on the world. This article, featured recently on Linkedin, suggests there were two important facets of Walt Disney’s personality that contributed to his success: he was a risk-seeker and a customer delighter.


The author shares why this was so important to Disney’s success and how we can learn from it: “Profits come from risk. There is no other way they could ever materialize. Entrepreneurs are society’s perennial risk takers. Some lose; some win. But profits are the result of giving to others, humbling yourself to their needs first, long before you can expect to take anything in return… When I hear people say they’re in business to make a profit, I know they are chasing the wrong rabbit. If you’re in business solely to make a profit, you won’t. Profits are a lagging indicator of customer behavior.” He goes on to describe how Disney has mastered the art of creating a customer experience, because he took the time to understand the customer’s needs and exceeded expectations. “It not only requires continuous feedback from the customer on how you’re doing, but also on what they want and expect.”


No matter your business, risk-aversion and a lack of customer understanding can kill it. Companies that are on the top of their industry, and stay there, have one thing in common. They allocate resources for healthy innovation programs or centers, like 3M andDuPont, and are constantly checking in with their customers.
Here at Innovation Focus we find that our clients get a much richer experience when they do what we call “Discovery and Innovation” which is a combination of immersive consumer research and visionary beginning concept development.


In the words of Disney when it comes to risking big, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” And understanding customers…”You can design, and create and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make that dream a reality.”


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