Imagine arising one morning realizing you were heading to your dream job, not simply slogging into a day’s work just to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. Imagine that morning becoming the dawn of a career path you’ve envisioned and steered yourself toward for quite some time, now becoming real! In May of 1988, I was fortunate to have experienced such a morning.
Winding through the tree-draped streets of Glendale, CA to collaborate with some of the world’s most talented artists, designers, engineers, architects, technicians, managers and administrators, I recalled the creative self-confidence my mentor, Gary Stadler, had shared with me in the early 1980s.
With Gary’s guidance, I had learned to machine a wide array of metals and plastics, assemble hand-made electronic circuit boards, and design + make laser light show optical systems. Bringing the fruits of our labor to market in the entertainment and corporate theater industries, I developed the skills to organize diverse theatrical productions across the U.S. and in several foreign cities, all the while running a profitable business. Together, Gary and I forged a strong friendship as we explored and discovered exciting creative/technical paths fueled from our passion-driven curiosities.
Back in Glendale, I pulled off Flower Street and approached a guard gate where I presented my Walt Disney Imagineering photo ID to a smiling, uniformed man who waved me through – into the place where every Disney theme park had been designed from the early 1950s onward. I knew this place well, learning what had been created within from a couple of obscure library books checked out as a kid – many years before the internet. I realized I never would have experienced this tangible moment had it not been for someone providing me with guidance and confidence to make it real. That someone in large part, was mentor Gary.
Going back even further, my initial Disney encounter was Disneyland itself on a sweltering June morning in 1968, a mere 18 months after Walt Disney’s passing. At the age of 10 something clicked in my consciousness, something I’ll never forget; the realization adults – including Walt himself – had created the then, 12-year old park. Later that summer afternoon, I knew from a passion deep within I would someday become a Disney Imagineer. Two decades later, the premonition – driven by an internal passion – became reality.
I write this more than fifty years later because I believe we all have a spark within ourselves able to bring forth wholehearted fulfillment, resulting in pleasurable lives. However, we all need a passion catalyst, a mentor, a coach — encouragement from someone who has trekked the trail ahead. Someone who listens to our dreams and is there to say: “Yes, it’s possible.”
I’ve produced a 19-minute video describing how one might imagine their career as a Disney Imagineer from my creative production perspective, since that’s the core of my professional experience. I made the video because I see everyone as a ‘creative,’ possessing untapped potential.
Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) literally builds small cities we call theme parks. The people inside WDI apply their diverse talents to elegantly solve complex problems – driven from unique ways of seeing solutions. Accountants, schedulers, landscape designers, environmental scientists, robotics experts, computer technicians, logistics analysts, and many others contribute in their own special way to materialize what become magically functional Disney environments. Building and spaces we want to be in.
Cities and urban projects all around our world can learn and benefit from how Imagineers think. You’ll find a bit of that thinking in the video.
Land planners and real estate developers can apply some of that magic to their own environmental, building, housing, recreation, and urban renewal projects. I invite you to listen to my thoughts while considering your own career path, and how your career dreams can come true… on a course to improve our world and the lives of others.