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Leader Mojo

February 7, 2013

The Success Lesson Disney Kept in His Hat

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Written by: Tony McCollum

Early in his career, Walt Disney released a short film called The Three Little Pigs.  It was a phenomenal hit.  The catchy song from the short skyrocketed up the charts and together the song and the cartoon captured the imagination of the nation.

In fact, the short was so popular that it was held over and over by theater owners for months.  It ran with various feature films but people were coming to see the short and not the features.  Disney certainly had hits before this but this was a viral hit before there were viral hits.

With such a huge success on his hands, Disney was asked for sequels by the theater owners.  He obliged and eventually released three other shorts featuring the three little pigs.  Each of the sequels was good but none could capture the creativity, or the success, of the original.  This taught young Disney a valuable lesson that he carried with him for the rest of his life, literally.

Walt kept a slogan pasted in the top of his porkpie hat that just said, “You can’t top pigs with pigs.”

He had learned that you can’t rest on your laurels.  He now knew that copying an early success over and over again doesn’t really yield much in the long run.

The truth is that our successes should be used as springboards to greater, more fulfilling challenges and successes not closed loops of sameness.

Disney eventually left the pigs behind and moved on to create an amazing legacy of stunning feature length animations as well as scores of technical innovations.

Years later when Snow White became such a mega hit for Disney, he was repeatedly asked to bring the breakaway character, Dopey, back to the screen in some fashion.  He refused, simply saying “You can’t top pigs with pigs.”

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About the Author

Tony McCollum
I'm the senior pastor of Fusion Church. I've been in the ministry for over 20 years. I'm also the founder of many sites such as, and Most importantly, I like ice cream.



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