This paper will compare Walt Disney, representing the traditional entrepreneur, with Bill Miller. The Disney brand is embedded in the minds of millions around the world. In fact, it would be very difficult to find anyone who hasn’t been or dreamt of going to any of the Disney amusement parks. Walt Disney, nee Walter Elias Disney, is an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, and philanthropist (Wikipedia, 2011). During his teenage years, he had begun entertaining many with his cartoons and Laugh-O-Grams.
Disney, innovator and entrepreneur, eventually opened his own Hollywood studio with his brother Roy, which has grown into a multi-billion dollar empire. Disney, as a more traditional entrepreneur, knew very early in life that he wanted to pursue some form of artistic animation that audiences that could connect to on a deeper level. He wanted to impact the human element with the stories he told using the characters he designed. Bill Miller too, has made a strong impact in the lives of many. Bill Miller’s video is quite moving.
His story as an entrepreneur “who happens to be a quadriplegic” and his acceptance of his circumstance are compelling and inspirational. Miller has impacted the lives of many wheelchair-bound individuals and their respective families and friends, specifically with his innovative apparatus that provides those who are paralyzed the ability to go bowling. His aim, as stated on his website, was to enhance the quality of life of the disabled by affording them the same opportunities of fun entertainment that fully mobile individuals enjoy. Of course, he did not set out to be paralyzed from the neck down.
In fact, I’m sure if he were asked if he could go back to August 23, 1997, he would probably be honest in saying he would have made some different life choices. Nonetheless, the key quality that was conveyed by Miller’s video was the absence of self-deprecation. In fact, his framing of problems as challenges that need to be conquered is a critical aspect of his entrepreneurial mindset that has helped him develop and promote his business ideas. Additionally, his attitude has been instrumental in overcoming the limitations of his condition. Disney and Miller share this entrepreneurial spirit.
Though their circumstances and approaches are different, they share high levels of passion, optimism, ambition, adaptability, energy and persistence to follow through with innovative (and not –so innovative) ideas into fruition. Both entrepreneurs discussed herein have pursued ambitious creative works that are not easily achieved, and in Miller’s case, not easily conceivable. The notion that quadriplegics can bowl is astonishing, yet Miller has achieved this incredible feat and is developing other recreational projects to help others meet their everyday challenges.
Miller and Disney have shown that an entrepreneur’s success is not dependent on the product manufactured but on the individual who spearheads the product or service to its various stages. For instance, in the 1960’s, it probably would have been difficult for Disney to find funds to build the Experimental Prototype City (or Community) of Tomorrow, known today as the EPCOT theme park in Orlando, Florida, where park visitors learn about cultures from all around the world and here diversity is embraced. Thankfully, he was an optimistic visionary who saw beyond the present and as a result, millions today share the vision and hope of a better tomorrow. Miller scores high in adaptability. Entrepreneurs have to continuously improve and customize their goods and services to meet consumer demands and needs. The best entrepreneurs are able to step ahead, modify or create a product to the consumer’s needs, sometimes before the consumer even realizes they have this need.
Miller mentioned that there wasn’t even a market for the IKAN Bowler but one developed after he successfully operated it himself and with the help of his partners, he marketed it effectively. I strongly believe that quadriplegics (and paraplegics) never would have thought it possible for them to ever experience the thrill of accomplishing any recreational activity that adds back some normalcy to their lives; but Miller has clearly shown that he does not believe in the impossible.