“Even though I worked hard at times, it was always magical. I have to confess I enjoyed every minute of it. Even the down times I enjoyed, because we were creating something that would make people smile and lift their hearts. You can’t think of a better job than that.” – Floyd Norman
A tall skinny young man passed through the gates of the Walt Disney Studios. He was on his way to meet Ken Seiling in the Personnel Department. As he looked around the campus, he must have thought back to his childhood. He had been so inspired by Walt Disney cartoons and animated features. He loved drawing. He often found canvases to adorn with his art. That included, much to his parent’s dismay, even the walls of his house as a young child. Growing up he had dreamed of being part of Walt Disney’s magic factory. His dream motivated him to reach out to Disney and was eventually connected with Ken. Ken agreed to meet with him after he graduated from High School. Today was that day.
His dream was happening before his eyes. He was inside the Disney creative factory speaking with Ken. Ken offered him a job in Traffic. But understanding the young man’s passion he quickly added, the wise choice would be going back to school. “Go back to school,” may have been disappointing to hear. It would have been tempting to take the easier path and just settle for the Traffic job. However, that is not what happened. The young man took the advice and went back to school. Three years later in February 1956, he, along with other starry-eyed youngsters reported to work at 500 South Buena Vista Avenue to start their careers in the cartoon business. He later reflected, “like Alice, we had entered Wonderland.”
That young man was none other than Floyd Norman who went on to become a Disney Legend, spending over 60 years in animation. He is credited on many familiar titles including Sleeping Beauty, The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book, Mulan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc.
Like Floyd, we all have dreams. But how do we act on them? Do we settle or do we keep pursuing? Hopefully, like me, you are inspired by Floyd’s story to keep running after your dreams, don’t be afraid to reach out and try. But also, don’t be afraid to pivot, learn and try again. We may not all become Disney Legends like Floyd, but we can all run after our dreams and make a difference. It begins with us. Keep trying, keep the faith.
PS – Check out Floyd’s story in this great documentary on his life: Floyd Norman: An Animated Life