Every year, it seems like my Christmas “want” list gets smaller. As a supposed full-on adult, I feel less of a need to ask for things as much as just going out and getting them myself. But, I do leave a little room for a short list of “would love’s” that I share with the fam. One such gift (thanks Mom!) was Yesterday’s Tomorrow by longtime Disney producer Don Hahn. The book concentrates on Walt Disney’s various visionary projects and collaborations, largely over the span of the 50s and 60s up until his untimely death in 1966. And man, it doesn’t disappoint. But more on that in a minute…
Disney’s captivated me since my early days, when I was just dreaming of an art career. Being a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, I had the luxury of having access to The Disney Channel, which not only showed new content, but a lot of the classic shows and shorts of yesteryear. Yet, always the most fascinating part for me was watching Walt Disney himself host Disneyland, a TV show largely dedicated to all of the new Mouse House projects at the time.
This is where the man himself would invite millions of Americans into his studio, walking us through a labyrinth of seemingly endless rooms and sound stages, meeting artists, composers and sometimes even nuclear physicists. To me, it was kind of like having Santa Claus or Willie Wonka giving your 12 year old self a tour of his secret factory. Even back then, Walt knew that by giving people access, he was creating added emotional buy-in.
Vision and Storytelling.
What Yesterday’s Tomorrow does is pull that curtain back even more to help you synthesize Walt’s grand vision and prolific output during the height of his power. It is beautifully laid out with tons of great photos and artwork. Despite its fairly small page count (176), the book does pack in quite a bit of content – certainly enough for you to shake your head in disbelief that someone could accomplish so much in such a short period of time. I think we can all admit the difficulty in naming many people in history that have collaborated with such titans as Leopold Stokowski, Salvador Dali, Welton Becket, Ruth Shellhorn, Duke Ellington and Wernher von Braun.
What I love about this book is that it gives even a casual reader the ability to envision what one person can do when they combine persistence, curiosity, vision and collaboration. It also made me realize that although my appreciation for his work has changed over the years, his presence and inspiration still looms large. Highly recommended for anyone who loves art, branding, business and the human spirit.