Big dreams. We all know a business that started with one powerful idea, a dream that continued to build impressive successes from unexpected and subtle origins. It’s not just a matter of growth but of connecting the dots to related opportunities. Entire new ventures are fueled by what is learned in the initial undertaking. It takes imagination, innovation and, most of all, openness to the cascading benefits of new ideas.
This is not always a dramatic departure and isn’t confined to mega companies like GE, Apple, Google and Amazon. It’s often an evolution born of learning, listening and adapting to the combinations of changing business needs and technical feasibility. It happens across the spectrum of size and industry. Take the case of C-4 Analytics, starting as a small marketing firm, and, in just a few years, morphing into an analytics platform now growing at 13,397%. Hugely successful companies aren’t all launched from a garage or dorm room. But some really are and we love those origin stories – the success of dreamers.
Think of The Walt Disney Co. ($175B market cap). Disney, now the highest-grossing media conglomerate in the world, started with cartoons crudely created in a California garage during the summer of 1923. It took determination and a belief in himself – Walt had previously been fired by the Kansas City Star for a lack of creativity. But Walt knew that his business wasn’t just making cartoons, it was making people happy. So he proceeded to gather a group of talented, happy and creative people, each one helping to stimulate the next with ideas, experience, imagination and passion. From cartoons, to films, TV and “The Happiest Place on Earth,” they connected the dots. Walt clearly felt the happy passion himself and it’s not hard to imagine that most of the people in what has become his far-flung company still do.
Even so, having adjacency of ideas and recognizing what to do with them, are two different things. Suppose that the railroads had recognized they were really in the transportation business. Wouldn’t we now have a “Union Pacific Airline”?
The process of building a company on a new idea is exhilarating, exhausting and intimidating. But if we are open to them, amazing ideas, transformative enterprises and cascading benefits can impact how we think, work and play. Boundaries and obstructions dissolve. It’s a passion for an idea that creates new companies that flourish as they apply their learning, their insights, and their energy to the search for adjacent and cascading benefits that ultimately make for happy customers. In their own way they each reflect all the marvelous enchantment of the Disney spirit.
“If you can dream it, you can do it. Remember, this whole thing started with a dream and a mouse.” – Walt Disney
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