The world lost a true Dreamer and Doer when Disney Legend Marty Sklar passed away on July 27.
I was honored and lucky to have known him in two very different stages of my life; during my career at Disney, and later as a dear friend with whom I shared the stage at public events and during book signings.
Forever etched in my memory is the quiet time we enjoyed together. Whether prepping for a presentation in a backstage greenroom, or during a private meal, Marty selfishly shared with me much wisdom about life, leadership, and creativity.
Marty’s mental library of leadership advice had no limits. After all, his mentors included UCLA legend John Wooden and, of course, Walt Disney. Marty, the former vice chairman of Walt Disney Imagineering, enjoyed a 54-year career with the company. And, he influenced each of Disney’s 12 theme parks and resorts around the world.
During one meal overlooking the Sacramento River, Marty shared with me advice from Walt Disney about nurturing creativity. “Walt was eternally curious and optimistic … he constantly challenged us to develop new ideas. Frankly, many of his ideas left us wondering, ‘how are we going to do that?’ Excuses for why we couldn’t do something were never an option, so we always approached Walt with a ‘yes if’ … never a ‘no because’.”
In closing, when describing why “it’s a small world” was his favorite attraction, Marty cited the lyrics so familiar to millions:
“there is just one moon and one golden sun and a smile means friendship to everyone”
Marty firmly believed the world would be a better place if everyone lived by the iconic lyrics and music of Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.
So do I.