Humans like their stories with a single hero regardless of the contributions of the other players

When we think of Apple we think of Steve Jobs, but if you read any bio of the company, it’s clear that Apple would just be another tech company that failed without the engineering genius of Steve Wozniak. Say “Microsoft” and people immediately think of Bill Gates; relatively few think of Steve Balmer, Gates’ right hand for many years and successor as CEO of Microsoft.

Often these unsung heroes bring technical or managerial prowess that the big name does not have or appreciate, and but for their contributions the founder’s dreams would remain just that: dreams. They clean up after their partners and often guide the success for which they often receive little credit.

I recently watched a series on the History Channel, “The Mega Brands that Built America” (watch with your kids who have an interest in businesswhich featured a six-part series on the creation of the Disney organization. How Disney Built America. Until viewing this, I had not appreciated the role that Walt’s brother, Roy Disney, played in facilitating the milestones in the Disney story:

* Keeping Snow White (the first feature length cartoon) from bankrupting the company during its production.

Merchandising of Disney characters to create new cash flows and creation of the iconic “Walt Disney Presents” TV show, a master stroke of creative strategy with the ABC Network that provided the financing of Disneyland

Driving Walt’s last big idea, Disney World, in Orlando to completion after Walt’s death in 1966.

There are some great lessons about business and partnerships in Roy Disney’s story and I hope you’ll take time for this video Roy Disney: The Quiet Brother Who Build Disney World. For a deeper dive of a remarkable life, CFO’s in particular may enjoy the authorized biography of the man: Building a Company: Roy O. Disney and the Creation of an Entertainment Empire.

If you’d like a snapshot of Roy’s contributions, check out Disney’s 1958 Business Model; It truly “all started with a mouse.” This is a great tool for a planning meeting

If you’re a CEO, I hope you have a partner or at least a second in command that serves you as well as Roy Disney served his brother Walt.

Note:  It’s impossible to leave a post about Disney on less than a happy note… so here’s 50 seconds of a real-life encounter between “Bambi and Thumper.”