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Being a Future Based Thinker

How to Accomplish Our Dreams | Saul Blinkoff

Episode #38: Saul’s uplifting story is sprinkled with tools to help us reach our own goals and fulfillment.

In this episode, he guides us through his journey to become a Disney animator and shares the steps we can take to be successful in any challenging and competitive field. 

Saul has worked as a filmmaker for Disney, DreamWorks, and Netflix. He began his career as an animator for Disney working on the hit films Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, & Tarzan. Currently, Saul is the Supervising Producer on the DreamWorks hit show Madagascar: A Little Wild on Hulu. He also hosts the inspirational weekly podcast; Life of AWESOME!

Connect with Saul:

Show Transcript:

Lupe Prado

Hi, this is Lupe Prado. I am a career and life coach, and you’re listening to Paid Vocation. In this podcast, I’ll be sharing real stories of people who are doing work they love to help you find work that you love whether that’s a new role at your current company, switching careers completely, or starting a business.

And if you’re already doing work that you love, this podcast will be a place that you can come back to feel supported and uplifted. Thank you so much for listening.

Hi, welcome to episode 38 of Paid Vocation. This week on the podcast, we are replaying one of my very favorite episodes and one of the most downloaded, my interview with Saul Blinkoff. Since the interview first aired, Saul has been so supportive. His podcast, Life of Awesome, has quickly become one of my favorites, and one that I look forward to listening to every single week.

I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to interview him, and I’m so excited to get to share it with you again. It is one of the conversations that I come back to when I need a little motivation.

I am so excited about today’s episode. On the podcast today, I am interviewing Saul Blinkoff. Saul is an Inspirational Speaker and Hollywood filmmaker for Disney, Dreamworks, and Netflix. He began his career as an animator for Disney working on the hit films: Pocahontas, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Move On, and Tarzan. He has directed films like Disney’s Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo, Kronk’s New Groove, Doc McStuffins.

For Amazon, Saul’s been a Director on The Numberlys and Consulting Producer on The Stinky & Dirty Show. For Netflix, Saul was the Director of the hit show, Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures and on Llama Llama starring Jennifer Garner. Currently, Saul is a Supervising Producer on the Dreamworks hit show, Madagascar: A Little Wild.

Saul speaks around the world sharing practical tools for success, meaning, and fulfillment in all aspects of life. He also hosts an inspirational weekly podcast, Life of Awesome. I first heard Saul speak on one of my favorite podcasts in 2017. I listened to his episode so many times. His story gave me hope and inspired me to take action.

I was so excited when he accepted my invitation to be on the podcast. During the interview, what most impressed me is how warm, genuine, and funny he is. He’s also an amazing storyteller. You’re going to be so inspired by his story and practical tools for success and fulfillment. I’m so excited for you to listen. Let’s jump in.

Saul, thank you so much for being on the podcast today.

Saul Blinkoff

Thank you so much for having me, Lupe. It’s really exciting to get to virtually meet you after hearing that you had heard a podcast episode that I was on a couple of years back for the podcast, Don’t Keep Your Day Job, which is about a dear friend of mine, Cathy Heller.

I heard that you had heard that episode and wanted me to come to share so I’m so happy to be here with you and to meet you.

Lupe Prado

Thank you so much.

Saul Blinkoff

For all the people who are listening and not seeing, you have an infectious smile.

Lupe Prado

Thank you so much. I’m so excited because I heard you on Cathy’s podcast and I loved your story. I was so inspired by it. For you to say yes to be on this podcast, I seriously couldn’t sleep that night. I was so excited, and I got to share Saul’s story. So, I’m so excited for you to be here.

I’ve been starting every podcast by asking the guests: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up?

Saul Blinkoff

That’s easy for me. What I wanted to be when I grew up as a kid was I wanted to be noticed in my family. That’s what I wanted. I have an older brother who is an incredible athlete, he’s a year and a half older. And I have a younger sister, six minutes younger actually, twin sister.

Really what I wanted to be was to be noticed in my family. I wanted to stand out. When I found out my brother couldn’t draw as well, and my sister couldn’t, I’m like, oh that’s the thing I’ll do to get my mom and dad to notice me. I would do drawings and my mom would hang my drawings on the fridge which is the greatest museum your artwork could ever be displayed.

The MoMA, the Met, the Loop, that is where I can compare my mom’s fridge. But after taking to drawing, I never really thought as a kid about what I wanted to be when I grow up. I never thought about being a grownup. As a kid, all I did was just want to continue doing what I love to do, and that was drawing. I just want that to keep going. I never knew you had to pick a career.

I’m 6 or 7 years old if I remember as early as I can go and I just love to draw and create and make things, and really have never stopped since.

Lupe Prado

That’s beautiful. How does that connect to what you do now? So for listeners who don’t know what you do now, would you please share how it connects?

Saul Blinkoff

Sure. Today, I make my living as a Supervising Producer. I’m on a Dreamworks Animated Show based on a huge Dreamworks franchise. I’ll have your guests go investigate what that show is. Take a look on my website if they want, But my career has been made as a Disney Animator. I worked on a lot of Disney movies: Pocahontas, Mulan, Tarzan, the Hunchback. I became a Director at Disney, Kronk’s New Groove, Winnie the Pooh, a couple of TV shows: Doc McStuffins, Netflix shows. I’m an animation guy.

 I’m an animation guy, I never outgrew cartoons. I just want to keep making them. But I will tell you this, going back to your first question about what I wanted to be when I grow up. The first job that I really wanted to have when I realized that you could have a job was when I was 11 years old.

I was 11 years old. I grew up in New York and I went to see the movie, E.T. When I saw the movie, E.T., I distinctly remember the credits rolling. I tapped my mom at the end of the movie, and I’m like, mom, that’s what I want to do someday, and my mom said, “What, do you want to leave planet Earth in a spaceship? And I said, no mom, I want to be a director. I want to be a filmmaker.

Now you have to remember, Lupe and for anyone listening, I didn’t grow up in LA.  I didn’t grow up in Hollywood. I didn’t know any people. I didn’t have any connections. I was just a kid like a normal kid in a movie theater watching a movie, but I remember that theme, that John Williams scored and him, flying over the moon. I remember going, I don’t know what this is but I want to be part of this world.

So the next weekend, I went and I got books on cameras and lenses and storyboarding. A lot of times I meet people and they’ll tell me, the lucky ones can tell me that they have clarity on what it is that they want to accomplish, whether it’s a career or anything in life.

Those that know what they want to do, the first thing a person needs to know is how to achieve it? There I was, 11 years old, I wanted to be a filmmaker. That’s nice. I had no idea how to do it. I went to a building that many of your younger listeners have never heard of, it’s a library. Believe it or not, people before you had a thing called Google. You had to go to a building and find that information. It will take you all day, and go to a card catalog system and some little old lady would take you and you’d sit. You couldn’t talk, and you accepted everything.

So I went to a library, I got books on cameras, lenses, and storyboarding, and I found out that this guy, Steven Spielberg, who directed E.T. used to make movies when he was a kid with the kids in the neighborhood and his sisters so, yes. I got a video camera, my brother, my sister, and I started making movies all the time.

I made murder movies, monster movies. I remember I tied my sister up to a tree very tightly in that movie. We went into the house to watch a movie. I remember my mom said, I liked the movie but where’s your sister?

I knew I was going to be a director. I always say to people that whatever it is that you figure out what you want to do, you need to find out almost like an equation, you+what=your goal. That’s called clarity. Clarity is not just knowing what you want to accomplish, but you need to know how to accomplish it.

And how do you find that out? There are so many ways. You go to the internet first. You’re not the first person to want whatever it is you want. If you go to a great restaurant and you taste an unbelievable dessert where you can make it at home if you have the recipe. That recipe is empowering.

Well, I didn’t have the recipe of knowing how to become a filmmaker until I heard Spielberg in a book go, this is what I used to do. That’s it. I’m making tons and tons of movies. I got to high school. I remember I was a junior in high school. Somebody comes up to me and they say, what are you going to do when you get out of high school? And said I want to be a director.

They said, no you don’t want to do that, because if you want to be a director, you’re going to have to move out to Hollywood, and Hollywood is filled with weirdos. They looked at me and said, you don’t want to end up a weirdo, did you? And I said, no I don’t want to end up a weirdo.

Lupe, right then and there, I gave up on my dream of wanting to be a filmmaker because one person told me that I would end up a crazy weirdo. Of course today, I do live in Hollywood and my four kids, wife, and dog would tell you that daddy is a weirdo. But it’s so interesting reflecting on this now, Lupe, of how impressionable we are.

Sometimes we get these little glimpses of potential for ourselves. Every single person has the little shoulder angel and the shoulder devil. Usually the shoulder devil, the one that says you can’t do something. You can’t accomplish something. Usually, that voice is unfortunately louder than the angel that’s telling you that you can do it. You can do it.

But we listened to the devil because the devil one tells us to don’t do any work. Don’t make any effort. It’s difficult. Why make the effort if you’re going to fail when you can just sit on your couch and watch Netflix? But that shoulder angel, sometimes, we get a glimpse of the potential. Something sparks us and we get this attraction to do something, to accomplish something, and once we get that, we need to know how to accomplish it. How do we do it?

Once we find out how that’s the recipe to accomplish, we gotta keep going. So for me, I was so impressionable in high school that the shoulder devil was anyone that discouraged me. I think that’s something that everyone has to take a moment to think about. Think about the people in our lives. I was thinking of it like if you cut a tree, cross-section, you think of the rings of a tree for a moment.

You think about the people in your orbit. Let’s go far out for a second. How many friends does a person have on Facebook? Maybe you got 4,000 “friends” on Facebook. He got your Instagram followers, whatever it is. But if any of those people who you’re friends with on Facebook, and I guarantee that every single person listening here has someone who’s friends with them on Facebook that they never even knew they were friends with.

Then if the person was walking next to you in a supermarket, you have no idea where they were. They told you, I’m your friend on Facebook, you would say, I have no idea. You pretend that you know but, inside, who the heck is this? But if you think about one of those people that’s on the outer ring for a moment, Lupe.

If one of those people comes up to you and says, I think that you really should be approaching this in your life like this. I don’t think you should be like this, or you should be more humble, or you should get, and you’d say, I don’t even know you. The closer we get to the rings of the tree to the center, the more we have people that we ultimately trust.

Now, let’s take those circles and go in and in and in. Hopefully, each one of us has a couple of people, two or three, who are right in that inner circle, and out of those two or three, how many of those two or three people can actually tell us the truth about ourselves? When we need to grow, what we need to work on? Because even out of those three people, I guarantee you, out of your three closest friends probably two of them are always there and they make you feel good by patting you on the back and telling you that everything you do is wonderful. But you know what a real friend is?

A real friend is someone that gives you a perspective of yourself that you don’t have because all of us only have our own perspective of ourselves. We look in the mirror, we see not just what we want to be and who we want to be, we see our faults, but we don’t share those with the world. But someone that loves you, they see those faults because the world tells you that love is blind. That’s not true.

Love is a magnifying glass. When you love something, you know the details of it. I can tell you for each of my kids, I know all their strengths, I know all their weaknesses. I know all their strengths just like they know mine, just like my wife knows mine, the real me. And love is to choose to identify and appreciate those positive attributes of a person.

A real friend is someone that’s going to encourage us by helping us know where it is we need to grow. If you take those inner circles of the tree, like we were just talking about, hopefully, each one of us in our lives. And if we have what I’m about to say, if you or one of your listeners has what I’m about to say, you’re the luckiest person in the world.

Hopefully, you have one person in your life that you can be vulnerable to. That you can trust, that they can say anything to you, good or bad because you know it’s coming from a loving place. And if you have that one person that can say something and encourage you, you’re a king, you’re a queen. We’re so impressionable in our life because we let other people who we don’t maybe have a relationship with, dictate how we feel about ourselves. And that is a key point.

I tell this to high school kids all the time, don’t ever let anyone tell you how to feel about yourself. Don’t define yourself by how others think of you. Don’t let others define how you feel about yourself. That’s really it. Don’t let others define how you feel about yourself.

I was so impressionable at that point in my career, someone said I would end up crazy weird. I gave up on wanting to be a director. But I loved it, and it didn’t matter. Someone made me feel like that I couldn’t do it, that I’d ended up strange or weird. So I went back to drawing, Lupe.

I started drawing a lot. My parents are incredibly supportive parents, and they got an art teacher to come to our house and she would teach me to draw from life. Drawing plans and bowls of fruit with pastels and pencils and watercolor, you name it. I was going to be an artist back when I was a little kid.

And then I went to the movies again. It’s amazing how you see a movie at a certain time in your life and it just speaks to you like the Hangover.

I saw this movie and it has a big, big impact on me. I saw the movie, The Little Mermaid. Those of you who are listening, who are in the Frozen camp, now I’ve outdated myself.

I meet kids a lot and like, oh, you work at Disney? Yeah. Cool. Did you work on Frozen? I’m like: No, I worked on Pocahontas. Then they like it, I never heard of it. That’s okay.

Anyway, so there I was. I saw The Little Mermaid. I’m watching the movie and I’m watching this incredible animation by Disney Animator, Glen Keane. He is the animator who designed Ariel. He also won an Oscar for directing the Kobe Bryant, Dear Basketball a couple of years back. He is an amazing guy, and I can tell you more about Glen later and what made him incredible. I got to meet him later in life and he was one of my first mentors. But what was so impactful for me about The Little Mermaid was seeing Glen’s animation of Ariel.

She can’t speak for half the movie so he made her eyes so big and expressive. If you look at expressions of her and her poses, it just really spoke to me. As it did many people in the role. Everyone loved that movie because this character was just so engaging. When she sings Part of your World, and if you look at the poses where she puts her hands up to her chest, and her eyes are closed and she’s singing. It’s not about a mermaid who wants to just go walk around, it’s about all of us.

We can all relate to her because we all want to live in a part of a different world. We all want more, and when you see this headstrong teenager who has a fire in her, she actually says the word “burn.” She goes, what’s a fire and why does it burn? But watch the poses that Glen put in there. Intellectually, when you hear that line you go, what’s a fire and why does it burn? That sounds scientific.

That’s interesting. It burns because it’s oxygen, there’s a question or whatever. But no, no, no, where she says “burn” her hands go to her chest and she closes her eyes like I was saying, and she has a pose. A burn meaning she’s got a fire in her. That’s burning. Incredible and amazing.

You don’t even think about it. The next time you’re watching you’ll see. So I saw Glen Keane’s animation and that’s it. I, a hundred percent know what I want to do. I’m a junior in high school and Saul’s dream is to become a Disney Animator.

I was clear, it was black and white for me. This is my dream. I want to do this. And I found out that Disney has a studio in Orlando, Florida so I don’t have to go out to Hollywood. So I get out of the cold of New York, the bitter cold, and go out and live in Disney World, what a dream that would be?

Disney World is known as the happiest place on earth. I don’t know if you know that, that’s their marketing line here. Who doesn’t love it, right? By the way, I remember thinking who lives in Disney World? Disney World is a vacation place, you don’t live there. Imagine getting an apartment and a car, driving to work at Disney World every day. How could I want anything but that?

So there I was, and I knew what I wanted to do but I had no idea how to do it. Like I was saying earlier, you always need to find out the “how?” After you have the “what” and goal, we need to find out the “how.” In order to find out the “how”, my mom took me on a trip to Disney World, and I was walking around Disney World and we’re going over to Disney Employees, and she’s saying, my son wants to be an Animator. How does he get a job here?

It was actually very embarrassing, I remember because we’re getting into It’s A Small World-boat ride, and we’re getting on and the lady said, “Excuse me, how many are you in your party?  I’m like, two. We’re stepping on the boat and my mom’s like, my son wants to be a Disney Animator. The lady’s like, ma’am, this is a boat ride.

So we get on the boat, and we get off the boat and the woman says to my mom: Look, if you want your son to work at Disney, you have to go to the Disney Casting Building. It’s four minutes away from where we were in Disney World. My mom drives me to this building and imagines what a Disney Office building even looks like. It was beautiful.

It had these bronze door knobs that were shaped like the ones that talk from Alice in Wonderland if you remember. I opened up the doors in Disney World, Disney Office building, and I walk into an atrium and there are gold statuettes of Mickey, Donald, Pluto, Goofy, even the air in the atrium was like Disney air, like that pixie dust in the air, whatever they did do it.

And there was this huge ramp, it’s incredible. I’m reflecting on this now, and I remember walking up this huge ramp, like a 50-foot ramp. It’s amazing that they had a ramp going up because you’re really ascending to the interview. You’re walking up, it’s intimidating. Walking down means I was already in a high place, I’m coming down to you.

But when you’re walking up to something, you feel how low you are and there’s a certain gravitas to it, a Regal mist to it. As I’m walking up this ramp, on the ceiling is painted Peter Pan and Wendy and all the characters. On the left is a painting of Walt Disney holding a sketchbook.

I will never forget feeling intimidated, who do I think I am to walk up this ramp and think I’m going to work at Disney? So I go there for the interview and the lady says, what are you doing here? And I’d like to work at Disney as an Animator. And she says we don’t hire those here.

Who did you hire? Because we hire people that work the rides like the Dumbo ride. That’s not really what I mean. So she goes hold on a sec. Lupe walks out of the office, comes back in a minute later, and hands me a piece of paper. That piece of paper became the most valuable piece of paper I have ever held in my hands, other than my wedding contract if in case my wife’s listening. Don’t worry, honey.

That piece of paper that she handed me was a list of eight schools. Eight Art Schools that Disney recruits their artists from. She says, if you want to work at Disney, you got to go to one of these schools. See, that was the equation I was talking about.

Now, I have an answer. Saul plus going to one of these schools will equal dream of becoming a Disney Animator. Thank God that my mom who’s incredibly supportive takes me on a trip to each of these Art Schools to see which would be a good fit for her son. Getting to Art School, this is before Pixar existed, before Dreamworks.

This is when, if you wanted a job at Disney, if you wanted a job in animation it was Disney. That was the pinnacle, and I got to this school in Columbus, Ohio. It’s called CCAD- Columbus College of Art and Design. Credible school, credible design school. Anyone that went to that school, especially in the late ’90s saw incredible discipline in that school.

Anyone who went to that school went through hell and came out the other side a much better artist, an incredible place. But I remember, the first day I was walking around and going into the different rooms and seeing my roommate and stuff, and I looked down the hall and there’s this guy’s room. In the guy’s room, he’s got Mickey Mouse slippers.

I can see them, those big yellow feet. What kind of college guy was

 wearing Mickey Mouse slippers? No offense to defending your listeners. If you’re wearing Mickey Mouse slippers, I’m not judging. And then I looked further and this guy has a Mickey Mouse bedspread. He has the Mickey Mouse telephone, the Mickey Mouse lunchbox, every Disney movie poster on the walls. It was literally Disney World in a room.

Now the guy’s not in the room, and I see in the corner he’s got sketchbooks and I’m thinking: Let’s see how good he is as an artist. So I go over to the sketchbooks and I open it up, flipping through and he’s got like 50 drawings of Mickey Mouse. All it is is Mickey. He’s drawn Mickey Mouse playing baseball, and like a scary Mickey and a sad Mickey.

And I had never drawn Mickey Mouse before in my life. I was literally intimidated because I was drawing bowls of fruit from my art teacher. A minute later, the guy whose room is, walks in. I’m busted. He looks at me and he goes, how are you doing? I’m like, good, what’s your name? He goes, my name’s Jason but people call me Mickey Mouse Jason.

They call you what? He goes Mickey Mouse. I’m like, you have a Disney nickname? He was like, you too? I’m like, no I don’t. I go back to my room. I give them a bowl of my mom, and I’m like, mom if I’m going to fit into Art School, you better send me some Mickey Mouse slippers soon. You got to remember, Lupe, everybody wanted to work at Disney.

I can tell you, one week later, one of the most monumental moments in my life occurred. They actually had a representative from the Walt Disney Company come to our school. His name is Bill Matthews. He was one of the original animators on Sleeping Beauty in 1950. This guy had a big white beard, stood on the stage in the auditorium and it was like, it wasn’t a mandatory meeting. It was like anybody who’s interested in Disney came to the auditorium for a presentation from Bill Matthews, Walt Disney Studios.

They posted these flyers all around the school in different rooms and things, and when they posted the flyers, I went and took them all off the walls because I didn’t want anyone else to go. I still have these flyers.

Lupe Prado

No way, and how cool that you would have a Disney person come to your school specifically?

Saul Blinkoff

Yes, because it was one of those Disney feeder schools.

Lupe Prado

Did you keep the papers?

Saul Blinkoff

I kept it. I’ve just shown them to my kids a couple of weeks ago. I ripped them all because I wanted to be the only kid in the auditorium. You’ve got to kill the competition. Get rid of the competition. So anyway, I was not the only one there. There were 750 students in the auditorium. It was packed [words]. Literally, every freshman, sophomore, junior and senior, and the guy from Disney’s on stage and looks out to us. He says, he goes before I start, how many of you want to work at Disney?

Every single hand went up. I’m getting goosebumps now because I remember the feeling, and he says, just so you know, out of the 750 of you in this room, maybe just four of you will ever work there. That’s how competitive it is. And when he said that, I thought one thing, I wonder who the other three are going to be. Because in life we either believe in ourselves that we can accomplish something or we don’t.

I mean really believe in ourselves. Forget about what we portray to the world on Facebook and social media where we tell everybody all the things that we want to do deep down. We have a light switch, it’s either on or it’s off. You believe in yourself or you don’t. At that point in my life, Lupe, I totally believed in myself. I was like, I’m going to kill the competition. I’m going to work harder than anybody.

And then the guy from Disney says onstage if you want to get into Disney, you got to get the internship. The Disney internship is what you need, and if you want the internship, you need a portfolio, 25 pages of figure drawing anatomy.

He says we want to see all the drawings of humans. And from life, humans, and animals, no drawings of cartoon characters, and especially he said, no drawings of Mickey Mouse. I was like, oh yes. You can see Mickey Mouse Jason slouching. But the equation I spoke about earlier was building. First, it was Saul plus what will, an equal dream of becoming a Disney Animator. Saul plus go to this school, check. Now, I know I need a portfolio, 25 pages of figure drawing anatomy.

So instead of signing up for one figure drawing class, like everybody else did because that’s the requirement for the school. I signed up for four, but I went to eight. Eight classes because let me tell you, anytime there was a figure drawing class going on and I was free, I was in that class. I would go to the teacher and say, can I sit in? They’d say, sure.

Because you have a live model in front of you for four hours, you better bring your sketchbook there and draw.  I would draw constantly. As a  matter of fact, I remember I met this guy, Andy, who was an incredible, incredible artist. You look up his work, he’s a book illustrator. He’s worked at Disney and Sony. His name is Andy Harkness, H-A-R-K-N-E-S-S. One of the most talented artists I’ve ever met in my life but also had one of the greatest work ethics.

Just being friends with a guy like that made me a better artist. It gave me the discipline that I needed, and it gave me a lot of inspiration. I remember I used to walk around Columbus, Ohio. It was beautiful at night. It was lit up. We’d go by the water, and there was this giant pirate ship like the historic ship that was by the dock there. It was all lit up at night, and we were just talking about our families, and we would just draw. We’d look at the lighting and we would talk about how we’re seeing the lighting when we’re drawing this and that.

We play basketball sometimes, when we weren’t playing we would draw the guys playing basketball. It’s really important to find friends and to surround ourselves with people who can elevate us. Because of who you choose to be friends with, you’re actually choosing who you want to become.

That’s amazing. If any parents are listening, as you become a parent or you’re a parent, you want your kids to hang out with kids that are going to bring the best out of them because the opposite, it’s a disaster. Some of the kids could influence your kid for the worst. What about us? Who’s influencing us? Who are the people that we surround ourselves with?

I think it’s a good thing for all listeners to do is take a moment and make a list of the 10 people you’re closest to within your life, and ask yourself, is this a person that really builds me up? Is this a person that can help me grow, like what I was speaking about earlier about friendship? What Andy was that for me in a very big way, and not only was he a great artist, I just want to make sure your listeners know. It’s not that he was a great artist. He has nothing to do with what he could do with a pencil. It was his attitude.

It was the respect he had for growing and learning as an artist. It was the discipline and it was also because he had a great heart, a love of art and drawing. He taught me about different painters in N. C. Wyeth, he had a big influence on me. N. C. Wyeth, an incredible illustrator.

I was just really lucky.  Andy and I became best friends, and we used to draw all the time and go to the zoo together. I remember sophomore year coming and I said: Andy, I want to take my portfolio and send it to Disney. He’s like, you’re a sophomore. They want you to be a senior. You’re not ready. I’m like, I just want to try. So I take my best drawings and we get a black leather portfolio case and send it to the Disney Studios. A couple of months go by and I get a letter. This is before the email.

I got a letter in the mail. It has my name typed on an envelope, and the top left of the envelope is a gold leaf Mickey Mouse and it says the Walt Disney Company. To get a letter from Walt Disney himself, and they open up that letter and it says, Saul, thanks for sending your portfolio in but unfortunately, you didn’t make it.

I wasn’t discouraged. I didn’t really expect to get in. I just wanted to go through the process. I remember actually being happy that the Disney Company knew that it was alive. I took that letter, I put it up over my desk and that it would inspire me.

Another year goes by, and Andy and I are inseparable, drawing all the time, going to the zoo. I remember going to the zoo and it was freezing cold. Freezing, freezing cold and there were a lot of kids in the zoo and we were all hanging out in the cafe having hot chocolate. I just actually mentioned this on one of my podcast episodes.

I remember it was so cold, Andy and I went out in the cold. We’re freezing, we’re drawing an elephant, and the elephant basically at a zoo will just walk back and forth. They’re not really doing much of anything, and this elephant was literally walking back and forth. It was the greatest thing for an artist because I’m trying to learn animal anatomy. So when you see an animal repeating its action over and over again, it’s incredible for movement because animation is movement, and I’m studying this and looking at how the trunk moves and the overlap of the tail and the ears, how it flops. It’s so cool.

Andy and I are drawing and we’re noticing there are none of the other kids next to us from our class. All the ones that wanted to work at Disney. Do you know where they were? They were in the cafe having the hot chocolate. If you went over to any of them and said, how come you’re not out there drawing elephants? I probably would have told you, I can’t go out there. Why not? Because it’s too cold. It’s cold, you mean it’s hard. Yes, it’s hard.

You see, whatever goal we want, we all need to have the expectations that it’s going to be incredibly difficult. Let me tell you what I mean by difficult. I mean painful, it’s painful. Do you know what we want to do? We want to stay in bed every day. We are a body and a soul. The body wants to eat and sleep, but the soul who we really are, once the fire up and gets going and changes the world. We want to change the world and make an impact, but it takes work.

The more difficult things are, that little shoulder devil tells us? You can’t do it. You can’t do it, stay in bed. It’d be much easier to stay in bed when, if you also think about it, most people work for a whole week just to get to the weekend. I work all week, then I can have what I’m working for. Do you know what I’m working for? Nothing.

I’m working so I can do nothing. Instead, approach the weekend differently, approach the weekend so I could rest, so I can go back to the real work. The workweek is not a means to the end of a relaxing weekend. A relaxing weekend is the means to an end of “I want to go back to work and change the world” which is going to take a lot of work.

So these students, we’re going to stay inside the cafe. I’m not going to go out there and draw. And was it cold? Yes, it’s freezing. But when Disney says to you, draw animals, you draw animals. So I get my portfolio, so does Andy. We sent it to the Disney Studios and we waited, and went home. It was Christmas break, I think Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast had just come out.

Incredible. When Beauty of the Beast came out, I remember seeing a double feature Beauty and the Beast and Father of the Bride, so cool to see those movies together. There you go, I just dated myself, and I got a call. It was Andy on the phone. I was home in New York. I’m like: Andy, what’s up? He’s like, Blinkoff, did you hear? I’m like, no, did you? He’s like, yes. I’m like, what’d you hear? He goes, I got the internship, and I said, what? Did you get it? It’s amazing. He said, but you didn’t hear?

I said, no but they could be trying to call me right now. I got to hang up. We didn’t have a call waiting back then, so I hung up the phone. I’m pacing in my dining room, back and forth. My mom came in, my dad said, honey, what happened? I’m like, Andy got into Disney. She’s pacing back and forth, and they’re not calling.

As I tell you this story, I really bring myself back to that moment. I still can feel the shock when he told me that he got it. It’s like winning the lottery. We ate, slept, and drank this dream, and he basically called me and said, my dream came true. I was moments away from getting that call and I couldn’t stand it anymore. So you know what I did? I picked up the phone and I called the Head of Disney myself. I did that. You know why? Because when there’s something you want in your life, you will do anything to get it.

Anybody listening right now, if you’re driving in your car or you’re at home, pull the car over and take out your phone and write down this sentence, and write on a piece of paper and put it up over your bed or your desk and frame it. Here’s the sentence, “When there’s something you want, you will do anything to get it.” If there’s something you really want badly enough, you will do anything, underline the word “anything” to get it. There’s no such thing as “can’t.”

Did you know what I did? I call the Head of Disney. I got this guy on the phone. He said, hey Saul, how are you? Good. I’m calling to find out about the internship. He goes, yes you didn’t get it. I was like, what? And he’s like, yes you didn’t get it. I’m like, what about Andy? He’s like, yes he got it. You didn’t get it.

That was a very bittersweet moment for me. Sweet, I was happy that my best friend was getting his dream but bitter, I wasn’t going to be part of it. I hang up the phone. I’m in New York, it’s cold. Andy’s going back to Disney World which is the happiest place on earth, sunny. I’m going to Columbus, Ohio in the wintertime. Gray, bitter skies. That’s the most depressing place on earth.

And when I get back to school, I’m walking the halls of the school completely embarrassed because everyone’s coming up to me saying, Blinkoff, where’s Andy? He got it, and you didn’t get it. How come you didn’t make it? They felt sorry for me. I literally became known as the guy that was friends with the guy that got into Disney. I became known as the guy who didn’t get what he really, really wanted, and I felt like a failure. And then I came up with the most brilliant way to take that away.

One of the things that I hope I can offer your listeners is tools. A tool that they can apply to their life. So I came up with the greatest tool ever to take away the feeling of being a failure. Do you know what I did? I gave up. I gave up on the entire dream because the reality setting and the reality is the shoulder devil, that Andy was an awesome artist and I’m just average. I’m just Saul.

We all know what it’s like to want something great, and we see people that do great things and we have that voice because they’re great, I’m just me. All of us go through it. It’s amazing, I heard Oprah Winfrey say incredible things. Oprah Winfrey said I think it was an address she gave to a University. She goes, I’ve interviewed thousands and thousands and thousands of people for 35 years. Nobody’s interviewed more people than Oprah and she goes, out of everyone I’ve interviewed 99.9% of them are famous wealthy people. People like Barack Obama and Tom Cruise, and you name the celebrity.

And she said, every single time I’ve interviewed everyone, whenever the camera gets turned off and we’re done, they all look at me and ask me the exact same question. Was that okay? Did I do alright? President Barack Obama, one of the greatest orators that ever lived and you’re asking, was that okay?

Because each one of us has a little part of us that tells us, I’m not perfect and that’s a good thing. That’s called humility. That means there’s always room to grow. I feel bad for the person that goes: Hey, you’re lucky you got that from me. I’m out of here. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t good, and I’m out.

So we all have that little fire in us, that question of, am I good enough? Reality set in, and I realized I wasn’t good enough and I’m really wanting something that’s out of my reach. I gave up on my dream. I gave up on the whole thing.

The story doesn’t end there. A week later, a buddy of mine got tickets to go see a movie and they were free tickets so I went with him to the movie. I’m watching a movie, and again as I mentioned, sometimes you see a movie and it speaks to you for what you’re going through. I’m watching a movie that at the end of the movie tears are streaming down my face. I’m crying. The movie is a true story about a guy that’s five feet tall. He doesn’t have an ounce of athletic ability and he wants to play football at Notre Dame.

I wonder how many of your listeners have ever heard of the movie, Rudy? Have you heard of this movie, Lupe?

Lupe Prado

Yes. I love that movie, I do. Yes, for sure. It’s a classic.

It’s beautiful.

Saul Blinkoff

Beautiful movie, right? It’s actually interesting, about a year and a half ago, I got to meet the real Rudy Ruettiger. It’s so cool. I was giving a talk and I gave this talk, it was an eight-minute talk in front of an organization. I’m getting off the stage and the emcee goes, Saul, we have a surprise for you, and Rudy Ruettiger comes up. There’s a video of it. You could see it on my, I have YouTube channel.

Lupe Prado

Okay. I’ll check it out.

Saul Blinkoff

It’s just family videos and stuff, and me and my wife and kids. The channel is theblinkhouse, and there’s a video somewhere in there, Saul meets Rudy. You’ll see him come out on stage, and I couldn’t believe I was meeting the real guy. Amazing. But anyway, I digress. So I’m watching this movie, and it’s a true story about a guy who’s five feet tall. He’s not an athlete, and he wants to play football at Notre Dame.

Now, if you were friends with Rudy Ruettiger and he told you his dream was to play football at Notre Dame, you know what you would have told him as his friend, you would have been, dude, I love you. Get a new dream, and look in the mirror yet? You’re five feet tall, football players are twice the size of you. He wasn’t even athletic. He wasn’t even smart enough to get into Notre Dame. And you know what Rudy said? Oh yes, we’ll just see about that.

He tries to get in and what happens? Rejected. Tries a second time, rejected. The third time, rejected. But the fourth time, you look at the movie poster for the movie Rudy, and it says, when people tell you dreams don’t come true, tell them about Rudy. He gets in.

And I’m watching the movie and tears are streaming down my face because I think to myself if an unathletic guy with a lot of heart and hard work and passion could get into Notre Dame, and an untalented artist with a lot of heart and hard work could get into Disney.

I decided right then and there, I would never give up again, but I had to make a change, and get on the phone the next day. I called up Disney. Called up the same guy, crazy. I get them on the phone, and I’m like, can I ask you a question? How many interns did you pick on Andy’s internship? He was like 17.

Did I say, how close was I? He does solve, you made it to number 20. I’m like, I missed it by three and I had given up. Do you know how many times in our life we could be so close to achieving something and we feel we are miles away, and all we needed to do was just persevere, attach more.

Thomas Edison invents the light bulb a hundredth million times, whatever. But if he stopped on the time right before that final one, you know this filament, it’s not going to work. Who would actually think I could create light? Do you know who creates light? God. It says it in the Bible, and who do you think I am? With that little angel said, Thom, try one more time, please.

Thank God he did, or iPhones won’t even work. All the technology we have today because Thomas Edison was like, I can try this. I can do this. Well.

Lupe Prado

And that you were brave enough to ask for the feedback. A lot of times we’re scared to ask because we don’t want to know the answer so we’d rather not ask. We’d rather not ask what we’re doing wrong. 

It took a lot of courage.

Saul Blinkoff

Not only do we have the courage to ask, but we must want to ask because only when you find out the answers, do you learn how you have to grow? I asked the guy on the phone. I said, let me ask you a question, if I missed it by three, why did you not accept me? Tell me why. Every single person knows what it’s like to be rejected in some way, whether it’s a relationship or with work or anything. If you can find out the answer to why you were rejected, that is the answer key to growing, period.

Michael Jordan. I’m a big Michael Jordan fan. He’s in the NBA the first year, and some critic comes up and says, Michael, your defense isn’t so good. Michael’s like, thank you so much for telling me. He worked harder on defense. Next year in the NBA, one player was named Defensive Player of the Year, Number 23, Michael Jordan. Because not only should we be open to hearing what our flaws are, we should be craving the answers to them.

If Steve Jobs were alive and he just finished me, I guarantee when he finished making the first iPhone, he probably went over to his people and said, congratulations we did a good job. Come back tomorrow and tell me how to make it better. We’ve got to be hungry for that. It’s the only way to grow, that’s the answer key. Find out what our flaws are and turn them into strengths.

So the guy at Disney is like, here’s what you need in your portfolio. You need more perspectives. Don’t just draw the figure drawing model for where you’re sitting in class, stand up on a stool or look up at them and give me a dynamic perspective. That was the answer key to growing.

Lupe Prado

If people struggle with this, I know I’ve struggled in the past with asking for that feedback. How do you not take it personally so that you don’t think you asked for it, and then, you don’t let that sting of like, dang, that’s what I did wrong, to keep you down? Because hearing you say that it’s amazing because you were so determined. You knew you were going to keep trying, but I can imagine a lot of things.

First of all, I think it’s a character trait that we all have to develop and work at. Just because I did it that time of my life doesn’t mean that I’m doing it all the time. It’s probably what we should be doing all the time. You want to be successful in everything in life. We want to be successful in relationships and marriage, raising kids, anything. If my wife can’t tell me when I’m screwing up then how am I going to have a good marriage? There’s no way to have a good marriage.

I have to be willing, not just willing to hear what she says, but to ask her, tell me how I can grow. We have to keep our egos in check. I’m on a job right now at Dreamworks, and I have told every single person that I hired the same thing. There are no egos in this work environment. Keep your ego at the door. There are no egos.

I say to people all the time that I’m one of the leadership roles. I’m a Supervising Producer on the show. I have a lot of people that work underneath me and many of them could be intimidated. Do you supervise the group? I’m like, no there’s no ego. We’re all the same. Self-respect and respecting each other and appreciating each other, that’s of paramount importance, so you can say anything to me.

Once you clear the space that they can say anything to you, now you can talk about the work. Now you can make something great because if you just want to feel good about yourself and surround yourself with people that pat you on the back, you’re never going to grow.

When Disney is able to give that kind of feedback, I’ve had students come up to me before. I had this one high school girl, I’ll never forget. Incredible portfolio. I was speaking at some convention somewhere, it was 10 years ago. She takes out this black leather portfolio case, and she’s got a drawing she did with a sneaker that she spent like 20 hours on. All her friends came around and she opened up that portfolio and they were like, oh my gosh, you’re so good. How do you do it, you’re so good.

She’s sitting back, she’s proud. She’s like, I won an award for this and my parents love this, or my parents love that one. She goes, do you have any advice for me? And I said, let me ask you this, why do you want to hear my advice? She goes because I want to know what you think. I said, okay, I’ll tell you one thing. The only reason I’m going to share this with you is that I want to give you something to help you become a better artist. That’s it. Are you sure you’re okay? And she said, yes I’m good.

Here’s what you can do. Number one, anytime your friends tell you that they like your art or your parents tell you that they like your art, you’re going to be really polite. You’re going to say thank you so much. And in your head, you know what you’re going to think? They know nothing about art. And where do you live? She lived in New York. I said, there’s a school near you, like 20 minutes away called the School of Visual Arts, SVA.

Saul Blinkoff

 Are you in a hurry? she said, yes. I said you’re going to do this, this Monday? You’re going to take off school wherever you are, you’re going to get in your car, you’re going to drive to SVA, and you’re going to stand outside and ask everyone: Who’s the Dean of Illustration? And you’re going to find out where they parked their car and you’re going to stand in front of their door, and once he or she comes to their door, you’re going to say to them, I’m not leaving your car unless you tell me three things I can do to become a better artist. Not only should we be open to learning how to grow, but that is also the craving we should have in every relationship in life.

Disney tells me this is what you need to work on, so I go back to figure drawing class and I’m doing a more dynamic pose. I remember standing on stools and things, and there were some kids in the back of the room. They’re like, look at the dorks standing up on the stool. I don’t care what they said, the Disney guy tells me what I need to do to work on. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I get my portfolios together and I’m about to send it in and Bill Matthews.

Remember the guy I told you with the white beard? He’s come to our school, there’s a new system. Beauty and the Beast was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Now they tell us that they’re not going to let us just send portfolios in anymore, we have to show them to the Disney rep at our school. If he likes whoever he likes, he’ll then send it to Disney for further review. So they call my name first, it’s alphabetical.

So Bill Matthews is sitting there and they call many of us, I go in and he takes my portfolio and he’s looking at it. This is a guy that animated Sleeping Beauty, and I’m freaking out. He goes through my portfolio and he goes, Saul, my boy. I like your drawing. I’d like to send these to Florida for further review, would you like that?

Who wouldn’t like that? I said yes I would like that, and I handed him my portfolio. As I handed it to him, I’m in a tug of war with him. I don’t let go, and I yank it out of his hand. He’s like, Saul, my boy, what are you doing? I said, just one question, where are you taking this portfolio next? When are you actually going to be in Florida?

He said I’m going to other art schools. I’m like, so when do you actually need it in Florida? He’s like, not for two weeks, why? I’m like, can I have this portfolio and work on it more? He said, but I told you that it’s great. I’m going to bring it with me. And then two more weeks, I can do better work.

Because any drawing that I do tomorrow will be better than any drawing that’s in this book. Not only should we ask someone for advice when we fail, but even when we succeed and before I walked out of the room, I said to him: Bill, you liked my work. He told me exactly what I wanted to hear. He told me he likes my work. That’s my dream, but I know I’m not perfect. So I said to him, Bill, any ideas what I can do to make my portfolio better? He’s like, yes sure, you can work on effects. I’m like, what’s that?

Effects are animators that draw rain, fire, water, smokes that you should put some of that in your portfolio. Now I had no dreams to become an Effects Animator at Disney, but when Bill Matthews tells you to work on effects, you do effects. So I go back to my dorm room and I take that portfolio. Again, I want your listeners to hear, not just when you failed do you ask why, even when you succeed, ask how to even be better. Always be looking to grow.

I remember taking that portfolio and I opened it up and I’m like, I have a better idea. I’m not just going to give Bill Matthews drawings of effects, I’m going to do something else because if I just give him pages of effects, he’d get the portfolio in two weeks in Florida. He’ll look at it and say, Saul, I remember him from Ohio. I remember this drawing. I remember that drawing, and there are the effects just like I said.

And you know why I didn’t want that to happen? Because that’s what he was expecting. Instead, I took the portfolio which I’d worked so hard on. I put it under my bed and I said, it doesn’t exist. Can I actually create a brand new portfolio in two weeks of 300 new drawings in two weeks? That is exactly what I did.

I created an entirely new portfolio because what I wanted to happen is when Bill gets that portfolio, opens it up, and goes, Saul, I remember him from Ohio. Wait a minute, I never saw that drawing. He did a whole new portfolio because then when he looks at my work, he’s not just judging my work, now he knows something about me. He knows that this guy is so hungry to be great and to work harder.

I heard a beautiful quote once, I don’t remember where I heard it. It was, “Always exceed expectations.” Just write those two words down if you’re listening. Exceed and exceed expectations, you know what it means? Do more.

Somebody wants you there at eight o’clock, you get there at 7:50. Once you’ve accomplished ten problems, you do eleven. Always exceed expectations, and that goes for everything in life. Not just career, not just for working and your employers, it goes for relationships, marriage. My wife could be like, can you go and pick up something at the supermarket for me? Sure.

As I’m driving home, I think I stopped with the dry cleaners because I know she was going to do it. She might not have, I’m going to do that. I walk up the stairs.

Lupe Prado:

I thought you were going to say flowers, but dry cleaners. That’s much better.

Saul Blinkoff

Flowers are good too. But the dry cleaners exceed expectations. Always exceeding expectations. Tilt those drawings. I put it in a portfolio. I sent it to Disney and a month later, I got a call and it’s Andy on the phone. I said, hey man, what’s up? He’s like, Blinkoff you’re not going to believe this. I’m like, what am I not going to believe? He’s like, they built a brand new part of the studio for the next interns. I’m like, wow! He gets beautifully because you deserve to be there. I’m like, thanks, man.

He goes, but guess what else? I replied, what? He goes, they put up a piece of paper with a list of the next interns. And he goes, you’re on the list. You did it.

Amazing! I go over my tape player, and I play at the top of my lungs. People coming outside of the dorm rooms are like, Blinkoff, you got it. I couldn’t believe it. Now, I was going to finally have my place at Disney World, the happiest place on Earth. I show up at Disney a couple of weeks later at the airport, and there’s a guy there with a Mickey Mouse printed on a sign with my name on it to pick me up. He takes me to the Walt Disney Studios. It isn’t as a tour, and I walk to this building, and there’s a sign above it. I still have pictures of it, and it says “Artists’ Entrance.” And I walk in, I get into a room. It’s not a very big room, and there are about 15 or 17 giant wooden animation desks. This is before computer animation, before Pixar.

It’s hand-drawn animation. I go to each of these desks, I’m looking there in the corner, there’s a desk with my name on it, Saul Blinkoff. An eleven-year-old kid who saw E.T., a six-year-old boy who loved to draw, and there I was. Nameplate, I was supposed to be at Disney World.

I want all of your listeners to hear the one really important point. When this podcast ends, I don’t want you to think that you heard from a talented Disney Artist who achieved his dream. I want you to understand that you heard someone who achieved his dream who was not talented.

I literally was the worst artist in my school when I got there, but I can assure you, nobody outworked me. When you have that voice inside you that tells you that you can’t accomplish something great, don’t give into it. Don’t listen to it. I’m an example of that. I was just a normal guy that had a big dream and never gave up.

I can tell you, and this is so true that even when I got to Disney, I was the worst artist again. There are always going to be new struggles, I want to become an Animator and a Director.  There’s always work to be done to get better, and it’s a good thing to humble ourselves, to ground ourselves, to know where we really are with our strengths and weaknesses.

At the end of the day to have one goal, all I want to do is grow. Just want to grow and get better. Because at the end of the day, my kids, they are going to, not to be morbid or dark with my kids but they’re going to lose their dad someday. No one lives forever. I don’t want them to say, I’m so proud of my dad, he worked hard. He became a Disney Animator.

Okay, so I got my name in some Disney movies, a big deal. At the end of the day, you know what I want them to know? My dad was the kind of guy that put a hundred percent into every part of his life, not just working for Disney, but being a better father, being a more patient dad, being a better husband.

Think about how many people are successful in their careers, but they’re not such great people. Our careers are one facet of our diamond. Diamond is beautiful and bright because it has many facets. A career is just one of them. Michael Jordan’s facet for basketball, it’s impressive. But basketball will only ever be for him at one facet. It says nothing about the kind of father, husband, personally, I’m not judging him. I don’t know what kind of father he is. All I’m saying is be careful to think that life is all about a career. Life is really about waking up and saying I have the career of my dreams and it makes me happy.

It’s about waking up every day and feeling like I’m doing something that’s meaningful, that I’m able to take responsibility to impact the world and ultimately to grow as a human being because that at the end of the day is the greatest battle of our lives. I can tell you that whatever work I did to become an animator and a director is nothing compared to the amount of work it takes to work on our own character flaws to literally grow as human beings.

So you asked me what I want to be when I grow up? I just want to be a better version of myself. Just to be better. There’s a great rabbi once heard from, he said, we’re not human beings, we’re human becomings. Not human beings, we’re human becomings. We all want to grow. Think of a flower, the most beautiful flower. It’s growing an orchid.

What happens when it reaches that pinnacle? What’s next? It dies. We all think I’m going to work so hard and aspire to become something and that’s it. No, because as soon as you get that, it’s never going to be enough. All we have to do in life is just one thing, I just want to keep growing. I just want to get out of bed and be alive. The thrill of being alive and growing.

Lupe Prado

Your story, it’s beautiful. Thank you for blessing us with that. I’m so inspired, there are tears in my eyes. I’m so inspired by it, and I think so many listeners will be too.

Saul Blinkoff

To those of you who are listening, you have to go see this woman’s face. You have such sincere beautiful expressions. Can I tell you a quick story?

Lupe Prado

Yes, of course.

Saul Blinkoff

Remember I told you something about Glen Keane, earlier? So when I was in college, I knew who Glen Keane was, the greatest Disney Animator. He animated and designed Aladdin, Beast, Tarzan, Pocahontas, Ariel, these are his characters. You’ve heard of them. The guy’s amazing, and I found out in college that Glen Keane uses a certain pencil.

Lupe Prado


Saul Blinkoff

I thought that if I can get the Glen Keane pencil, and I can draw like Keane, this is amazing. So this is before the internet, now you just type in what pencil Glen Keane’s using, you’ll find out. But back then, no. I had to make phone calls and this and that, I finally found out he uses whatever pencil it was.

I called the name of the company. I find them, track them down. I got the company on the phone. I say I’d like to buy some of the pencils. They’re like, we don’t have anymore. I’m like, when are you getting more in? They said we’re never getting more in. We’ve stopped making them, we’ve had 20 boxes and we just sold them to one guy in California.

Is his name Glen Keane? They’re like, how did you know? True story. Years later, I’m in Glen Keane’s office, and I’ll email you a picture of this moment when I was in his office. I’m in his office, and he’s teaching me how to draw Pocahontas. He takes that piece of paper. This is amazing, and he’s drawing  Pocahontas’ face.

As he’s drawing her,  I don’t hear a word he’s saying because I look in the pencil, and he can tell that I’m enamored by the pencil and I’m distracted. He goes, what’s wrong? I’m like, is that the pencil? Can I hold it? I’m holding Glen Keane’s pencil. Half used, he’s like literally holding Michael Angelo’s paintbrush.

This is not just a pencil, this is the one that Glen Keane’s using for Pocahontas. He says to me, Saul I got to tell you something. He goes, I was trained at Disney, but I was known as the Disney Nine Old Men. They were called Disney Nine Old Men. These are the guys that animated Snow White and Pinocchio and Dumbo and Cinderella and Peter Pan and all the other movies, Jungle Book.

And he goes, and they taught me two words that I’ve kept on my desk my entire life. He goes, I’m going to teach them to you right now. And he said the pencil doesn’t make the animator. He pointed to the piece of paper and said two words, “be sincere.” Be sincere. Does he say you want to be a great animator?

It’s not about how well you draw the character. It’s “Do you feel what they’re feeling?” If you don’t feel it, the audience won’t feel it. And right there, that was the secret to what I loved about his animation and The Little Mermaid that made me even go on this journey anyway. Be sincere. It means anything in our lives, we must put our heart into it. He goes, be sincere, put your heart into everything you do.

The reason I bring that up is that that is what makes you, Lupe, so effective and wonderful. You have such sincerity in the questions you ask, but especially these expressions of you really care, and you’re really trying to make an impact. I hope all of your listeners know how incredible you are, and I hope that all of them, so if you haven’t subscribed to Lupe’s podcast, you better hit that subscribe button and pass it to your friends and share it with people you love.

And if you really love someone, you could tell them about Lupe’s podcast. She’s amazing, and you’re making a huge impact, and it’s an honor to meet you like this.  I hope we get to talk again someday.

Lupe Prado

Oh my God, so thank you so much for that. Seriously, hearing your story years ago, I wanted to leave a county and I didn’t know-how. I was so inspired by your story, and you’ve mentioned throughout your story, these moments, these full-circle moments for you, you mentioned E.T.

I remember when I was preparing for this interview and there’s a picture of you with John Williams and I thought, oh cool. As you’re telling the story, I’m like, wow, that must’ve been a full-circle moment. This Glen moment with a pencil.

I feel like there are signs that you were on the right path, that you were doing the thing you were supposed to be doing. And this moment for me, having you here in front of me telling you this story makes me want to cry because I feel like it’s a sign that I’m on the right path.

Saul Blinkoff

You are.

Lupe Prado

So thank you so much for blessing me with this.

Saul Blinkoff

And you know what else that I also want your listeners to keep in mind?  I know you’ll know what this feels like if that shoulder devil I was talking about tells us it’s going to be too hard. Just think about all the effort and the work you’ve put in Lupe, to create this podcast. To get that first episode out, takes so much work and research. There’s the audio and the technical and the microphone and the how’s the format and the posting. There’s so much to learn. It’s an insane amount of work.

Once you get that first episode out, and your listeners, once she takes that first step, it’s the hardest step to take, but never lose the momentum. I want to leave you with one final tool. Even if you’re lucky enough and you have the clarity and you know what you want to accomplish, whatever it is, and you find out how, and you find out how, and you’re going to follow those steps and it’s going to be difficult.

There’s going to be a moment when you fail. You know why? Because we’re human and there’s a great tool. If you’re driving in your car and you type in the navigator an address, and you make a wrong turn on the way, what happens? What does it do?

Lupe Prado

It reroutes.

Saul Blinkoff

Reroute. If we could reroute in our lives, the greatest tool. In steady, we don’t reroute. We do, we go, I failed. That’s it. I’m over. Recalculate, just get back on. Get back to that trajectory, get back to that path and stay the course, and I wish you so much more continued success. I’m going to subscribe to your podcast myself and please stay in touch.

Lupe Prado

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for being here. I know so many people are going to be inspired by your story, and how can people find you? Congratulations on your new podcast. So tell us all the things.

Saul Blinkoff

Yes, it’s really exciting. I’m literally like a baby just born in the podcast world. I had my first three episodes up, but I deliver an episode now every Friday. Every Friday the podcast is called Life of Awesome. That’s the title of it, and the podcast is basically about all aspects of life. It’s about career and relationships and just working on ourselves because I really have one goal. If someone comes up to you and they say, what kind of day do you have? Most people are like, good. How are you doing? Good.

But if someone comes up to you and they say, how’s your day going? And you go, my day is great. They’d be like, why what happened? Something must have happened to make you say great. No, nothing happened. I’m just having a great day. It’s beautiful out. It’s great. But if they come up to you, they go, how’s your day? And you go, my day, it’s not good. It’s not great. It’s awesome.

They’re like, you win the lottery? And you’re like, no, it’s awesome to be alive. It’s just awesome. We really had the perspective of the blessings we have in our life, the gifts we have. We all have gifts, we all do in some capacity. We all have gifts, and they gifted us to be alive, and we would wake up every day screaming that life is awesome. So that’s the goal of the podcast, I want to give people a taste of how to have an awesome life, so please come check me out at Life of Awesome. It’s on Apple and Stitcher, and all these places. The website, you can check out at, so check that out. Again, thank you so much for having me.

Lupe Prado

And I’ll link it on the show notes so people can follow you and tag you, and thank you. Thank you.

Thank you so much for listening to this show. I hope that you found the episode helpful. If you liked the show, please subscribe, and don’t forget to rate and review. I’d also love to connect on Instagram, send me a DM. I’m @lupepradocoaching. I’ll talk to you soon.

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