Book Jeff

The Privilege of Forgetting

Do you ever get frustrated at your own forgetfulness?

Welcome to the club!

Over the years, I’ve managed to forget $5,000 in cash at an ATM machine, both an iPhone and an iPad on the roof of a car, even the name of my girlfriend while on a date at Disneyland. In my defense, I have had two brain surgeries. But still….

Feel better?

Good, me too!

That’s what clubs do. They allow humans to form community around common interests, common goals, and common challenges.

I felt a smidge better when recently reading the backstory on how C. V. Wood, Disneyland’s often forgotten first vice president and general manager, was able to get Disneyland’s first sponsor, Swift’s Quality Meats, to commit to a contract. Turns out that Wood, too, was a member of Club Forget Me Not.

Selling Walt’s big idea to bigger known corporations, like Coke or Hallmark, was going nowhere, so one afternoon while in Chicago, C. V. Wood, along with Fred Schumacher, was pitching the park to the president of Swift. To date, they hadn’t signed up a single sponsor, a major tenant, or even one lessee. Walt Disney’s dream was dying.


This pitch to the meat-packing president also went poorly, and the two were eventually tossed out of the president’s office. But on their way out of the building, Wood realized he had “forgotten” his briefcase in the president’s office and used that as an excuse to go back up and make another pitch. In his book, Disney’s Land, Richard Snow recounts what happened next:

…the effrontery of his manufactured forgetfulness amused the boss, and he laughed.

Perhaps he had been regretting turning Disneyland down; whatever the reason, the tenor of this second meeting was very different…. The mood in the room was cheerful now, the president asking questions rather than simply absorbing Wood’s enthusiasm. Wood and Schumacher went away with a commitment from Swift to build and operate a restaurant on Main Street, paying a yearly lease of $110,000 for the privilege.


After signing up Swift, deals with companies like Kodak, TWA, Richfield Oil, and Kaiser Aluminum Oil quickly (or swiftly) followed. Annual rents were $20 a square foot on Main Street, and $15 throughout the rest of the park. Even Ray Kroc sent a letter asking if his McDonald’s could join the club, but a deal was never struck.

You may not realize it, but forgetfulness can be a privilege. Forgetting certainly worked out well for C. V. Wood, Walt, and Disneyland. I bet you can remember a few times when it has for you, too.

The newest neurological science suggests that forgetting is good for your memory and brain health. In a world that bombards us with information overload, perpetual PTSD, and endless offenses, making the conscious choice to let go, forgive, and forget puts you on a privileged path.

Think about it.

We’ve all had bad days. We’ve all been through a traumatic event or two. We’ve all done things we wish we could just forget. Guess what? Every day is a new and different day! Every day is a chance to forget, sometimes intentionally, and give yourself, and those around you, a second chance. A new lease on life, if you will.

Just don’t forget this piece of advice.



Want more from the Wisdom of Walt? Download my free resource for leadership and management: Listen to the Park, filled with 7 lessons from the Happiest Place on Earth.

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