Pixar’s heroes aren’t all animated

Creativity, Inc. book cover
Ed Catmull’s recipe for success will sound familiar to fans of Pixar’s films.

The man:
Pixar’s story is a little like those in its films: Some kids with moxie who did things differently took a risk and won over the world. Each of Pixar’s 14 computer-animated films has opened at number one; together they’ve grossed $8.5 billion worldwide. And, just like in a fairy tale, Pixar’s story has a hero.
The current president of both Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, Ed Catmull, came to movies by way of science. He garnered degrees in physics and computer science from the University of Utah. And his groundbreaking work in computer animation, while there, attracted the attention of the New York Institute of Technology, which hired him to lead it’s new Computer Graphics Lab in 1974. From there, in 1979, George Lucas brought in Catmull to lead Lucasfilm’s computer-graphics division, which, in 1986, was purchased by Steve Jobs and renamed Pixar. The rest, as they say, is history.

But it might not have been, if not for Catmull and his cofounders’ forward-thinking managerial style and approaches toward growing a business.

The missive:
With the help of journalist Amy Wallace, Catmull has distilled his working ethos into an engaging book, “Creativity, Inc.”, which will be published by Random House on April 8, that is part memoir, part storytelling, and part business guide.

Pixar fans will enjoy behind-the-scenes stories and trivia (“Monsters, Inc.” was originally about a grown man dealing with frightening creatures no one else can see); business leaders will glean not just information but motivation too (see below). Catmull’s secret to success seems to be an unwavering dedication to looking for unknowns and dealing with what he finds. He focuses on preparing himself and his team to deal with unseen challenges when they’re found, rather than trying to prevent them or, worse, pretend they aren’t there. Being unafraid of challenges and working cooperatively first and foremost are things that Catmull believes will make businesses better. To Pixar fans, it sounds familiar.

Tips from Ed Catmull:

“If there are people in your organization who feel they are not free to suggest ideas, you lose. Do not discount ideas from unexpected sources.”

“There are many valid reasons why people aren’t candid with one another in a work environment. Your job is to search for those reasons and then address them.”

“Do not fall for the illusion that by preventing errors, you won’t have errors to fix. The truth is, the cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them.”

“Change and uncertainty are part of life. Our job is not to resist them but to build the capability to recover when unexpected events occur.”

“Similarly, it is not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It is the manager’s job to make it safe to take them.”

“Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.”

“Trust doesn’t mean that you trust that someone won’t screw up—it means you trust them even when they do screwup.”

“A company’s communication structure should not mirror it’s organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.”

“Do not accidentally make stability a goal. Balance is more important than stability.”

Don’t confuse the process with the goal. Working on our processes to make them better, easier, and more efficient is an indispensable activity and something we should continually work on—but it is not the goal. Making the product great is the goal.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Breaking: National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

News

Rock legend Neil Young files for divorce after…

The legendary Canadian rocker Neil Young has filed for divorce from his wife of 36 years.

Local

FDNY debuts new fire simulator for blazes at…

The New York City Fire Department christened its newest, state-of-the-art, custom-built simulator at its training academy on Randall's Island Tuesday.

Local

Brewer celebrates Women's Equality Day with voter pledge

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer celebrated Women’s Equality Day Tuesday by pledging to register at least five women voters before the Oct. 10 deadline. Brewer…

Movies

Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood' is a…

Dakota Fanning plays Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) teenage gal pal in "The Last of Robin Hood," which takes a scandal and makes it dully empathetic.

Movies

Review: The uneven 'Life of Crime' mostly gets…

Elmore Leonard's "The Switch" becomes the new indie crime dramedy "Life of Crime," with Jennifer Aniston as a kidnapped woman whose husband won't pay up.

Movies

Review: Pierce Brosnan gets a cut-rate Bond knockoff…

Pierce Brosnan tries to reclaim his glory days with the spy thriller "The November Man" but instead gets a sad DTV-style ripoff with lame action.

Music

Tiesto headlines Made in America

Electronic music legend Tiesto is ready to get in touch with his inner Rocky at the Jay Z-curated Budweiser Made in America festival this weekend…

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Career

Stop eating lunch at your desk

What are you doing for lunch today? If you are like most workers, you'll be eating at your desk - which isn't much of a…

Parenting

Lure your baby to sleep with Maroon 5…

These new renditions of "Moves Like Jagger" and "Payphone" are Maroon 5 like you've never heard them before.

Wellbeing

Who is having the most orgasms?

  Single lesbians report having orgasms more often than heterosexual women but both gay and straight men still come out on top of the climax…

Home

Jonathan Adler shares his tips for a great…

Jonathan Adler took a break from boogie boarding at his beach house to tell us how to keep that Labor Day party festive.