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A Pixar Without Ed Catmull Might Be A Pixar Without Disney

ed catmull

From Angela Watercutter at Wired:

Late Tuesday night, after 32 years, Ed Catmull announced he would be retiring at the end of this year. This is not sad news, though—it’s a chance to give Pixar a new future.

I’m late on this news because I was out of town and thus not blogging when the announcement broke (and somewhat silently from what I can tell). I didn’t even hear about Catmull’s retirement until a day after everyone else, and I’ve been stewing in my thoughts ever since.

In the cited piece above, Watercutter details how Catmull’s retirement is “an opportunity, not a loss.” And of course, Catmull himself claimed in his 2015 book Creativity Inc. that it was always his goal to leave Pixar with a strong legacy of lasting leadership (hence, Catmull is staying on as advisor through next July). It’s very Pixar-esque to look at a problem as an opportunity, and for now, I share in the optimism painting this upcoming era, but for a very different reason than even I expected.

It’s looking like Pixar is reclaiming its independence from Disney, albeit one promotion/departure at a time.

Go on…A Pixar Without Ed Catmull Might Be A Pixar Without Disney

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Why Pixar Doesn’t Have a ‘Mission Statement’

mission statement

“Why the president of Pixar doesn’t believe in mission statements” – from Simone Stolzoff at Quartz:

Mission statements get plastered on office walls and then forgotten about, which is why Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, doesn’t believe in them.

At messaging company Slack’s annual summit last week, Catmull told the crowd that Pixar, which he cofounded, doesn’t have a mission statement. “When you come up with a mission statement, you come up with an answer,” Catmull said. “And an answer is the wrong place to start a discussion.”

If you’ve been following the recent controversies surrounding Pixar and its treatment of employees, you have cause to be worried about the future of the animation studio. But the above is a good point for Catmull to make. He explains that any “mission statement” for a business should be an “ongoing dialogue among employees,” as Stolzoff describes it.

Go on…Why Pixar Doesn’t Have a ‘Mission Statement’

Creativity Winks.

I’m writing this as I ride a bus on my way to a bookstore in San Francisco, where I’ll be picking up my own copy of Creativity Inc. 

The book is written by Ed Catmull, who you may know as Pixar’s current President, along with Amy Wallace.

It’s a book about creative leadership, or to be more specific, creating an environment that allows people to create. And maybe not just create, but be incredibly creative. You can imagine why Catmull has the authority to write such a book, considering he’s been in charge of one of the most creative companies in the world (and not only when it comes to movies).

creativity winks
You can click the image to purchase the book for yourself and/or read reviews.

So I’m pretty excited to get my hands on the book, as I’m sure it will provide valuable insights into how I can foster a creative environment for myself. Which is why I’m writing this post and titling it “Creativity Winks.”

Because I certainly can’t lend anything as credible or even profound as Catmull or anyone else in Pixar’s leadership. But before I inundate myself with the wisdom of the experts, I do want to share with you my takeaway about what it means to be creative.

And that’s just it right there. Being creative is missing the point entirely. Everyone is creative, especially about things they care about. Some people try to say that “creativity” is being inspiring when it comes to a topic they aren’t passionate about. But that’s definitely not it either (they’re just confusing skill and empathy with originality).

Creativity winks at us. Our minds (depending on who you are) flash brilliant moments of incredible originality almost routinely. It’s just up to us to play those moments out. Or save them for later.

That moment when a catchy tune gets caught in my head – and I realize I’m the one who thought it up – is a “wink” of creativity that will be lost forever in a matter of minutes. Unless I take out my phone and record my humming. A few days later, I’m figuring out the chords for a new ukulele song I’m writing (yes, this is a true story).

Creativity also winks at me when I write fiction. Some of you may follow along with my serial novel, The Pixar Detective, and I’ve been asked routinely how I come up with the story and characters on such a consistent, uninterrupted basis.

Well I’m certain that if I tried to write an entire chapter of The Pixar Detective in one sitting, I’d produce something that isn’t my best work. And that’s because it takes time for flashes of creativity to arrive. For some of us, it can take hours, days, or even weeks.

What I’ve found, though, is that the frequency in which these “winks” arrive is progressively increased as we apply those ideas when they do come.

In other words: the more you create, the more creative you will become. It’s a simple, but hopelessly ignored concept.

So creativity winks at us. And I’ve learned from experience that some of the most brilliant ideas we can come up with are as fleeting as they are wonderful. But if you take the time to write them down and play them out, you’ll immediately set yourself apart.

Thanks for reading! You can subscribe to this blog by email via the prompt on the sidebar. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@JonNegroni). I’ll follow you back if you say something witty and awesome.

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