Brb, having a Pixar movie marathon.
My office, aka the best place to work of all time, has a book club. And for the first book, we were given Edwin Catmull‘s Creativity Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration. I don’t normally read business books but if I get to discuss it, I’ll read just about anything. And thankfully my co-workers have amazing taste and this didn’t feel like an assigned reading. Instead it was a trip into the artsy and analytical mind of Edwin Catmull, current president of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Creativity Inc is about Pixar but as Pixar is Catmull’s baby, it’s also about Catmull’s life. Catmull grew up watching The Wonderful World of Disney on TV. Every week, Walt himself explored the science behind the magic in Catmull’s living room. An episode called “Where Do the Stories Come From?,” which highlighted animators as scientists and artists, was particularly impactful. Later, he graduated with degrees in computer science and physics from University of Utah. And always, he wanted to make the first fully computer animated movie. We follow him through years of hard work, an amazing set of circumstances, a boat load of money, and he finally achieves that dream.
Enter the exceptional movie Toy Story.
After Toy Story, Catmull admits he was left feeling adrift. What do you do once you’ve achieved your dream goal? I’m summarizing a fair amount here, but essentially he decides his new goal was to become an amazing manager and grow Pixar. As he’s worked to reach this new goal, he’s learned a lot. And through Creativity, Inc he shares an amazing amount of that wisdom. Everything from managing people, building trust, creating supportive systems, giving and receiving criticism. And a ton more.
I would recommend this book to anyone who works on anything or anywhere. Even if the whole book doesn’t apply to your current situation, you’ll learn something that applies.
(I mean, come on. Even the premise is a little crazy/inspirational. A science guy helped give us Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc? But that’s the point, he isn’t just a science guy.)
But I also recommend this book for it’s literary value. It tells an incredible story of someone who fights for their dream. And the fact that his dream gave us some of the best children’s movies of all time makes it even better. The stories he shares of the Incredibles, Bug’s Life, and Wall-E, are all a joy to read while teaching important lessons. Not to mention the story of Steve Job’s fascinating role in the whole thing.
True, it isn’t 100% super interesting. But it helped me to reflect on how I can be a better employee, a better creative, a better team member, and it was a joy to read. And I’m no where near the only one who thinks so.
Ok and really, someone needs to lend me Up. If you can finish this book and not feel the same way, you’re probably a robot.