Creativity, Inc.

Last night I began reading Creativity, Inc: Overcoming Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration. It’s written by Ed Catmull, who’s the current president of Walt Disney Studios and Pixar Animation Studios. I’m only a quarter of the way through, but I must say the book is thoroughly enjoyable.

Creativity, Inc. is quotable on almost every page. Here’s an excerpt close to the beginning:

What makes Pixar special is that we acknowledge we will always have problems, many of them hidden from our view; that we work hard to uncover these problems, even if doing so means making ourselves uncomfortable; and that, when we come across a problem, we marshall all of our energies to solve it.

This is so true; problems always lie just over the horizon, and it’s up to leaders to identify these problems (hopefully before they’re too big) and do everything possible to solve them.

Here’s another gem about making movies:

If we made something that we wanted to see, other would want to see it, too.

I totally equate this to education–specifically lesson planning. If I create a lesson plan that I’d like to learn as a student, then my plans are usually successful. If I put a lesson plan together that I know I wouldn’t enjoy participating in as a student… well, it’s probably not going to turn out very well.

I also like Catmull’s humility, which is evident throughout the book:

I believe the best managers acknowledge and make room for what they do not know–not just because humility is a virtue but because until one adopts that mindset, the most striking breakthroughs cannot occur.

That’s powerful. Too often we fool ourselves into thinking we know all we need to know, when the reality is there’s always something new we can learn that will help others or ourselves.

There are so many other excerpts I could include, but I’ll end by saying that I highly encourage you to read this book. Catmull is a great leader, and if nothing else, the success of Pixar and even Disney’s recent endeavors prove it.

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