‘Creativity Inc.’ (Summary)

by Ed Catmull


When I was a kid, Pixar was one of the first companies that I uttered the words “that is my dream job” aloud. Maybe it was my version of I want to be an astronaut. Now, in 2015, I just finished ‘Creativity Inc.’ by Ed Catmull, President of Pixar. The story is a peak behind the curtains into the team that brought animated films into our lives.

Catmull earned his doctorate in computer science and was hired to become the director of the new computer graphics lab at NYIT. This was one of the first times in his life where he felt like he may end up fulfilling his lifelong dream: to create a computer-animated movie.

George Lucas, from Lucasfilms, ended up hiring Catmull to become the Vice President of computer graphics at Lucasfilm. This would later lead to a meeting with Steve Jobs, who agreed to buy Lucasfilm’s digital division. Soon after, they founded Pixar, Ed became the CTO and joined forces with Steve.

Ed cast a light on how Pixar operated — from buying furniture to producing award-winning movies. Of course, success is never had without some type of struggle, which Pixar experienced many times. Ed had a knack for steering the ship through rocky waters, including competition, lack of money, and the doubt from outsiders.

Here are my favorite lessons from the book:

  1. Always look for signs of confusion and delusion in your company
  2. Pay attention to all of your employees. All. Of. Them.
  3. Ask for feedback
  4. Hire the right people, once you do that, let them fly
  5. Visual polish doesn’t mean anything unless you nail the story
  6. Immerse yourself into what you’re creating, never stop educating yourself, and your team

I was thrilled to learn how Ed managed employees at Pixar, but the one thing that stuck out, was the importance he placed on each individual in the company. I am lucky enough to get a chance to manage and work with people every day, and I couldn’t agree more. The people you work with are everything. They define you, they define the company, and I’m grateful for having the chance to work with such incredible people.

On to the next book!

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Favorite Quote:
“You’ll never stumble upon the unexpected if you stick only to the familiar,”

Should you read this book?
Yes. Read the story of Pixar and one of the founders? You can’t go wrong.

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