Sunday, March 23, 2014

CREATIVITY INC by Ed Catmull

For over a decade now, nothing has sold like Steve Jobs. His brand and legacy have made Apple iconic, and the off-and-on number one company in the world along with Exxon. Sitting on a mountain of cash, Apple has been creative in every sense, and now the book CREATIVITY INC by Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull seeks to rewrite the history of Jobs with the perspective that he wasn't personally such a bad guy, after all. Of course in the sheer business sense, Jobs was a genius visionary and perfectionist who was required to demand that everyone live up to that vision. It makes sense that if you want to rule the planet you need to either inspire your employees to greatness or else push those employees hard, with little regard for their feelings. Jobs did both, albeit maybe not at Pixar or in the presence of Catmull. Now, as Disney's Animation president as well, Catmull has chosen not to write an autobiography but rather an inspirational business book about Pixar subtitled "Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration." One of those unseen forces at Apple was Steve Jobs, according to that other biography. Yet after Jobs got sick, his modus operandi changed, he mellowed, and, like his one time nemesis Bill Gates, he came to realize that money wasn't that important. Changing the world was more important. Written with Amy Wallace and narrated by Peter Altschuler on audio, Catmull's book covers nearly twenty years at Pixar, as he created the world's first animated feature, Toy Story, and went on to produce Monsters, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, and Wall-E. "Jobs didn't try to interfere that often," Catmull says. Instead, Steve appreciated their story-telling talents, and supported their creative culture within a unique environment (that may or may not be recreated by others.) Sharing of ideas on Notes Day, and mixing people arbitrarily to foster and encourage new contacts, is but one of many tools listeners might incorporate into their own businesses. Do they have the same playing field or people like John Lasseter, though? Maybe not, but anything that encourages innovation, cooperation, and change must be considered in the plus column, so this book shouldn't be missed.

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