Review of “Creativity, Inc.”

I have some amazing writers here.  And we have a new writer to welcome!  Whitney loves to read and LOVES Pixar.  She read the new book by Ed Catmull and shares her review of the book. Thanks Whitney and welcome to “Mouse”cation.


creativity incAnyone who knows me knows the depths of my love for Pixar. It is my dream to one day work in its story department. No, really. I’ve read several books about Pixar and its movies, so when I heard that Ed Catmull, Co-Founder and President of Pixar Animation and President of Disney Animation, had written a book, I could not wait to read it. The book is called Creativity, Inc.:  Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration. I know that the book was written primarily as a resource for, especially in areas where originality and creativity is key. I am not the manager of a company, but I knew that in order to pass on the leadership wisdom he has gained, some great stories were bound to surface. I am a bit ashamed to say that I began reading this book assuming that loads of really valuable managerial information would be totally lost on me, and sprinkled thinly throughout would be stories about the animation studio I so admire. I am pleased to say that I was wrong. I almost expected the format of a self-help book. You know, the type that gives you “10 Simple Steps” to doing whatever it is you want.  What I found instead was a detailed chronological account of how Pixar began, chock full of the stories I’d been hoping for, the lessons learned through those experiences, and how those lessons shaped the way the studio is run. What I found was that this book was not only for managers of companies (and Pixar fanatics), but also has valuable information for leaders of families, especially on the topic of failure.

Failure is generally assumed to be negative. Most people, myself included, spend extra time and effort in the hopes of avoiding failure. Yes, making mistakes is part of life, but normally, it is not a welcomed part of life. I learned that the same is not true at Pixar. To those at Pixar, failure is not seen as simply something they are required to deal with and work through. In fact, it is seen as a welcomed and positive part of their process. It might seem strange that a studio that has consistently produced hit after hit would be so openly accepting of failure, but I think that is exactly why they are so successful. A quote that is seen throughout the book is one from Andrew Stanton, director of Finding Nemo and part of the Pixar Braintrust.  Andrew has said to “fail early and fail fast,” and “be wrong as fast as you can”. This shows not to submit to failure, but accept it as a stepping stone to something better, and the faster you fail, the faster you can rule out what doesn’t work and move on toward what does. Thinking this way not only takes the stigma off of failure, but actually helps view it as a necessary part of learning. By not allowing themselves to be paralyzed by fear of making mistakes, they are able to chase ideas that might seem crazy, but end up as amazing successes (like maybe an elderly gentleman flying his home across the world by helium balloons).  I think this can be an important thing to remember, especially as a parent. When we (or our kids) are not so worried about the possibility of failing, we tend to be more open to trying new things and when that happens, the possibilities for the future truly are limitless.

This book has taught me to think differently about failure and how it can be a force for positivity in my life and for my family. I hope that because of what I have learned in this book, I can be a model of this to my kids. I hope they see me deal with failure as an opportunity to keep trying. Most importantly, I hope they learn not to let fear of mistakes hold them hostage from trying new things. I never expected to have such a strong reaction to what was meant as a resource for managers, but what this book has shown me is invaluable.