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Leadership Summit 2015: Ed Catmull

gls15edcatmull

If you missed the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit this year, no worries I’ve got you covered. I’ll be posting my notes and thoughts from each presenter over the next couple of days.

Ed Catmull, Co-Founder of Pixar Animation Studios and President of Walt Disney Animation Studios, delivered a fantastic talk on creativity and leadership!

  • One of the great misunderstandings of our time is that art and science are in-congruent.
  • Art is not about drawing but learning to see.
  • It all comes down to the power of a story.
  • Great animation connected to a bad story makes for a bad film.
  • Stories are the way we communicate with each other at every level.
  • The good stories are the ones that connect with deep emotions.
  • Every great film starts as an ugly baby…if every idea was great we’d be done…
  • How do we help people improve ideas?
  • If there is laughter in the room they’ll solve the problem no matter how ugly it is right now.

The Brain trust

  1. Peers talking to peers
  2. In that room there is no power structure
  3. They have a vested interest in each others success (the vested interest is in the film being right)
  4. Give and listen to good notes (evaluation)
  • Every once in a while we violate our own rules/culture but every once in a while magic happens. Egos fade away and fantastic work takes place.
  • When you are working on something and you’re in the middle of it, you can’t help but lose objectivity.
  • Creativity is about solving problems. Coming up with solutions is a creative act.
  • The group and their culture determines if they are going to solve the problem.
  • Embrace candor with kindness.
  • There is a real aura of danger around failure in our culture…that fear of failure has become a lid to creativity.
  • What are the barriers to telling each other the truth? (Candor with kindness)…fear.
  • If you can get past the embarrassment of failure it can free you up to be more creative.
  • All good artists know you have to operate within constraints otherwise it’s unbounded.
  • Budgets and schedules allow you to focus creative energy on the right things.
  • If you spend too much time on it, it can lose it’s impact…don’t get lost in the detail.
  • Stating and agreeing to values is easy to do, the hard part is to ask yourself why you’re not living up to them.
  • Trust is something everybody agrees to but hard to do…it takes time, you’ve got to earn it.

Posted in Leadership

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