A couple of weeks ago, I went down to Valdosta for a few days. On my way out of town, I stopped by a did a few interviews with Albany CEO. The guys over there know me pretty well, and they know that I love to read. So, the asked me about some of the books I had read that would be helpful for people in a creative business. Hands down, my number one recommendation to anyone business owner in a creative field is Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull*.
Ed Catmull is the President of Pixar and Disney Animation. The man is technologically genius, productively creative and business savvy too. The book is somewhat of an autobiography that doesn't tell about his life (as a whole) but about his life at Pixar. This is a great combination; I want to read about his roots at Lucusfilm, not about his roots in Mormonism. This format allows the reader to see successful creativity through the eyes of one of the giants without having to sift through all of the extra stuff.
What surprised me about this book was that it was extremely applicable. You would think that since, from the very beginning, Pixar was always doing enormous things that experiences would be interesting but not very applicable. I expected to read it and think, How remarkable! Instead, I read it and thought, I know exactly what you're talking about. It is amazing how united (and uniting) creativity can be. The same joys and frustrations, victories and failures, breakthroughs and conundrums are experienced by creative people and companies everywhere. From the biggest down to the smallest, we can all glean helpful information from each other.
The books subtitle is "Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration." The book does not disappoint. I guess, though, that I assumed he just meant avoiding and not actually overcoming. You see, if you avoid something you have the prior wisdom that enables you to not go through it. To overcome something you must grapple with it; you must endure it; you must almost be concurred by it. I did not expect this with Pixar. Hit after hit, good story after good story, advancement after advancement—they just kept making magic. As it turns out, they went through a lot of hardships along the way.
When I read this book, I was fearing the worst: that my business was failing. Why? Because we were facing problems that I thought no successful business ever faced. I felt sure that this was a mark of future failure. Imagine my surprise to read that Pixar has had the same problem. Ed went on to assure me that such a problem is not only unavoidable, it is good. It is—even—part of the creative process. It is a mark of future success if you endure.
This is a great book that I would highly recommend to any person in a creative business. However, this autobiography would not be without the pen of journalist Amy Wallace. One thing I appreciate about Ed Catmull is he gives credit where credit is due. If you enjoy the writing in this book (which I did) credit is due to Amy Wallace.
Go buy the book*; put on a pot of coffee and be prepared to be amazed yet again by a story of Pixar.
* Daniel Titus is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.