Ed Catmull Sketchnote from Tools of Titans

Ed cofounded Pixar along with Steve Jobs. He is trained in computer science and is the president of the Walt Disney animation studio. He mentioned that he can’t read poetry. So instead, he listens to it. Ed has received 5 Academy awards and has contributed to many advances in computer graphics. He is also the author of Creativity Inc.

My strategies to recall Ed’s wisdom is as follows:

Start with Ed as that starts for Education. Ed loved listening to lectures from the Teaching Company.

From here, I link learning to reading. Like Ed, I find it difficult to harvest content from books. It’s a muscle but I do fall asleep. “So if you can’t read it then listen to it.”

When you “mull it over” you’re usually making a decision, so this refers to the negotiating deal that Steve Jobs foresaw with Disney. They went public with Pixar a week after Toy Story was released. Disney renegotiated their deal with Steve and Ed after realising they had given birth to a competitor. Steve wasn’t always someone who created win-wins, but he did on this occasion. That reflects his changing views over time.

Ed mentions that first versions ALWAYS suck. Getting an initial story is easy but to really make it awesome and get that extra 20% that usually takes 80% of effort, his team would go into the field. I recall this because cat rhymes with rat, and for Ratatouille, his team went to a restaurant to see how it operated. The general public wouldn’t have the knowledge to question what’s happening and it would seem pretty authentic. I liken this process to that of creating a diamond under pressure. To produce a gem, you need to work through adversity.

I make a link here to Blue Ocean Strategy’s “First Hand Experience.” Thats when managers need to experience pain points themselves so they can see the need to change.

Interestingly, Ed suggests that practicing art is “learning to see”. Artist observe the world and he applies this to other disciplines including the hard sciences.

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