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Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration | [Ed Catmull, Amy Wallace]

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation - into the meetings, postmortems, and "Braintrust" sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture - but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, "an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible."
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Publisher's Summary

From Ed Catmull, co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios, comes an incisive book about creativity in business - sure to appeal to readers of Daniel Pink, Tom Peters, and Chip and Dan Heath.

Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation - into the meetings, postmortems, and "Braintrust" sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture - but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, "an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible."

For nearly 20 years, Pixar has dominated the world of animation, producing such beloved films as the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, and WALL-E, which have gone on to set box-office records and garner 30 Academy Awards. The joyousness of the storytelling, the inventive plots, the emotional authenticity: In some ways, Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is. Here, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques that have made Pixar so widely admired - and so profitable.

As a young man, Ed Catmull had a dream: to make the first computer-animated movie. He nurtured that dream as a PhD student at the University of Utah, where many computer science pioneers got their start, and then forged a partnership with George Lucas that led, indirectly, to his founding Pixar with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter in 1986. Nine years later, Toy Story was released, changing animation forever. The essential ingredient in that movie’s success - and in the 13 movies that followed - was the unique environment that Catmull and his colleagues built at Pixar, based on philosophies that protect the creative process and defy convention, such as:

  • Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.
  • If you don’t strive to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.
  • It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them.
  • The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them.
  • A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.
  • Do not assume that general agreement will lead to change - it takes substantial energy to move a group, even when all are on board.

©2014 Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace (P)2014 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"Many have attempted to formulate and categorize inspiration and creativity. What Ed Catmull shares instead is his astute experience that creativity isn’t strictly a well of ideas, but an alchemy of people. In Creativity, Inc. Ed reveals, with commonsense specificity and honesty, examples of how not to get in your own way and how to realize a creative coalescence of art, business, and innovation." (George Lucas)

"Business gurus love to tell stories about Pixar, but this is our first chance to hear the real story from someone who lived it and led it. Everyone interested in managing innovation - or just good managing - needs to read this book." (Chip Heath, co-author of Switch and Decisive)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Joe Sparks SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States 04-10-14
    Joe Sparks SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States 04-10-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bought the instant I saw it."

    Ed Catmull? Done! I bought this book within 2 seconds of seeing the title. I'm nearly done with the book. Really fun to get the pixar story from Catmull's side. (a major inventor of 3D graphics technology since the 70's) It reminds me of listening to The Woz autobiography: there's parallels (Both were tech partners with Steve Jobs). I've read many books that get into the pixar story, and I have my own personal history with the people from this company and era(s). Enjoying this perspective on company building, team leadership, balancing people and constraints, unique aspects of creative teams, amazing stories, and much more.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Klaussen Newnan, GA USA 11-15-14
    Daniel Klaussen Newnan, GA USA 11-15-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Great business book rendered nearly unlistenable"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I enjoyed the story. I loved the story. Several great insights and lessons to be applied in my everyday role. Executing on a Brain Trust team will be challenging...but it is spot on.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Creativity, Inc.?

    I watch our team behavior with a new perspective. More than once I've found myself picking a chair against the back wall to shake up the rigid seating patterns. Love it.


    What didn’t you like about Peter Altschuler’s performance?

    Peter's style, interests and understanding of the subject matter were clearly a total mismatch for this content. Peter may be a great "performer" and may the right style for a good drama, but not a business book.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Todd A. Finkle 04-29-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Lessons on Creativity & Entertainment"
    What did you love best about Creativity, Inc.?

    An in-depth look at the history of Pixar, Steve Jobs, and it's acquisition by Disney. The author takes you through Pixar's humble beginnings, the impact Steve Jobs had on the firm when he bought it and took it public, the various ways that they created a culture of excellence and creativity. It's interesting to hear how they created Toy Story, Ratitue(sp), Finding Nemo, etc. If you love creativity and entertainment it will open your mind. The author takes you through the many steps involved in the creative process of writing a script. One thing that stood out to me was the finding that 1st graders are more creative than 5th graders. That is a telling finding. The book will help anyone as it teaches you about how to live a more creative life.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Austin M. Craig Provo, UT 11-10-14
    Austin M. Craig Provo, UT 11-10-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Rare insights - Not your average business book"
    What made the experience of listening to Creativity, Inc. the most enjoyable?

    There were parts of this book that didn't make sense to me when I first listened... but they stuck. And I think I understand them better over time. It's the kind of book that takes a bit to settle in, for the lessons to really register. To me, those are the good ones.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Creativity, Inc.?

    "Your model of reality is not reality itself." This was frustrating when I first heard it. What are supposed to use if our own worldview models are inadequate? I believe I understand now from this that models of the world are simply tools. Use them when they're helpful. Discard them when they aren't.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    The Making of the Pixar Legend


    Any additional comments?

    Catmull teaches lessons that will prove invaluable to anybody who works in a creative space. You won't find his perspective elsewhere.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Client 11-05-14
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    "Almost impossible to listen to."
    What disappointed you about Creativity, Inc.?

    The worst delivery imaginable. What a total disappointment. Such a great story, and such a terrible performance. Even a few minutes is difficult to get through, the voiceover is so affected and exaggerated and distracting. Awful stuff.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Peter Altschuler’s performances?

    Never. Ever.


    Any additional comments?

    Buy the digital or paper book, skip the audio edition.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 10-29-14
    David 10-29-14 Member Since 2005
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    "Absolutely loved it!"
    Any additional comments?

    As a director of engineering for a semiconductor company, I found this book both inspiring and entertaining. There are many Pixar concepts that I would like to incorporate into our culture.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine M. Holzem St. Louis, MO 10-21-14
    Katherine M. Holzem St. Louis, MO 10-21-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Wow! A rare portrait of introspection and insight!"
    Would you listen to Creativity, Inc. again? Why?

    Many of the insights provided by Ed Catmull on how to manage creative teams are extremely thought provoking. Having had a prior opportunity to hear Dr. Catmull speak, I knew that he could be very engaging (the President of Pixar captivated an audience without even a single slide). His book was no disappointment. He expounds on the various aspects and challenges of creating a successful company and managing complex teams, but he does this in an extremely unpretentious manner. His introspective nature comes through in the text as he acknowledges his company's successes and failures, always keeping in mind the limitations and tendencies of all human beings. Throughout the book I was totally engaged, and I never felt he was being overly redundant in his messages. After listening for several hours, I had looked down in hopes that the book wasn't coming to and end... and I was relieved to discover I had 6 more hours of Dr. Catmull's wisdom!

    I could image re-listening to this book again to further appreciate and solidify his messages. Anyone who serves in a leadership role could benefit from this story.


    What other book might you compare Creativity, Inc. to and why?

    The character of the book most reminds me of the Steve Jobs biography. However, Ed Catmull's first-hand telling of his own experiences make this into a book that one could learn from as well as be engaged by.


    Have you listened to any of Peter Altschuler’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I think the performance and voice are very fitting to the book.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Ed Catmull is one of my favorite people!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Palmdale CA 10-03-14
    Dave Palmdale CA 10-03-14

    Always loved reading books. Now listening to more and more audio books as I can do it in the car, or on my phone. Really loving them.

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    "Pixar, Business and Creativity in a Team Setting"
    If you could sum up Creativity, Inc. in three words, what would they be?

    Inspiring, Thought Provoking


    Which character – as performed by Peter Altschuler – was your favorite?

    Peter Altschuler makes it feel like he's the author, telling his story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Henrik Ebbeskog 10-02-14 Member Since 2014
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    "What a truly wonderful story!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Creativity, Inc. to be better than the print version?

    No.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    No characters in this book.


    What does Peter Altschuler bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I think he was a good narrator, but not sure he brought anything additional.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It just made me overwhelmed :-)


    Any additional comments?

    One of the best books I've read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc Wilhelm New England 09-29-14
    Marc Wilhelm New England 09-29-14

    Professional Game Designer | Professor | Creative | I alternate between reading for knowledge and pleasure.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A 'must read' for ALL creatives & their biz partners"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely, I'd recommend this book to most people. The book covers so much fascinating and useful information. Contains great examples and anecdotes about the creative process and the process as it pertains to the business of entertainment. If you or someone you love wants to or is making a living by creating, this book is essential.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Creativity, Inc.?

    Catmull points out that the creative process is messy. So messy that even seasoned and brilliant pros like those at Pixar, start out with an initial pass at something that almost always completely "sucks." It is through careful discussion and partnering with the objective members of an close-knit and candid "Brain Trust" that they are able to turn that initial pass into something brilliant that ignites the spirit of millions and wins awards.


    Which character – as performed by Peter Altschuler – was your favorite?

    Steve Jobs. There is a great deal of material regarding Jobs that is, candid yet graceful and fair to the man. Those interested in Jobs have heard mounds and mounds of information about his launch, fall, rebirth and growth as a leader as it pertains to Apple and NEXT, but not so much in terms of his close and healthy relationship with the team at Pixar. It is great to hear him remembered so fairly and positively through Catmull's anecdotes.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    How technology and the human spirit combined to change animation forever and create the most memorable works of storytelling, the world has felt.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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