ETL with Ed Catmull – President, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios

For our week on inspiration, what better to look to than the magic of Walt Disney and Pixar? Ed Catmull, president of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, spoke this Wednesday for the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Seminar series hosted by BASES. Through a Q&A about his New York Times Bestseller, Creativity, Inc., Catmull discussed his career trajectory, obstacles he overcame, and his management best practices.

Catmull first spoke of his fascination with Walt Disney and his boyhood dream to work with graphics. He had no idea what path to follow to work in animation, so he spent his undergraduate education studying physics and computer science. After graduating, Catmull recognized that art and tech could coincide, so he set out to make the first computer-animated film: Toy Story. He spoke about everything from trying to save a failing company to producing “Frozen,” the most successful animated film in history.

As inspiring as Catmull’s story is, a key to his success is that he himself was open to inspiration from others. He spoke about his mentors, co-workers and colleagues such as George Lucas, Steve Jobs, and John Lasseter, in addition to stressing how trust within an organization is fundamental in order to innovate and learn from failure.

Pixar’s consistency in producing quality, high-grossing movies is impressive in the midst of an evolving film industry. Catmull reminded us that creativity is just as important to innovation as technology—by combining the two, we can create magic.


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