#317 Ed Catmull (Pixar)

Episode Summary

What I learned from rereading Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull.

Episode Notes

What I learned from rereading Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull. 


I use EightSleep to get the best sleep of my life. Find out why EightSleep is loved by founders everywhere and get $150 off at


Join my free email newsletter to get my top 10 highlights from every book


(7:00) Walt Disney created a made-up world, used cutting-edge technology to enable it, and then told us how he’d done it.

(7:30) Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. (Founders #187)

(7:30) Both Einstein and Disney inspired me, but Disney affected me more because of his weekly visits to my family's living room.

(7:45) Every time some technological breakthrough occurred, Walt Disney incorporated it.

(9:30) His dad was the son of an Idaho dirt farmer. His dad was one of 14 kids. 5 of his dad's siblings died as infants. His dad was the first person in his family ever to go to college. He had to work while he was going to college and pay his own way. His dad built the family house with his own hands.

(10:30) When you read biographies of people who've done great work, it's remarkable how much luck is involved. They discover what to work on as a result of a chance meeting, or by reading a book they happen to pick up. So you need to make yourself a big target for luck, and the way to do that is to be curious. Try lots of things, meet lots of people, read lots of books, ask lots of questions. — How To Do Great Work by Paul Graham. (Founders #314)

(12:30) The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story by Michael Lewis (Founders #274)

(14:00) George Lucas: A Life by Brian Jay Jones (Founders #35)

(15:00) We [Ed Catmull and George Lucas] worked with a blinders on intensity. George had relentless practicality. He wasn't some hobbyist trying to bring technology into filmmaking for the heck of it. His interest in computers began and ended with their potential to add value to his filmmaking process.

(19:00) George Lucas believed in the future and his ability to shape it.

(20:30) The storyteller is the most powerful person in the world. — Steve Jobs

(20:30) The art of storytelling is critically important. Most of the entrepreneurs who come talk to us can't tell a story. Learning to tell a story is incredibly important because that's how the money works. The money flows as a function of the stories — Don Valentine

(22:30) Steve used the phrase insanely great products to explain what he believed in.

(26:30) This guy told me that the way to establish his authority in the room was to arrive last. His thinking was this would establish him as the most powerful player in the room since he could afford to keep everyone else waiting. All it ended up establishing was that he had never met anyone like Steve jobs.

(38:30) If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.

(42:00) Everything associated with our name needed to be good. Quality is the best business plan.

(42:30) Steve understood that every interaction a customer had with Apple could increase or decrease his or her respect for the company. As he put it, a corporation "could accumulate or withdraw credits" from its reputation, which is why he worked so hard to ensure that every single interaction a customer might have with Apple-from using a Mac to calling customer support to buying a single from the iTunes store and then getting billed for it-was excellent. — Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli (Founders #265)

(48:30) Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos (Founders #282)

(52:30) People discover and realize their visions over time and through dedicated, protracted struggle.

(53:30) If you’re sailing across the ocean and your goal is to avoid weather and waves, then why the hell are you sailing? You have to embrace that sailing means that you can’t control the elements and that there will be good days and bad days and that, whatever comes, you will deal with it because your goal is to eventually get to the other side. You will not be able to control exactly how you get across. That’s the game you’ve decided to be in. If your goal is to make it easier and simpler, then don’t get in the boat.

(59:00) It is difficult to understand people who deviate so radically from the norm like Steve did.


I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested, so my poor wallet suffers.” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast