41 Terrific Edwin E. Catmull Quotes

Ed Catmull is a computer scientist, aiding in the development and advancement of computer animation and graphics. Taking the field of 3D computer graphics and creating motion pictures with this new technology, the birth of Pixar came. Here is a look at some of the best Edwin E. Catmull quotes from his life.

“A manager’s default mode should not be secrecy.”

“Always take a chance on better, even if it seems threatening.”

“Art isn’t about drawing; it’s about learning to see. What organization doesn’t need this ability?”

“Be patient. Be authentic. And be consistent. The trust will come.”

“Craft is what we are expected to know; art is the unexpected use of our craft.”

“Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you share them with others. Show early and show often. It’ll be pretty when we get there, but it won’t be pretty along the way.”


“Every creative person can draft into service those around them who exhibit the right mixture of intelligence, insight, and grace.”

“Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.”

“Failure was being used as a weapon, rather than as an agent of learning.”

“Fear can be created quickly; trust can’t.”

“For leaders especially, this strategy – trying to avoid failure be out thinking it dooms you to fail.”

“For me, creativity includes problem-solving. That’s the broad definition of it.”

“Getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than getting the right idea.”

“I actually feel awkward being at the center of attention.”

“I love solving the problems of having groups work together and removing barriers. But to actually turn around and be in the center of that is an awkward place to be.”

“If everyone is trying to prevent error, it screws things up.”

“If you aren’t experiencing failure, then you are making a far worse mistake: You are being driven by the desire to avoid it.”

“If you give a good idea to a mediocre group, they’ll screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a good group, they’ll fix it. Or they’ll throw it away and come up with something else.”

“It’s pretty popular today to say that everybody should learn to fail and that failure’s a good thing. Intellectually, it’s an obvious thing. But in fact, it gets conflated with another meaning of failure, so when we grow up as kids, failing in school was a really bad thing.”

“Making something great is the goal.”

“Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil. They aren’t evil at all. They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new.”

“Our job is to protect our new ideas from being judges too quickly. Our job is to protect the new.”

“Rather than trying to prevent all errors, we should assume, as is almost always the case, that our people’s intentions are good and that they want to solve problems.”

“Seek out people who are willing to level with you, and when you find them, hold them close.”

“There are two parts of any failure: There is the event itself, with all its attendant disappointment, confusion, and shame, and then there is our reaction to it. It is the second part that we control.”

“There is nothing quite like ignorance combined with a driving need to succeed to force rapid learning.”

“This principle eludes most people, but it is critical: You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.”

“To be a truly creative company, you must start things that might fail.”

“To be wrong as fast as you can is to sign up for aggressive rapid learning.”

“We believe that ideas only become great when they are challenged and tested.”

“We must remember that failure gives us chances to grow, and we ignore those chances at our own peril.”

“We realized that our purpose was not merely to build a studio that made hit films but to foster a creative culture that would continually ask questions.”

“We start from the presumption that our people are talented and want to contribute. We accept that, without meaning to, our company is stifling that talent in myriad unseen ways. Finally, we try to identify those impediments and fix them.”

“We want people to feel like they can take steps to solve problems without asking permission.”

“What is the point of hiring smart people, we asked, if you don’t empower them to fix what’s broken?”

“When faced with a challenge, get smarter.”

“When it comes to creative inspiration, job titles and hierarchy are meaningless.”

“You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.”

“You don’t have to ask permission to take responsibility.”

“You’ll never stumble upon the unexpected if you stick only to the familiar.”

“Your employees are smart; that’s why you hired them. So treat them that way.”

Ed Catmull is the current President of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. His book, Creativity, Inc. includes a list of lessons learned over the years and his working relationship with the late Steve Jobs. In this video, Catmull offers a unique glimpse into his book.

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