44 Awesome Quotes from Creativity, Inc

Ed Catmull is a computer scientist and current President of Pixar Animation Studios. Contributing to many developments in computer graphics, Catmull has a long list of creative animation movie titles under his belt. With a degree from the University of Utah and authored book under his belt, many great pieces of advice has been shared over the year. Here is a look at some of the best Ed Catmull quotes ever recorded.

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

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

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

“But I should caution that if you seek to plot out all your moves before you make them—if you put your faith in slow, deliberative planning in the hopes it will spare you failure down the line—well, you’re deluding yourself. For one thing, it’s easier to plan derivative work—things that copy or repeat something already out there. So if your primary goal is to have a fully worked out, set-in-stone plan, you are only upping your chances of being unoriginal.”

“By ignoring my fear, I learned that the fear was groundless. Over the years, I have met people who took what seemed the safer path and were the lesser for it…I had taken a risk, and that risk yielded that greatest reward…Always take a chance on better, even if it seems threatening.”

“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.”

“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 by out-thinking it—dooms you to fail.”

“For many people, changing course is also a sign of weakness, tantamount to admitting that you don’t know what you are doing. This strikes me as particularly bizarre—personally, I think the person who can’t change his or her mind is dangerous. Steve Jobs was known for changing his mind instantly in the light of new facts, and I don’t know anyone who thought he was weak.”

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

“I believe the best managers acknowledge and make room for what they do not know—not just because humility is a virtue but because until one adopts that mindset, the most striking breakthroughs cannot occur. I believe that managers must loosen the controls, not tighten them. They must accept risk; they must trust the people they work with and strive to clear the path for them; and always, they must pay attention to and engage with anything that creates fear. Moreover, successful leaders embrace the reality that their models may be wrong or incomplete. Only when we admit what we don’t know can we ever hope to learn it.”

“I tend to flood and freeze up if I’m feeling overwhelmed. When this happens, it’s usually because I feel like the world is crashing down and all is lost. One trick I’ve learned is to force myself to make a list of what’s actually wrong. Usually, soon into making the list, I find I can group most of the issues into two or three larger all-encompassing problems. So it’s really not all that bad. Having a finite list of problems is much better than having an illogical feeling that everything is wrong.”

“If we make room for it instead of shunning it, the unknown can bring inspiration and originality.”

“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 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.”

“Making something great is the goal.”

“Making the process better, easier, and cheaper is an important aspiration, something we continually work on—but it is not the goal. 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 judged too quickly. Our job is to protect the new.”

“Randomness is not just inevitable; it is part of the beauty of life. Acknowledging it and appreciating it helps us respond constructively when we are surprised.”

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

“The system is tilted to favor the incumbent. The challenger needs support to find its footing. And protection of the new—of the future, not the past— must be a conscious effort.”

“The way I see it, my job as a manager is to create a fertile environment, keep it healthy, and watch for the things that undermine it. I believe, to my core, that everybody has the potential to be creative—whatever form that creativity takes—and that to encourage such development is a noble thing.”

“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 meet unexpected problems with unexpected responses.”

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

“What interests me is the number of people who believe that they have the ability to drive the train and who think that this is the power position—that driving the train is the way to shape their companies’ futures. The truth is, it’s not. Driving the train doesn’t set its course. The real job is laying the track.”

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

“What makes Pixar special is that we acknowledge we will always have problems, many of them hidden from our view; that we work hard to uncover these problems, even if doing so means making ourselves uncomfortable; and that, when we come across a problem, we marshal all of our energies to solve it. This, more than any elaborate party or turreted workstation, is why I love coming to work in the morning. It is what motivates me and gives me a definite sense of mission.”

“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.”

Here is a unique look into creativity with the co-founder and President of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, Ed Catmull. Catmull takes some time to discuss his new book ‘Creativity, Inc.’

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