How fully I recommend this book: 10/10
Lesson 1: Learn to see clearly.
Great visual artists capture what they truly see (shape, color, etc.) before their brain tells them what they’re supposed to see.
The rest of us only capture our broad mental models of what we see, which explains why I still draw people as stick figures.
So: To see clearly, set aside preconceptions.
Or take an art class (it’s in my bucket list).
Lesson 2: Getting the team right is the precursor to getting the project right.
I’ve learned this through experience!
When the team is right for a project, regardless of challenges, the project comes out great, and it’s a joy to work on.
When the team is wrong, not so much.
Lesson 3: Protect the Baby from the Beast.
The Beast is external pressure, and the Baby is a new idea or project.
“Protect new ideas from those who don’t understand that for greatness to emerge, there must be phases of not-so-greatness.”
Lesson 4: Before communicating, take the elevator.
Being a communicator is like taking the elevator from floor to floor in a big building.
Take the elevator and meet each person based on what they need in the moment and how they like to communicate.
Lesson 5: “Always take a chance on better, even if it seems threatening.”
Try to work with or hire people who are smarter than you, because making the work better is more important than fear.
The best leaders know this, and the worst leaders don’t. Let’s strive for the best!
Lesson 6: Quality is the best business plan.
“Quality is a prerequisite and a mindset you must have before you decide what you are setting out to do.”
And it matters more than most other parts of a business plan!
Lesson 7: Be wrong as fast as you can.
Overplanners just take longer to be wrong.
So make a choice and walk the path. It’s better than staying paralyzed. You can’t lose: If you’re right, great, and if you’re wrong, you learn a lot, you didn’t waste time, and you can redirect your efforts.
Lesson 8: Make something you like, and others may like it, too.
Focus on making creative work you’re proud of! If you do, others may like it, too. And if they don’t, you still get to be proud of what you did.
Lesson 9: If you get the story right, the polish isn’t as important.
The HBO series Medici: The Magnificent doesn’t have the greatest visual polish, but the writing and acting are so incredible, that it doesn’t matter.
On the other hand, the last season of the HBO series Game of Thrones has stunning visuals, but inconsistent writing and acting, and it feels off throughout.
Ed Catmull and Pixar got it right with this lesson!
Lesson 10: A lesson from Japanese manufacturing.
Every employee is empowered to find and fix problems.
No one has to ask for permission to take responsibility.
Lesson 11: In creative inspiration, job titles and hierarchy are meaningless.
Yes! Inspiration can come from anywhere. Create environments that allow for it to be shared.
Lesson 12: Seek to understand those who disagree with you.
“There is nothing quite as effective, when it comes to shutting down alternative viewpoints, as being convinced you are right.”
Lesson 13: Potential is more important than current skill-level.
Remember this when hiring.
More importantly: Remember this when evaluating yourself. Where you can be (and how to get there) is more important than where you are now!
Lesson 14: Trust your storytelling instincts.
Toy Story almost didn’t happen because a studio executive gave the Pixar storytellers useless notes that made the story bad, and almost killed the project.
Thankfully, the Pixar storytellers realized that their instincts were right, not that of a studio executive who was great at their job but had zero experience being an artist.
Lesson 15: The good stuff can hide the bad stuff.
The problem with good results is that they can often hide bad processes.
Focus less on outcome, and more on processes. If you get the processes right and maintain clarity in your goals, the results will come.
Lesson 16: Good management takes the long view and cares for their people.
If you are considering working in an environment that encourages or prizes workaholism that costs workers their health: Run!
Lesson 17: “Good notes are specific.”
“I don’t like that piano part” is not a good note.
“The piano part feels a bit slow to me. Is there a way we can give it more movement?” is a good note.
“I’d love for the listener to want to jump out of their seat and dance! How can we make the piano achieve that for us?” is a great note!
Lesson 18: “Good leaders make sure words remain attached to the meanings and ideals they represent.”
The people who most often repeat words like “diversity,” “tolerance,” and “equality” seem to be the people farthest removed from the meanings and ideals of those words.
We can do better! Let’s make sure we honor words and what they’re meant to represent.
Lesson 19: Design your environment to match your work.
As of this writing, I keep my piano right by my bed, with sheet music right on its music rest. This ensures I play every single day, and it’s easy to do so, and I enjoy it. Environment matters, especially when it comes to creativity.