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Pixar president recalls a 'transformation' undergone by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
While Steve Jobs is famous for helping to turn Pixar into a legendary award winning animation studio, the experience of running Pixar also helped to change Jobs himself for the better, the studio's president reveals in a new book excerpt.


Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs, and John Lasseter.


Pixar Animation Studios President Ed Catmull talks about the relationship between Jobs and the studio in his upcoming book "Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration." An excerpt from the title was published on Friday by Gizmodo, and it reveals a side of Jobs that most people never saw.

Catmull worked with Jobs for more than 25 years, and believes that his time at Pixar helped to fundamentally change him as a person. Specifically, Catmull said the experience made him "more sensitive not only to other people's feelings but also to their value as contributors to the creative process."

The Pixar president revealed that Jobs was especially proud of the studio because its movies, which "dig for deeper truths," will live forever. Jobs was said to admit that even well-designed Apple products "eventually all ended up in landfills," but a well-made movie could live on.

"While he never lost his intensity, we watched him develop the ability to listen," Catmull said. "More and more, he could express empathy and caring and patience. He became truly wise. The change in him was real, and it was deep."

Catmull also revealed that Jobs would give advice at Pixar in a humble fashion, noting up front that he was "not really a filmmaker" and that people could choose to "ignore everything" that he said. When Jobs's take was sought, he would focus on the problems rather than the filmmakers.

"You couldn't dismiss Steve," he said. "Every film he commented on benefited from his insight."




Those skills developed over the years, Catmull said, as the Apple co-founder learned to "read the room" and have the greatest impact on people. That's not to say that Jobs "mellowed" in his old age -- Catmull argues that the transformation of Jobs was an "active one."

"He continued to engage; he just changed the way he went about it," he said.

Catmull is the co-founder of Pixar, along with Jobs and John Lasseter. His new book "Creativity, Inc." will be released next Tuesday, and it is available now for preorder.
post #2 of 29

Jobs' unique talents were undeniable, but although perhaps changed for the better his character flaws were also undeniable. I'm really glad I was alive at the same time as Jobs 'cause I got to witness a great innovator and businessman and got to use products that certainly wouldn't have existed without him. He no doubt influenced and changed the world of products, and to a certain extent our lives too. But by golly I know I never would have been able to worked for him. Maybe that's just me.

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #3 of 29
Just preordered on iBooks... Looks like a good read.
post #4 of 29
I still wonder why Apple has never gotten into content creation. They provide all the tools and services artists need. And apparently Jobs really nurtured creativity at Pixar so I'm not sure what held them back then or now.
post #5 of 29

Pixar is one of the greatest companies of the modern era.  I look forward to reading this book.

post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by starbird73 View Post

Just preordered on iBooks... Looks like a good read.


I'm excited for the book. Less for the info on Jobs but more on how Pixar works. There was an excerpt a few weeks ago that talked about how the meetings run when the brain trust get together to give notes on the films in development

post #7 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
. . . 
Catmull worked with Jobs for more than 25 years, and believes that his time at Pixar helped to fundamentally change him as a person. Specifically, Catmull said the experience made him "more sensitive not only to other people's feelings but also to their value as contributors to the creative process."
. . . 
"While he never lost his intensity, we watched him develop the ability to listen," Catmull said. "More and more, he could express empathy and caring and patience. He became truly wise. The change in him was real, and it was deep."

 

All of this was completely missed by Isaacson.  Something similar from Jobs' NEXT years would be valuable too.  

post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by wigby View Post

I still wonder why Apple has never gotten into content creation. They provide all the tools and services artists need. And apparently Jobs really nurtured creativity at Pixar so I'm not sure what held them back then or now.

Focus, I guess. Maybe after the new headquarters are up and running, and the Apple-esque data network is built out (as far as geosynchronous orbit, if necessary).

They do need to find a way to make themselves better liked by the world at large, like Disney and Pixar. I have problems with both of those, however. So even better than them, I would say. They're going to have to hire a Shakespeare, a Tolstoy, maybe a Lao Tzu.
post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by eponymous View Post
 

 

All of this was completely missed by Isaacson.  Something similar from Jobs' NEXT years would be valuable too.  

I would love to read a well-researched book about NeXT.

post #10 of 29

Ed Catmull gave the commencement address at my graduation. I really enjoyed what he had to say. I thought it was practical, applicable, and extremely interesting. I couldn't have wished for a better speaker-- and I am very excited to read this book.

post #11 of 29
In other words, he learned how to become a more effective jerk 1wink.gif

I'm kidding.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #12 of 29
Does anyone else pronounce Gizmodo as Jizz-modo? It seems appropriate sometimes. 1smile.gif

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by wigby View Post

I still wonder why Apple has never gotten into content creation. They provide all the tools and services artists need. And apparently Jobs really nurtured creativity at Pixar so I'm not sure what held them back then or now.

Focus?

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave MacLachlan View Post
 

I would love to read a well-researched book about NeXT.

 
It wasn't that well researched, and very (very) negative (I threw the book away), but it contains information from that era:
ISBN 0689121350 Steve Jobs & the NeXT Big Thing
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave MacLachlan View Post

I would love to read a well-researched book about NeXT.

What about The Second Coming of Steve Jobs by Alan Deutschman? It focuses on the wilderness years and the return to Apple.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #16 of 29

Apple

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


Focus?

Apple has always been able to focus on multiple things they are good at all at once including hardware, software, services and retail. And their competition doesn't seem to have too much difficulty at it either. When they dropped the "computer" from their name, they weren't sending a signal that they would just be focusing on a few consumer products for a decade. At least that's not the message I got at the time.

post #17 of 29

I'm hoping that reading this book will help me become better at understanding how to support others involved in the creative process, particularly those who are annoying! :lol:

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

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V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

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Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

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post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyb0731 View Post


I agree. A fascinating company. Excited to learn more.

I'm excited for the book. Less for the info on Jobs but more on how Pixar works. There was an excerpt a few weeks ago that talked about how the meetings run when the brain trust get together to give notes on the films in development
post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Does anyone else pronounce Gizmodo as Jizz-modo? It seems appropriate sometimes. 1smile.gif

 

Definitely.  

post #20 of 29
Having been at ILM, I applied and was a more-expensive runner up for a Prod. Mgr. job on Monsters, Inc. %u2026 they went with another guy from LA.

That would have been as amazing as being at ILM!
post #21 of 29
“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.”-Steve Jobs
post #22 of 29
I believe it was the book "Icon" that had a lot of interesting stories about Steve's activities at Pixmar and about the company itself.
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeSmoke View Post

“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.”-Steve Jobs

Hey, my favorite quote, p. 41 in the Isaacson hardcover.
post #24 of 29

same art they using for the Pixar concert here in NYC - my girlfriend just got us tickets last week... time to get the book also

 

http://www.pixar.com/about/Pixar-In-Concert

 

 

post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by wigby View Post

I still wonder why Apple has never gotten into content creation. They provide all the tools and services artists need. And apparently Jobs really nurtured creativity at Pixar so I'm not sure what held them back then or now.

 

Apple has always said that if they can't do something better than what's out there, they won't do it.

post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by knowitall View Post
 
 
It wasn't that well researched, and very (very) negative (I threw the book away), but it contains information from that era:
ISBN 0689121350 Steve Jobs & the NeXT Big Thing

 

I think I recall that book; you're right ... it wasn't very good. That must be why I had to struggle to remember it! :)

post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by eponymous View Post
 

 

All of this was completely missed by Isaacson.  Something similar from Jobs' NEXT years would be valuable too.  

Possibly Catmull's conclusions are the benefit of hindsight over the three years or more when he talked with Isaacson. It would be interesting to learn from Catmull whether his current perspectives about Jobs had fully developed in his own mind when Isaacson was researching his book in 2010 and early 2011.

I admit to being a Fanatical Moderate. I Disdain the Inane. Vyizderzominymororzizazizdenderizorziz?

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I admit to being a Fanatical Moderate. I Disdain the Inane. Vyizderzominymororzizazizdenderizorziz?

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post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by wigby View Post

I still wonder why Apple has never gotten into content creation. They provide all the tools and services artists need. And apparently Jobs really nurtured creativity at Pixar so I'm not sure what held them back then or now.

 

Completely different skill set, far riskier investments and very small margins.    With some movies earning a $ billion in worldwide revenue, you'd think studios would be highly profitable, but they're not. 

 

But if Apple did get involved in content creation and used their own tools in the process, I think we'd see far better applications.   Apple tends to be a bit arrogant and frequently doesn't understand professional workflow (Final Cut Pro being just one example of that).   If they actually used the tools themselves, they would have a much better understanding of customer needs.

 

In my consulting work, the developers always balk at UI changes I request.   But when I make them use the app exactly the same way a client would, they finally understand that their products can be tedious and non-intutitive to use.  

post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by wigby View Post

I still wonder why Apple has never gotten into content creation. They provide all the tools and services artists need. And apparently Jobs really nurtured creativity at Pixar so I'm not sure what held them back then or now.

Focus.

 

Edit: I see that several here wrote the same thing. Great minds think alike!

 

Also some good points arguing that Apple should get into content creation, as it would help them to improve their applications. There is a time and a place. No-one could say that Apple's intense focus on a few products hasn't served them stunningly well over the past seventeen years. Now that the company has become so much richer, it may be that they could expand into content creation without letting the focus suffer. But, I think that up to now, one of their great advantages has been its neutrality. The danger of starting to directly compete is that it can threaten negotiations with other content creators.


Edited by Benjamin Frost - 4/6/14 at 3:04am
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