Community, Leadership

Remember to Change the World

Remember when you were in elementary school and wanted to be President, a firefighter, or in a similar public-serving profession? How good-willed, we were… So what changes as we get older? Or does it? I’m not talking about the effect of disappointed parents whose children did not become doctors or lawyers or scientists (though I am sure that this has an impact) – more so the result of the introspection one goes through thinking about one’s “purpose in life” (not to be confused with the question of the meaning of life).

Similar to the argument that Sir Ken Robinson gave with regard to creativity, this type of altruistic mentality seems to be pressured out of us as we get older. In our careers, it becomes all too easy to slip into the mindset of promotions, raises, and position as well as the power, prestige, or utility that comes with them. But these two goals need not be mutually exclusive, even (and I would argue especially) in a for-profit environment.

Consider the example of Apple (a previous employer of mine). Built very early into Apple’s OS were accessibility features that enabled individuals with special needs to use Apple products (later iOS, as well). These core features help break down societal barriers for certain individuals. Coca-Cola, a company that produces relatively simple products, completed a project in Dubai and in Pakistan and India focused on helping cultures and families connect. MasterCard (my current employer) leverages technology to open financial accessibility to those who previously had none or little, helping individuals and families do things that many (but not all) westerners take for granted. No doubt these projects and associated stories were beneficial to the core business of these organizations, as well.

All of these projects, technologies, and initiatives were not made in some corporate vacuum – they were done by individuals who realized that there were opportunities for corporate and social good. It can be easy to get caught up in day-to-day tasks, but from time-to-time it is important to remember and imagine the possibility of doing more for the greater benefit. Ample opportunities exist to make lives and societies better, but success requires people with the will to pursue them. Be one of those people.


Book Review: Creativity, Inc.

Let me begin by saying that I am thoroughly impressed by the way that Ed Catmull (with Amy Wallace) wrote this book. The anecdotal nature of Creativity, Inc. makes the reading highly enjoyable, and even emotional. But really, should we expect anything less from a co-founder of Pixar?

The story takes us through the origins and evolution of what would we would come to know as Pixar, from Lucasfilm to the stewardship of Steve Jobs and finally to Disney (everything is now Disney, in case you didn’t know). What Ed does an especially terrific job of doing is highlighting the internal struggle of individual and collective leadership at the company, and allows us as readers to understand the dynamics between those involved. While there are some parts of the novel that are somewhat superfluous or repetitive (one of the lessons of the book is to have a respect for candor), I consider myself a more informed organization leader now that I have read this book. The biggest takeaway I have from the memoir is the importance of candor. It is true that candor can sometimes be personally hurtful in the short term, but for long term success it is absolutely vital.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in organizational creativity and leadership. Now enjoy one of the many Pixar Shorts.

Have you read the book, or have insights into creativity enablement? Tweet at me with #creative, and let me know!