Why did Steve Jobs hire me at Pixar?

In 1999, director Brad Bird’s film “The Iron Giant” appeared in theaters.

It was a commercial failure, costly An estimated 70 million dollars to earn only $23 million at the worldwide box office. The experience reportedly left Bird wondering if he was cut out to make it into the film industry. He had no idea that someone else had seen the movie, and thought it contained enough creative promise to change the entire preeminent animation studio.

That person: Steve Jobs, who was the CEO of Pixar Animation Studios at the time.

After a flop that was threatening his career, Bird was hired by Jobs and Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull to write and direct a movie called Incredibles. The film went on to win several Academy Awards, but at the time, there was no guarantee.

“They were actively picking a guy to come up with a big flop,” Beard said on the 2019 “WorkLife with Adam Grant” podcast. They felt that we were in danger of falling into certain habits because we had the same group doing things…but we wanted to change things up. “

It was particularly unusual because Pixar was already successful. By 1999, the studio had already released “Toy Story”, “A Bug’s Life” and “Toy Story 2” and appeared towards the end of that year.

Jobs and Catmull told Bird that they hired him because the “iron giant” showed a determination to find new ways of telling stories, Bird recalls. And adding a new sound to the room can help prevent the rest of the team from falling back on their laurels.

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He noted that Bird’s promise to make a better movie with half the time and money compared to other animated films didn’t hurt either.

The problem: Once Baird was hired, the studio said its expectations for the “Incredibles” movie were actually unrealistic. He and producer John Walker said on the podcast that he was told the film would take nearly a decade and $500 million to produce.

So, Bird sets out to hunt down Pixar’s “Black Sheep” – employees whose risky ideas have been overlooked in the past. “I want people who are disgruntled because they have a better way of doing things and are having a hard time finding a way,” Bird said.

Then alone against a common enemy: the status quo. “Nobody thinks we can make that happen,” Bird told the team.

Some experts call this method of stimulation the “weak effect.”

In 2017, Researchers from Coastal Carolina University She found that novice or overlooked people often had an advantage: despite their lack of resources and control, they had a “strong drive to gain something, rather than keep something”.

The study suggests that rather than viewing their shortcomings “as an obstacle, attempts by vulnerable people to increase this control may have positive effects on creativity” and problem-solving.

In the case of Pixar, the Bird team was able to overcome the problems of having to hire advanced animators or invest in expensive new technology by creating their own computer-generated animation developments.

“Incredibles” It ended up costing $92 million. It grossed over $631 billion at the worldwide box office after its 2004 release. Bird Gold To produce more films with Pixar, including another Academy Award winning film, Ratatouille.

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Beard said having a vulnerable mindset is beneficial — and a good source of motivation.

“Doing a really good job is hard work,” Bird said. “If you’re doing it right, you’re kind of an underdog.” “You have to picture something so elusive.”

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