I started reading To Pixar and Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History yesterday and although it contained a wealth of technical business knowledge, the way Lawrence Levy wrote it made the book an unputdownable.
The book tells the story of how Levy joined Pixar as CFO, then details how, as the creatives were putting the finishing touches onto Toy Story, the executives were working towards an IPO. That IPO paved the way for Pixar to renegotiate its contract with Disney, which later acquired Pixar.
Although it’s been 24 years since Toy Story was released, I am still captivated by it and when Toy Story 3 came out in 2010, I still went to the cinema to watch it.
I had to google the release dates because in my mind, these stories are timeless. These stories were part of my childhood… and they’re still the movies I go to when I’m down, when I need inspiration, when I want to feel that magic again.
Levy’s book captures the magic of Pixar — the storytelling and creative parts, as well as the business and finance aspects. If you want to practice wild magic, you have to find a way to make it sustainable.
This book is about storytelling, yes. But it’s also a solid business book that talks about negotiation techniques and assessing product viability and things to consider when drafting legal documents. It’s an amazing primer for anyone who has big dreams for their business.
After finishing it at 4-ish this morning, I went to add it to my Goodreads and realised that it’s been on my Want to Read list since 2016.
At first, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t read it sooner. But I’m a different person now than I was in 2016. Would I have derived as much value then as I have now? Probably not.
As I am currently pursuing my creative goals, while ensuring sustainability, this book was a much needed resource at this particular period of my life.
Balance seems to be the central theme in my life right now and this book was yet another reminder.
At the end of the book, Levy wrote about The Middle Way and how it is “a dance between order and freedom, bureaucracy and spirit, efficiency and artistry”.
“Every film that Pixar made struggled with this tension and ended up better for it.”