We all have perks. One of mine is that I get to hang out at Pixar.
Pixar isn’t a building. It’s a campus. If there was a dream collage, Pixar is it.
Their movies define wonder. After one afternoon walking the campus I became more inspired with what happens in the corridors then what shows up on the screen.
Getting a job at Pixar is really hard, but what is even more surprising — getting fired at Pixar is even tougher.
This is not because Pixar is one big hippy commune. Pixar understands the power of the collaborative efforts of the team. Even the cooks at Cafe Luxo (their cafeteria) have appeared in the credits.
Everyone is in a constant state of learning.
This begins with Pixar University — a 6 week (shorter now) orientation program. Ongoing education and enrichment is nurtured. I showed up the day Cirque du Soleil was previewing parts of their new show in the lobby.
Pixar Animation Studios is the Everest for an animator. I wondered though, with over 2,000 employees aren’t there some slackers (I mean every organization has them – right)?
The answer is no. While Pixar has strict hiring standards and their orientation is impeccable, it is what happens when someone underperforms that shapes the culture — the team rallies. Instead of being isolated, supervisors and producers help you win.
Does anyone ever get fired? Yes. It’s called being un-castable. It happens when (after much patience and opportunity) the artist isn’t growing and no producer wants them on their movie. It’s rare and that is refreshing.
Do you want a Pixar culture?
- Have strict hiring standards. Don’t settle. You shouldn’t shop when you’re hungry — same thing applies when you hire. Don’t do it under pressure.
- You should have a systematized orientation. Orientation is not just to facts, but culture. You set expectations day one. There should be an ongoing development plan for your team. This is critical.
- Rally when someone is struggling. Address it early. If they fail, you’ve failed. If they choose to fail, you still failed.
- If you have provided all the necessary expectations, resources, and accountability it is time for you to release them — they are un-castable. You’re not helping them develop and they are taking a spot for someone else’s dream. Do it quickly and be generous. This was a mutual failure.