Episode #122: Take Company Culture to Infinity and Beyond with former Pixar CFO, Lawrence Levy

Lawrence Levy was the CFO of Pixar Animation Studios from 1994 through to 2001, so in Pixar terms, from Toy Story to Monsters Inc but maintained a Board role until the smash hit Cars in 2006.

Lawrence recently penned To Pixar and Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History, which was an Amazon Best Book of 2016 in Business & Leadership category. The book chronicles how Steve Jobs called Lawrence out of the blue and persuaded him to join Pixar and turnaround a company that was on the verge of failure.

Levy worked closely with Jobs and the Pixar team and implemented a roadmap that transformed the sleepy graphics art studio into one of Hollywood’s greatest success stories.

Today, after a career in Silicon Valley as a lawyer and business executive, Lawrence Levy is co-founder of Juniper Foundation and now writes and teaches on the topics of eastern philosophy and meditation. He is especially interested in the intersection of these ideas with the stresses of contemporary life and corporate culture.


Topics Discussed:

- how to balance financial objectives with creativity and innovation

- aligning vision with investor and stakeholder expectations

- creating the conditions to enable creativity

- performing scenario analysis to support innovation

- building in a buffer for creative mistakes

- why leadership is critical to maintaining team morale during longterm creative projects

- how to build a culture where people are free to make mistakes

- Pixar's 'braintrust': why truth serum is critical to breakthrough innovation

- how Toystory went through several script rewrites and Disney shutting down production before finally going live in 1995 and grossing $383M

- the challenges of getting Pixar to IPO and getting dropped "like a rock" by prominent investment bankers

- receiving a phone call from Steve Jobs in 1994 and being invited to join Pixar

- what state Pixar was in when joining the company

- what Steve Jobs was really like 

- how Steve Jobs took Lawrence's resignation to pursue eastern philosophy and spirituality

- Lawrence's work in bringing meditation into the corporate world

- how meditating can broaden and improve our experience of life and also perform better at work


Show Notes:

1) Levy's website: www.lawrencelevy.com

2) To Pixar and Beyond: https://amzn.to/2NecrJW

3) Juniper Foundation: www.juniperpath.org



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