For almost 30 years, Pixar has been in the business of entrancing audiences with gorgeous films that seem to be so real and tangible that you can reach out and touch the very characters on the screen. And while Pixar will always be renowned for its ability to visually-wow viewers, it would be foolish to ignore the stories and plots behind these popular films. There are so many valuable takeaways, including plenty of lessons for entrepreneurs and business people.
1. People will try to take credit for your work.
If you haven’t seen Ratatouille, do yourself a favor and watch it. It’s funny, creative and actually pretty captivating. However, there are also some very real lessons in the movie.
Remy is a rat who happens to have a knack for cooking. In fact, he’s really talented. He meets a man named Linguini (funny, right?) who doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. Long story short, the two devise a plan in which Remy will hide in Linguini’s hat and help him become a great chef. Linguini ultimately becomes a really talented chef, enjoys the perks that come along with that and takes credit for everything.
The moral of the story is that successful people always encounter what we’ll call “clingers.” These are people who try to take credit for your work, even when they had very little to do with it. It’s important that you know when to speak up and when to be quiet, as there are times for both.
2. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Have you ever thought about how strange the group of characters in Monster’s Inc. are? It’s a motley crew of monsters and children. There’s not a normal looking character in the bunch. Yet, somehow they all get along.
What’s your first reaction when you encounter someone who’s totally different than you? Do you immediately clam up or shut down? Do you attack them or call out their differences? Diversity in the workplace is a very positive thing. In fact, businesses would fail if everyone was the same. Different people bring different ideas and styles to the table. Embrace strange ideas, foreign concepts and unique people. You never know what’s really behind the cover.
3. You can’t always play it safe.
Finding Nemo is one of everyone’s favorite Pixar films. It’s one of those rare movies that both children and adults can laugh along with. But perhaps the most important lesson to be gleaned from this movie is that you can’t always play it safe. Yes, you may save yourself from some hurt, but you won’t enjoy the excitement and adventure that’s waiting for you in the world.
As an entrepreneur, safety is your worst enemy. If you’re trying to be comfortable and secure, you’ve chosen the wrong lifestyle. Like Nemo, there comes a time when you have to be adventurous and take a chance. It won’t always be easy, but you’ll learn a lot more about yourself.
4. Business relationships are critically important.
It’s not what you know, but who you know. How many times have you heard this statement? Well, the reason it’s so often repeated is that it’s so true. You can have all the knowledge in the world, but it’s pretty useless without the right connections. If Pixar movies have taught us anything, it’s that friendships and relationships are crucial to success.
Think about all of the great Pixar tandems, including Buzz and Woody, Nemo and Dory, and Mike and Sully (just to name a few). What would one of these characters be without the other? Business relationships are extremely important. If you want to succeed, you have to partner with people who will push you, encourage you, and cover for you. That’s a lesson Pixar has done a great job of instilling in us.
5. Face-to-face communication is important.
In Wall-E we learn about the power of face-to-face communication. Even in the digital age when so much of our conversations take place over the phone, via text, through email, or in chat rooms, nothing is more important than face-to-face communication.
As an entrepreneur, there comes a time when you need to put down the phone, log off the computer, and meet with someone in person. Make personal connections a priority and you’ll see fantastic results.
6. Just be yourself.
How many times in Pixar movies does the protagonist try to change him or herself in an effort to conform to the situation around them? It happens in almost every one of the films. Ultimately, though, the character realizes that they are who they are and that there’s not point in changing to please others.
This message translates over to entrepreneurship. Stop trying to be who others expect you to be. If that’s your desire, start climbing the corporate ladder. In corporate America, you’ll get molded into the type of person that your company wants you to be. However, as an entrepreneur, you have the freedom to be yourself. It’s your career, your decisions, and your choices.
Never tune out or you may miss some of life’s greatest lessons. Even something as insignificant as watching a Pixar movie can leave you with valuable takeaways. Hopefully you’ve learned something from these six lessons, as plenty of other entrepreneurs already have.