6 Lessons Pixar Can Teach Us About Company Learning


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6 Lessons Pixar Can Teach Us About Company Learning

Written on Mar 23, 2017 4:42:36 PM, by Cezara Pralea

Admit it, you have cried during basically every Pixar movie. When Andy gave up Woody in Toy Story 3. When Carl and Ellie share their last words in Up. When Wall-e longingly watches clips of old romantic musicals. When Sully says goodbye to Boo. We’ll stop there. We actually want you to read the rest of this article.

The point is, Pixar movies are powerful. They can teach us something about life and learning. These lessons can even be applied to company learning.

Also read: 11 Best TEDTalks About Company Learning

Inside Out

Alright everyone, fresh start! We're gonna have a good day, which will turn into a good week, which will turn into a good year, which will turn into a good life!


While Joy may be a little too happy for some people, she does have a point about optimism. Research in positive psychology has shown that doubt and pessimism can slow learning, confidence, using your strengths, and optimism can improve your learning speed.


If you focus on what you left behind, you will never be able to see what lies ahead.

Chef Gusteau

One of the many things that Ratatouille gets right is that the past is something that we can look to to help us move forward. Many experts agree that for learning to result in some sort of change, we have to transfer it to our lives. Learning transfer, as it is called, helped Linguini become a better chef. Remy, the rat, helps teach Linguini, the human chef, how to cook by staying under his hat and pulling his hair to control his movements.

While we don’t encourage pulling your coworkers’ hair, we do think it’s a great idea to work together to help people learn and transfer learning into their jobs.

Finding Nemo

Just keep swimming.


Dory’s famous line says it all, just keep swimming, or learning, in our case. Just like Dory encourages Marlin to keep swimming in order to save his son, Nemo, we feel the same about learning. It might get tough sometimes, but learning is a lifelong journey.

Continuous learning is what many people need and look for in order to stay at the top of their game. 

Also read: How The Individual Learning Plan Benefits Everyone

Monsters, Inc.

You and I are a team. Nothing is more important than our friendship.


While not all coworkers have to be friends like Mike and Sully, Mike does have a point. Teams are important and team members can learn from each other. Team learning and peer learning are great ways to build better teams, learn faster, and increase productivity.

The Incredibles

I never look back, darling. It distracts me from the now.

Edna Mode

In The Incredibles, fashion designer extraordinaire, Edna Mode, made a fatal mistake long ago: she made superhero suits with capes. Capes were a mistake, but as she says, she never looks back. She knows they were a mistake, but they inspired her to make better suits.

When we learn, we will make mistakes. As leaders and managers, we should encourage and accept mistakes, not punish them. Mistakes are what drives creativity and innovation.


Adventure is out there!


Learning is everywhere. And learning should be an adventure. Wherever we look and wherever we are we have the opportunity to learn informally. And this also means that learning should be fun. What is an adventure if it doesn’t have some fun and excitement.

The final few quotes to inspire you are from Ed Catmull’s book, Creativity, Inc. He is a computer scientist and the current president of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios. In his book he explains what is takes to run a creative business that is a leader in creativity and innovation.


Always try to hire people who are smarter than you.  Always take a chance on better, even if it seems a potential threat.

If there are people in your organization who feel they are not free to suggest ideas, you lose.  Do not discount ideas from unexpected sources.  Inspiration can, and does, come from anywhere.

Trust doesn’t mean that you trust that someone won’t screw up – it means you trust them even when they do screw up.

Failure isn’t a necessary evil.  In fact, it isn’t evil at all.  It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.

When looking to hire people, give their potential to grow more weight than their current skill level.  What they will be capable of tomorrow is more important than what they can do today.

As you can see, the way Pixar operates comes through their films. The way they do business and their culture of learning translates into how they write stories and the message they deliver to viewers.

I hope the quotes from his book will inspire you to lead a business full of creativity, innovation, fun, and what Pixar does best: heart. 

Cezara Pralea
Cezara is a Business Development Manager for Teamfluent. She is also a Jedi writer and a passionate learner, always on the lookout for the next life-changing book.