A stranger, from the outside!!! Pixar and the Brand Me world…

Yes, continuing on from yesterdays post, I thought it would be worth talking about the Pixar a little more.


From the Mavericks at Work book I wrote about before, there was quite a good section which looked at some of the inner workings of the film company (valued at somewhere between 7-10 billion USD!).

“It’s fine to have wildly talented individuals. The real trick, the higher degree of difficulty, is to get a bunch of widely talented people to make productive partnerships, to produce great work”

Randy Nelson, Dean – Pixar University

Pixar seem to focus much more on the creation and preservation of partnerships than other film companies do. They employ their people, a marked difference from normal film companies that hire everyone on contract for different projects, then disperse them after the film is made. Normally, I prefer this kind of work style. I love the idea of swinging in and out of different, funky and creative projects. But, I gotta say, the Pixar model makes sense too. Because everyone is employed at Pixar, they can build on each project (film) they do. Team’s get used to working with each other, are obviously happy and consistently challenged, well paid and so choose to stay on and continue building great works.

It’s an interesting difference, and one I am always contemplating…Sheeds alluded to the benefits of people committing beyond contracts a few months ago…

“Part-time people, get part-time results”

Kevin Sheedy


Now, whilst I am a big fan (hell, I’m trying to live the brand me life!) of the project worker ideals, the thought does consistantly cross my mind that big things do tend to happen after a lot of effort and hard work being committed to achieve them. How do you juggle this tension between committing to a company or organization for a long period to achieve great stuff, and experiencing a great many different and varied projects by not-committing to anything?

Pixar vs Tom Peters??? Business Celebrity Guru Death match #1 Comment who you think would win 🙂

Greasing the Pole??? Leadership and having that "successful career"

Found a great article all, written by a guy taking a retrospective look at how his career progressed, verses his much more ‘networked focused’ co-worker. The article basically looks at the idea of substance, and I think highlights just what the better leaders of today have – a certain sense of humility and self-esteem derived from their own idea of success.

How would you rather follow?

P.s – I also think the best leaders, have a certain creative/dynamic charisma too…ultimate leader = Steve Jobs + Toby Ziegler?

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What I'm reading at the moment: Mavericks at Work

I thought I would post what I am reading at the moment, seeing as I suggested last post that I havn’t read the Craig Hassed book yet.

I’m currently reading Mavericks at Work: Why the most original minds in business win. The title is okay, if not a little wanky. But, the content is quite good. It is written by William Taylor and Polly LaBarre. Taylor, of course, is a cofounder of Fast Company and the founding editor, whilst LaBarre was a journalist for the funky business mag. As you can imagine – the content is very similar to the magazine, which is fantastic. Imagine some of the magazines best articles and themes, extrapolated and then discussed in more detail. It’s an excellent read so far.


One turn of phrase I would like to share, is the Rule of Crappy people. World Vision is looking for people right now, and as always, are looking for the best, so my head has been in the space of thinking ‘who might fit that role?’ Apparently, Starbucks came up with an idea where their staff carry with them a card with a free coffee on it and a private number, patched straight through to a Starbucks Talent Seeker, that they can give out to someone random they think has the Starbucks quality. Be it a great checkout chick or storeperson. Starbucks Big Cheifs rightly claim that they have 10.000 employees that are everywhere, and often better at recognising what it takes to be a Starbucks employee than most. The card allows people to call, get noticed, and then get tracked by Starbucks – there may not be a position yet, but the company ackmowledges that keeping in touch allows them to offer positions to talent first, instead of advertising. Cirque De Soliel has a beefed-up (scientific term) tracking system, which logs a database of 30,000 potential circus people. Each one is kept in touch with personally, and constantly invited to audition for different, specifically tailored roles.


A dream of mine, would be to see organisations such as World Vision act the same way. At the moment, there is a clear want to ‘follow a transparent’ process – which I completly understand and appluad. But, I think the process falls down because it only kicks into action when there is a need to fill a gap. People line up and volunteer at WV for years, just trying to get in to work for a company they have a real passion for. And, there are a number of incredibly talented people plying their trade here that will have very switched on friends and networks. Yet, there is no ‘Starbucks Card.’

Here is what I would do, putting on my ‘Head of People’ hat.

1) Create a role within the HR team dedicated to building a talent list, compiled from people either employed now/days gone of World Vision.

2) Create a Starbucks card type system, encouraging people to pass on to people who are ‘World Vision like.’ These people get direct access to te position created above.

3) Start a HR Blog, displaying all the positions WVA is currently trying to fill. This blog, moderated by the person created in #1, will answer questions about the roles, as well as questions about the org, and how people should best apply. This allows them to ENGAGE with people, rather than hope people carry out the incredibly arcane and transaction action of ‘sending in a resume.’ (Resume’s, and job-recruitment in general, have not changed since the days of the typewriter. Yes, we now have seek.com (hear me shudder), but that has only changed the method by which people submit their resumes. The game has not substantially changed in 50 years. sigh.

4) Ask new employees to provide details of their favourite co-workers from their past employees. This is a touch personal, but if you recruit talent, chances are they had a few kindred spirits wherever they came from. Get the logged, sign them up to the RSS for the job-blog, and then start havign conversations with them.

5) People share – this one, I’m claiming as my own. Non-profits, especially, lose good people to corporates because they can’t match the 1) diversity of work people get in larger, commercial companies and 2) the salaries. Yet, the skill set of the NGO class are highly relevant to todays commercial and corporate world (building grass-root networks, building campaigns, being entrepreneurial with small budgets and big objectives, creating communities and advocacy for a cause.) We shoudl staff share. Why, oh why, can’t Big Corp X share a FTE position with Big NGO Y? Telstra and WVA, share a marketing star??? The shared learning would be enormous, and the person in the position would develop a kick-arse skill set.

Just some thoughts – what are yours? How would you keep talent around? Anythign wrong with #1 thru 5?

Searching for Work – Does this exist?

So, with my contract at World Vision expiring shortly (September 28th, I believe) the time has come to begin searching around for other alternatives should they not have any more work for me. As I have begun my search, I have struggled to find any relevant search engines which allow me to better to find cool projects/companies looking for someone to be involved on a PT/contract basis. I hit upon this post at Freelance Switch http://freelanceswitch.com/finding/the-monster-list-of-freelancing-job-sites/ which has a massive list of such search engines. However, many of the sites here were for techies, creative’s or designers.

When I found the staid www.jobserve.com.au I was pleasantly surprise by the number of returns I got when searching based on words like ‘business case opportunity evaluation’. The next stage, however, broke me down again and reminded me why I hate web job engines generally, as well as the dam HR Recruitment companies which use them.

Most job posts DON’T TELL YOU WHO THE WORK IS WITH!!! Some do, and I bet if any serious research was carried out we would find more (and better quality) responses to a position posted by the company itself, rather than a HR Recruitment company. I automatically discard any position with the phrase “our client is, great opportunity to join a leading IT company“ etc etc largely because for me, the company and engagement is much more important than the role. If it was such a great opportunity, then there would be no qualms about publicising WHO the client was! This is why I hate www.seek.com.au type engines so much.


So I got to wondering – is there a site where jobs are posted strictly by the companies themselves? And on this site, can people comment about the posting, asking for more information about the role/company/wage/application periods? And if it doesn’t exist…why not!!! In a world where the Creative Class is utilising social networking more and more, and feels more inclined to comment and converse online, it makes sense that this kind of site would exist.

So, does anyone know if such a site exists?


Choosing the right project

I recently had the pleasure of being approached about being involved in another project with World Vision. This one came from the campaigns team, and involved thinking and playing a part in forming the strategy and potential tactics for their upcoming advocacy campaigns. It sounded fantastic – a bit of policy, stakeholder engagement, innovative thinking and generally thinking about the messages they were hoping to form over the next few years to help assist the world’s poor. Here’s the rub…I had already committed my time to the Biofuels and Diesel Project.

Choosing the right project to follow is, I’m quickly learning, like following Alice down the rabbit hole. pfd1573alice-down-the-rabbit-hole-disney-posters.jpg

I tend to go with my gut, and follow that dam rabbit as soon as he jumps. Soon, I’m falling down the path and have little hope of climbing back out. When making the decision on which path to take (or rabbit to follow) the first thing I asked myself was what I wanted to be known for. Do I want to be known as a World Vision employee? Or do I want to be known as a Biofuels guy? Or a bit of both? Or…what? After I had a bit of a think, I came to the conclusion that I would like to be known as someone who lived a bit of a varied life, and was able to bring to bear a variety of experiences and a bit of a different skill set to the table. Given that, what kind of projects did I want to have in my portfolio?

I answered, and had to subsequently turn down the fantastic opportunity with the campaigns team. I could not have delivered on that project, and still done everything else that I wanted to do (and was now committed to doing…there goes that rabbit). I was open, and honest, and let them know pretty much all of the above. After laying it out like that, and letting them know that I felt I couldn’t deliver and had no time the fall out was excellent and the relationship is still strong. I hope to work with them another time.

In the end – I’ve fallen for the rabbit with the entrepreneurial skills. I’m keen, pumped, and now working hard on making sure we can start up a very cool, very cutting edge biofuels company. In the end, deciding which projects to throw your weight behind is always tough. Making the choice though, honestly with yourself first and then the potential clients/partners second is a good start.