You already know who this post is about, even before you’ve started reading it
That’s because Steve Jobs really was a leader.
I may not have bought any of his products, or even agreed or liked his way of doing things (too locked-down, too expensive) but that’s not to say I didn’t have a lot of respect for him.
Clearly the animation landscape would be very different if Steve Jobs hadn’t taken a bit of a gamble back in the 1980s. Which is the reason for today’s post:
Who will lead us now?
Plenty of people are calling Steve a “visionary”. Yes, he had vision, but he was much more of a leader. He had the ability to envision things, but he also had a huge ability to get others to work towards that vision with passion and excitement.
That’s why Pixar is such a success. While Steve undoubtedly got a good pitch of sorts from Ed Catmull and John Lasseter, ultimately, he could see that the technology they were developing was irrelevant to the story potential that Lasseter offered the output. Steve guided them towards their first deal with Disney, and was instrumental in helping them re-negotiate it after the success of Toy Story.
Steve’s position on the board of the Walt Disney Company (and largest individual stock holder) ensured that that firm took a slightly different approach to online content than the other Hollywood studios. That’s no easy task.
As of right now, there is no one, clear individual who could be said to be a true leader within the animation community.
There are plenty of leaders such as Jeffrey Katzenberg and Fred Seibert and Ed Catmull is probably the closest thing to Jobs in light of his determination to see Pixar make animation instead of hardware. Although they are all leaders in a different capacity than Steve.
We need a leader because they can see the way forward. They may not know for certain where they are taking us, but at least they’re willing to take a bet on it. That can’t be said for the vast majority of people, which is why leaders are so rare.
A new leader will emerge, that is a certainty.
Until then, we’ll continue to inhabit the aimless space that’s left behind.