My guest on this podcast episode, Matthew Luhn, worked for over twenty years at Pixar – helping create the stories for some of the most successful animated films in history, including: Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Cars, UP, and Finding Nemo.
Today, he is a keynote speaker and consultant to some of most influential businesses and brands in the world like Apple, Charles Schwab, Google, Adidas, Disney and many others. These companies contact him when they want to know how to inspire creativity and innovation internally as well as how to make better connections with their customers. Matthew’s unique story creation experience with Pixar, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), and The Simpsons, along with his anybody can succeed attitude, make his “Story for Business” seminars and workshops a sought after experience.
With his father’s encouragement, Matthew attended the California Institute of the Arts instead of running the family’s popular toy store business. His father exposed him to obscure animation festivals and enriched him with a “there is no such thing as failing” attitude. At CalArts, he focused on learning everything he could. His first-year final was a short film, which got the attention of the creators of the Simpsons. They offered him a job as an animator but while working there he realized what he really loved was making people feel something. So, he went back to CalArts to study story creation.
His second student film caught the interest a small company named Pixar. He had seen some of Pixar’s animated shorts and was anxious to say yes to a job offer from them working on what was going to be with the first CGI feature-length animated movie, Toy Story. At the time, he did not realize he had agreed to a job as an animator even though his heart was in story creation. Disney decided to put the project on hold for a few months, so Matthew started freelancing doing storyboard work. When Pixar contacted him again they offered him a position on the story team and he never looked back.
How the Power of Story is Helping Businesses
Matthew is enjoying this second chapter of his life story by sharing his experience. He shares the tips and techniques of creating a great story with marketing organizations who benefit by using a story to make their customers feel something. Business leaders use his teachings to create a culture which inspires creativity and innovation and how to use collected data to make better connections with their audiences.
Creative Business Culture
Matthew learned a lot working on the Simpsons and at ILM in the early part of his career, and, of course, being at Pixar for over 20 years. He says that in those environments, they didn’t set out to create a “creative culture” per se, they just allowed people to be themselves, have fun, and create – without too much pressure or stress. He believes that some of the things his dad taught him as a kid are the key elements in allowing creativity to flow organically in business.
What does Bring Your Whole Self to Work Mean to Matthew?
Matthew says that being true to himself and the people he works while knowing that it is ok to fail is what bringing your whole self to work means to him.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”- Steve Jobs
“Working on the Simpsons in the 90’s was a completely creative environment. There were no adults.” @MatthewLuhnClick to tweet