Tag: lesson

You can take a key business lesson from the creation of Disney’s biggest hit in recent history

elsa and anna huggingWhen I cried at the end of “Frozen,” it wasn’t just because I was so moved by the unconventional love story.

I was frustrated, too, by the idea that I’d never be as smart as the creative team that had produced what would go on to become the highest-grossing animated film in history.

A prince who’s the (spoiler alert) bad guy! Sisters who (double spoiler alert) save each other! I could have thought of that. But I hadn’t.

So I was simultaneously shocked and heartened to hear Charles Duhigg’s take on the film when we spoke this week: “It’s not that clever and original.”

Duhigg is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and author of the new book “Smarter Faster Better,” about the science of productivity. He devotes a chunk of the book to breaking down the creative process behind “Frozen,” and argues that anyone can use the same system that worked for Disney.

Duhigg told me that “Frozen” only seems clever and original because it “takes old ideas and pushes them together in new ways.” And that, he suggests, is a hallmark of creativity.

After the “Frozen” team’s initial idea bombed when they showed it to a preliminary audience of Disney employees, they were forced to go back to the drawing board. Specifically, Duhigg said, they went back to “things we know are true and real.”

Those things turned out to be princesses — something Disney has a near-century of experience with — and relationships between sisters — something that was especially important to Jennifer Lee, who joined the “Frozen” team as a writer and later became a director.

What if they made a movie about two princess sisters who had a complicated relationship and ended up rescuing each other from trouble? Bam.

elsa disney frozenBut by the time this realization hit, there was just over a year left to finish the entire movie, and the team was understandably frazzled.

Duhigg told me that such uncertainty can be a good thing — and that it’s part of the creative process.

In the book, he writes: “Recognize that the panic and stress you feel as you try to create isn’t a sign that everything is falling apart. Rather, it’s the condition that helps make us flexible enough to seize something new. Creative desperation can be critical; anxiety is what often pushes us to see old ideas in new ways.”

Ultimately, Duhigg told me, “creativity isn’t about people being creative. It’s about having a creative system.” That means anyone can learn to be creative if only they embrace some of creativity’s core components: uncertainty and new perspectives.

In other words, we all have a shot at becoming the brains behind the next “Frozen,” if as Duhigg writes, “we’re willing to embrace that desperation and upheaval and try to see our old ideas in new ways.”

SEE ALSO: How one man used a simple strategy from Toyota to fix a problem he faced every day

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here’s when it’s smart to procrastinate

Read More

Chelsea Handler says she learned her most important career lesson while waitressing in her 20s

chelsea handlerChelsea Handler is wildly successful.

In 2006, at age 31, the New Jersey native got her own talk show on the E! network; she’s authored five New York Times bestsellers; she has landed spots on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 and Power Women lists, and was named one of Time’s Most Influential People in 2012.

Most recently, the millionaire comedian and actress explored racism, drugs, marriage, and Silicon Valley in the four-part Netflix docuseries Chelsea Does.”

How did she accomplish all this — and more — by age 40?

She showed up … for almost everything.

In a recent post for LinkedIn‘s latest editorial package, “How I Launched My Career,” Handler, now 41, says she learned the importance of showing up while waitressing in her early 20s. 

I was never the best waitress, but I was always the person people called when they needed a shift covered because I would always say yes,” she writes.

“Whether that was a result of wanting to be liked from years of rejection in high school, or whether it was wanting to be dependable and reliable after years of being the opposite, I just wanted people to feel that they could count on me,” she says in her LinkedIn post, titled “I Used to Hate Doing Stand Up. Then I Discovered the Power of Showing Up.” “I didn’t want to work the extra shifts, [but it] gave me a sense of worth and reliability.”

chelsea stand upLater in life, she says her habit for dependability bled into her stand-up career. “I kept showing up. When there were only two people in the audience … I showed up and did ten minutes of material.” 

She’d also show up to “open mic nights” at coffee houses, which she “absolutely dreaded.” “I hated doing stand-up in the beginning. I couldn’t wait for a set to be canceled because no one showed, but after getting cold feet many times, I made an agreement with myself that I would show up, get up, and do my set, no matter what the circumstance,” she writes.

Once Handler showed up enough times, it became her reality, she says. “It was no longer an option to not show up. I now practice ‘showing up’ with everything I do. It has permeated every facet of my life. Whether it’s wanting to cancel a workout, a friend’s party, a public appearance, my family in New Jersey. Whatever it is, when I commit, I show up.”

And if she really can’t show up for something, she’s honest about it. “I don’t over-explain with an excuse that I’m sick or that my children are sick … because I’m not sick and I don’t have children, and all of those excuses are transparent, and you become unreliable,” she writes.

sandra bullock jennifer aniston chelsea handler

She says over the years she’s learned to be selective about what she commits to showing up to.

“I spent the first ten years of my career saying yes to absolutely everything and then harboring resentment for having said yes in the first place,” she writes. Now she focuses on showing up “for the people in my life who deserve my loyalty” — her friends, family, and mentors. 

“Showing up shows great character,” she concludes. “And once you master the art of physically showing up, the art of mentally showing up usually takes care of itself.”

Read more about how to launch your career on LinkedIn.

SEE ALSO: This is the one thing I regret not doing on my first day of work

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: We showed real résumés to an expert and the feedback was brutal

Read More

A CEO shares the surprising lesson he learned from selling his company for $4 billion

bob carr

Last November, Bob Carr signed a deal to sell his payments processing company Heartland Payment Systems for $100 a share to Global Payments, for a total of $4.3 billion.

The deal made him a very rich man, but it also taught him a surprising lesson about the meaning of work.

Both public companies in the same industry, Global Payments had a thriving business abroad but a weak influence in the US, and Heartland’s sizeable American customer base among small and midsize merchants was a perfect complement.

Carr, 70, declined a board seat and decided to step away from the company he founded in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1997. Although he hadn’t been planning to sell, Heartland’s healthy performance and the generous offer convinced him that ending this chapter in his life was worth it.

The move also required that six of his direct reports cash out of the company. Yet, while it made them much richer, it left them unhappy. The CFO, for example, made $65 million on the deal and is 60 years old, but now feels lost, Carr told Business Insider.

“I just never really appreciated that until the sale of the company,” Carr said. It made him realize how valuable it is to do something that you love.

“We didn’t always talk about how wonderful it was to always be fighting the battle every day,” he said. Once that sense of purpose was gone, they became genuinely unhappy — despite being millionaires.

As for himself, he has the Give Something Back Foundation, which he founded 15 years ago to put underprivileged students through private high school and college, to occupy his days. Around 480 kids have gone through the program, and he is working on partnerships with the likes of celebrity performance coach Tony Robbins and NBA player Dwayne Wade. The foundation’s team expanded to 10 people last year.

But once Carr has steered it in the right direction, he knows it won’t need him to be hands-on any longer, which can be a scary thought.

“The foundation could be enough to keep me busy for the next 15 years,” he said, but “I suspect it won’t be.” The idea of spending the rest of his life on the golf course or in front of a television is out of the question. Even the idea of a week-long vacation feels wrong, he joked.

That’s why he’s in the planning stages of another company in the community banking space. He said that this moment in his life showed him that he still hasn’t lost what an early mentor called his “race with death.”

Carr grew up in a struggling working class family in Lockport, Illinois, to parents who both hated their jobs. Carr said that when he lost his religious faith as a young man, he decided that he needed to fit in as much as possible in the time he was given in life, and his experience as a child made him want to create his own business that would in turn give employees a job they could be proud of.

As he grew older, he stopped being driven by an increasing paycheck and instead became motivated by having an impact, he explained.

Even though the sale of his company was bittersweet, he feels assured by the prospect of both enhancing his foundation and creating something new.

“When I was in high school I thought, ‘OK, I see these 60-year-old people out there, and it doesn’t seem like they have that happy lives. They’re not proud of what they did. And I don’t want to be that way,'” he said.

“My greatest achievement is not building a $4.3 billion company — which shocks me to this day that it got that big — it’s having all these people doing great things,” he said, referring to the Heartland’s 4,600 employees. “It’s not just that we have great jobs; we’re doing great work. We’ve been changing the lives of 300,000 customers. Creating technology, doing things that have never been done before — it’s cool. It’s a privilege, too.”

SEE ALSO: 9 timeless lessons from the great Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: ‘Shark Tank’ star Robert Herjavec knows what to do when everything is against you

Read More