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💡 What does it take to have an edge?

The three T's of cutting through to your audience

Among my favorite books I've completed lately is Creativity, Inc. by Edwin Catmull and Amy Wallace (it's one of the books in my Creative Thinker's Library.)

The book tells the tale of how Catmull surmounted a volley of obstacles to co-found Pixar.

From the difficulties of getting started with computer-generated animation to the difficulties of finding a parent company where they would thrive, the challenges were plentiful, but it made the studio that much stronger.

Catmull was inspired at a young age by a program called (at various times) the Wonderful World of Disney, which presented the magic behind the animation in Disney films.

He would go on to develop this beautiful intersection of technology and art that is found in Pixar.

The studio is both known for pushing itself to the limits with its tools as well as its stories.

The book details how the Pixar team applied rigor and collaboration to drive their ideas forward.

The book left me thinking long and hard about what it means to have an edge.

I'm proposing a model of the three T's: Talent, Technique, and Technology.

That is to say you need each of these coordinated together to present yourself as a forerunner in your craft.

Cultivate your skills, develop your own way of doing your craft, and advance the tools that you use to do your craft.

1. Talent

Robert Greene's book Mastery, more than most, drives home a familiar point — that genius is not something you're born with, but that you nurture to fulfillment.

The reason his message is so distinctly powerful is that he couples it with the notion that we all do have inclinations towards certain passions at a young age.

We're thinking, in this case, of Catmull's fascination with Disney animation.

Greene encourages readers to run towards the throughlines in life.

Dig into the roots, essentially, in order to find how deep your passions go.

Still, as we know from looking at someone like Leonardo da Vinci, identifying and owning your passions and honing them into talent does not mean pigeonholing yourself.

Greene references Ingmar Bergman, whose interest was in, not just film per se, but the idea of the storytelling magic presented in the medium.

The body of our talent has an abstract heart but concrete legs.

Passion is entwined with ideas and impulses but it finds conduits to pulse through. 

And we have it well within our power to develop these skills, seeing as how there is no skill more likely to be mastered in you than one you have a long-term passion for.

2. Technique

"I liked almost anybody that made you realize who in the devil was making the picture... Because the director's the storyteller and should have his own method of telling it," Howard Hawks once told Peter Bogdanovich.

He's referring to the idea of the auteur in a sense, focusing in on the idea of style as the code written by the director.

Spielberg has said before he admires Scorsese for making quintessential Scorsese movies, wanting that distinction in style for himself. 

This idea of having a signature extends beyond film, though.

It applies to any company or brand, which needs its own fingerprint.

How do I do things differently?

That's the essential question left to creatives of all sorts. 

3. Technology

Ours is an age of infinite technological evolution. 

The amount of technical innovation has hit a  fever pitch in the past few years, and it's only going to continue. Companies are pushing out new products faster than ever before, and the competition is fierce. It's important for organizations to stay ahead of the curve and implement strategies that will help keep them competitive. This can be done by staying on top of trends, investing in research and development, and having an agile approach to change. With the right approach, companies can remain ahead of the pack and ensure their success in this ever-evolving tech landscape. At the same time, it's important to keep employees engaged so they remain motivated to help drive the organization forward. Companies need to create a workplace culture that encourages collaboration.

Pixar also functioned to allow time for their creatives to work on projects they're interested in, not just the projects they needed to tackle for the business.

Allowing a space for people to pursue their creativity allows for new levels of innovation. It encourages collaboration and idea sharing, so that others can benefit from the knowledge.

Artificial intelligence, inevitably, will reach most any domain as a transformative element.

And that's a wave we should consider riding.