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The Hungry Beast and the Ugly Baby

February 21, 2022

One of the best books that I've read in a while is Creativity, Inc. by Amy Wallace and Edwin Catmull (co-founder of Pixar).

Innovation means pursuing novel ideas. That is a risky endeavor. But as an organization, if you don't innovate, you die. The book is about how the keep that innovation going.

One of my favorite parts of the book is a chapter named "The Hungry Beast and the Ugly Baby". A new idea is an ugly baby. To an alien, it might at first look useless, and a certain degree of imagination is required to see what it will one day become. The hungry beast is waiting to eat the baby. It is the critics, shooting new ideas down to look clever themselves. And it's extremely easy to criticize a baby. It can't do anything, and all it does is eat, scream and poop.

A startup must have a bias towards doing things in new ways. Therefore, it is crucial to build a culture where new ideas are given the benefit of the doubt and where people feel encouraged to take risks in pursuing them. As a founder, it's your job to keep the hungry beast in check.

Work hard to see the positive in everything. Give everything the benefit of the doubt. See it not for what it is today, but what it has the potential to become.