Saturday, January 30, 2010

Docter's Appointment

Let me just say this--it's rare when I get to meet a famous person. I usually just brush by them or spot them. Here's a running list of whom I've glimpsed:
  • Kenny Rogers
  • Al Gore
  • Danny Glover
  • Sean Penn
  • Andy Williams

(Strange, they are all men. The women, I've met. E.g., Natalie Goldberg.)

And now we can add Pete Docter to the list.

For those of you who don't know Pete, you may know his creations better--he was the director of "Up" and "Monsters Inc," as well as working hip deep in other Pixar productions. This past Thursday I was invited to a business breakfast with a collection of other business leaders in Oakland and San Leandro who have worked with the Alameda County Food Bank, and our speaker was Pete Doctor. When you first get a glimpse of Pete, you note how tall he is, and then you notice his relaxed sense of humor. He talked to us using a presentation staged on his Mac, sort of hiding behind the projector (he says himself that he is introverted), and he explained the teamwork and processes of putting a movie together at Pixar. What stood out to me most was his stressing to TRY ANYTHING, which was comforting. This isn't working? Try anything. This could be better? Try anything. The company that I work for has a lot of what is called "standard work" in place, so to hear this was refreshing.

The other statement that stood out for me was the theme that Pete stated they were shooting for in "Up," and that's the idea of there is more adventure in relationships than in travel/dares/extreme sports/etc. I noticed before in a blog post from years ago that Californians seem to be real physical daredevils, but emotionally I hadn't seen them take a lot of risks. (Coincidentally, last week's homily at church talked about how less of a scary investment it is to avoid kindness. This wasn't an endorsement by the minister, just an observation, which is true.) Docter, an introvert and a Midwesterner, perhaps observed the lack of emotional risk too when he developed "Up" to present to crew at Pixar.

By the way, the "tiny mailman" in "Up?" Based on a real kid named, shockingly, Russell. Docter's son has a friend named Russell who looks just like this kid, and he described him as the kid who "blasts through the front door and says, "I'm here Mr. Docter--didya miss me?" "And that," said Docter, "is how I met Russell."

Take a risk, dear reader. Blast into a relationship. :)

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