Navigating the Creative Landscape: 4 Key Pieces of Advice for Emerging Talent, by Jamie Woolf, Former Pixar Culture Director

by | Apr 15, 2024

In our work at The Artian and through my own projects, we’re really passionate about getting the next generation ready for a kind of leadership that really gets the importance of arts and humanities at work.

As part of this, I teach a course at IE University, a leading European School, about how to design creative companies. We dive into the stories of companies that have been led with an artistic and creative vision. Companies like Apple with Steve Jobs, Pixar under Ed Catmull and John Lasseter, and Polaroid led by Dr. Edwin Land. We get into what makes these places tick and the brilliant people who made it all happen. Adding an insider perspective to our exploration, we had the honor of hosting Jamie Woolf for a conversation. Jamie is a long-time professional in the field of organizational culture and creativity, the co-founder of Creativity Partners, and, until recently, the director of culture at Pixar.

We talked about many topics, but what I really want to share with young talent is the advice Jamie gave to anyone looking to work in creative spaces. It’s golden.

How Can I Project Myself as Creative to Potential Employers?

Interviews are your stage, but rather than performing a rehearsed piece of your CV, Jamie suggests telling stories. Your academic credentials might get you through the door, but it’s your personal stories that leave a lasting impression. Whether it’s a project that challenged you to think outside the box or an initiative where you brought diverse voices together, these narratives paint a vivid picture of your creative spirit.

How Can I Recognize if a Company Has a Creative Culture?

The quest for a workplace that breathes creativity starts at the interview. Jamie advises asking probing questions to uncover the company’s approach to innovation and failure. How do they recover from setbacks? What space do they provide for creative exploration? The responses to these questions signal whether a company not only accommodates but celebrates creative thinking.

Once I’m in the Company, How Can I Promote My Own Creative Ideas?

Once you’re part of an organization, the challenge shifts to promoting your creative ideas. Jamie emphasizes empathy and preparation. Understand your audience’s pain points and how your creative proposal offers a solution. When presenting your ideas, engage in dialogue, welcoming feedback and questions. It’s about creating a two-way street of communication where creativity flourishes through understanding and mutual respect.

Above all, Jamie’s final piece of advice is where you start, and it revolves around confidence. A mindset anchored in self-belief and anticipation of potential resistance can dramatically influence your approach and reception to creative propositions. Reflect on your successes, prepare to navigate skepticism constructively, and remember that resistance often stems from external factors unrelated to your idea’s value or your competence.

Jamie Woolf at IE University


This conversation was part of our course, which is designed to prepare business students for a future where art thinking, creativity, and innovation are not just nice-to-haves but essential pillars of impactful leadership. Having guests like Jamie Woolf share their journey and wisdom brings this vision one step closer to reality.

Jamie’s session underscored that creativity in professional settings extends beyond showcasing your innovative skills in interviews. It’s about actively seeking environments that nurture creativity, confidently proposing new ideas, and fostering an atmosphere of mutual curiosity and respect. As students stand on the threshold of their professional journeys, embracing these principles can set the stage for a fulfilling and creatively rich career.

Remember, the world isn’t just looking for the next great idea; it’s looking for people who can bring those ideas to life in ways that resonate, inspire, and challenge the status quo. So, tell your stories, seek your creative tribe, and walk confidently in your creative power.

We help companies bring value to life, highlight what is human in their work, and create a diverse inspiration for innovation—interested in transforming your workplace culture with these principles? Reach out to us to explore how we can work together.



What can we create together?