Tim Milliron says the intensity of pitching Steve Jobs initially caught him off guard.

Tim Milliron worked at Pixar for over 13 years and also at companies like Google, Twilio, and now Podium. He says Jobs insisted Pixar employees articulate the value of every new project in extreme detail. Jobs pushed them to always keep asking the hard “how” and “why” questions for clarity. See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Early in my career, I worked at Pixar Animation Studios for over 13 years. I started as a technical director and left as the company’s director of simulation tools, and I held various key leadership roles related to engineering and product development.

For a portion of my tenure, Steve Jobs was still CEO and already a legend in Silicon Valley. I once had the chance to pitch him on a new technology (one that the studio still uses today) – and the entire process of pitching him became like a graduate-level course in how to think about business like an entrepreneur, no matter your company, role or title.

Pixar was in the middle of one of the greatest hot streaks a film studio has ever seen.

Our most recent releases were “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles,” and “Cars.” But the technical challenges of these films made it clear it was time to overhaul our 20-year-old animation platform if we wanted to stay at the very top of the industry.

Along with four other leaders, I was leading a team that would go on to develop a new animation platform from the ground up.

At virtually any other organization, working under almost any other leader, our project would have been greenlit with little fuss. We would create a detailed formal proposal and someone higher up the ladder would sign the dotted line.

But not at Pixar – not with Steve in charge.

With Steve, getting buy-in and approval felt more like an early-stage VC pitch and less like an internal greenlight.


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