Ed Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar, calls early mock-ups of Pixar movies “ugly babies.” “They are not beautiful, miniature versions of the adults they will grow up to be,” Catmull writes. “They are truly ugly: awkward and unformed, vulnerable and incomplete. They need nurturing—in the form of time and patience—in order to grow.” That is the theme of this SIX at 6.
People Have To Be Bad Before They Can Be Good
Colin Jost and Michael Che are the longest-tenured Weekend Update anchors in SNL history. After their third episode in 2014, an NBC executive called a meeting with SNL creator and producer, Lorne Michaels. “Do you think Jost and Che are working?” the exec asked. Michaels replied, “No.” “Oh,” the exec said, “you know?” Yes, Michaels said he was well aware that his new Weekend Update anchors were not performing all that well. “But it’s a thing,” Michaels told the exec. “People have to be bad before they can be good.” He, coincidentally, likes to use the analogy of an ugly baby: “All babies are ugly (unless they’re your baby), but after three months, everyone says, ‘What a beautiful baby.’ You just have to live through that period of people not being good.”
How Bad Things Can Be On Their Way To Being Good
Talking with his fellow multi-Grammy-winning producer Finneas O’Connell, Rick Rubin made a comment about how an underrated ability is the ability to continue working on something bad. “There’s a great deal of patience involved,” Rubin said. Because, he said, everything is bad for awhile before it gets good. Finneas agreed, saying, “I think it’s shocking every time how bad things can be on their way to being good. It blows my mind. It’s like when someone’s solving a Rubik’s Cube and it looks like they’re so far from solving it right before they solve it. When you’re in the middle of something—you listen to it, and you’re like, ‘tomorrow, this might get amazing, but today, it’s so bad.’ The exciting thing is that it’s every time.” “Every time,” Rubin repeats.
Stay On The Bus
The photographer and filmmaker Arno Rafael Minkkinen has a theory of creative originality: “The Helsinki Bus Station Theory.” In the heart of the city of Helsinki, there is a bus station. Before they branch off into different directions, every bus makes the same first few stops on the way out of the city. Like these buses—an artist, early on, can’t avoid taking a similar route as the artists who came before. “Let’s say…metaphorically speaking,” Minkkinen says, “you have been working for three years making platinum studies of nudes.” “You take those three years of work on the nude to [a gallery], and the curator asks if you are familiar with the nudes of Irving Penn…[or] Bill Brandt.” Realizing that your style is derivative, that it’s an ugly baby, Minkkinen says, “You hop off the bus, grab a cab, and head straight back to the bus station looking for another platform.” Back at the station—metaphorically speaking—you set out again to develop your style. Then three years later, again, you take your work to an art gallery. Again, the curator says your work looks like the ugly baby version of a more famous artist. So again, you decide to get off the bus, but this time, Minkkinen himself stops you and gives you some advice: “Stay on the bus. Stay on the f*cking bus.” If you stay on the bus, you will get through the ugly baby phase, and “soon your differences will begin to appear with clarity and intelligence. Your originality will become visible. And even the works from those very first years of trepidation when everything you did seemed to have been done before [will] all have the stamp of your unique vision. Why? Because you stayed on the bus.”
De-Fuck The Script Later
Tim Ferriss says the screenwriter Evan Goldberg is one of the most prolific generators of ideas that Tim has ever come across. On set of Neighbors 2, Tim sat in on a writers’ room brainstorm. The script was projected on a huge screen. One person sat at a keyboard, typing at hyperspeed as everyone else pitched ideas. “Evan said ‘fuck’ every third word,” Tim recalled. “And it was just typed right in.” After, Tim made a comment to Evan about how often he used the word “fuck.” “The important thing is to keep the generating of ideas and the editing of ideas separate,” Evan said. “You can always de-fuck the script later.”
You’re Only As Good As You’re Willing To Be Bad
Randall Stutman, an executive advisor and the founder of Admired Leadership, likes to say, “You’re only as good as you’re willing to be bad…The fact that you’re not going to be good at something or that you’re going to fail at something—that’s OK. Because you’re never going to get good unless you’re willing to be bad.” People, Weekend Update anchors, songs, artists, and scripts have to be bad before they can be good. Be patient. Stay on the bus.