Former Pixar CFO and member of the Office of the President
Author, To Pixar and Beyond
Acclaimed Business Strategist
Founder, Juniper Foundation
In 1994, out of the blue, Lawrence Levy received a phone call from Steve Jobs to see if he had any interest in running Pixar’s business. Over the next twelve years, Lawrence served as Pixar’s Chief Financial Officer, a member of its Office of the President and later as a member of its board of directors. During this period he developed and put in place the strategy that would transform Pixar from a money-losing graphics company into an entertainment powerhouse.
Lawrence then took a break from corporate life to pursue his passion for eastern philosophy and meditation. He came to see the power of these ideas for realizing our potential as individuals and for creating human-centered organizations that foster creativity, dignity, and excellence.
In 2016, Lawrence released his first book, To Pixar and Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).The book is an Amazon Best Book of 2016 in Business and Leadership and A Fortune Magazine Best Book of 2016. The New York Times described it as “enchanting…Mr. Levy has quite a story to tell” and Fortune Magazine called it “An epic tale of Levy’s quest to balance the competing interests of the quiet artists and technologists who created Toy Story and the mercurial entrepreneur who controlled their professional fates.”
Lawrence recently published an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled Finding the Healthy Tension Between Being Confident and Collaborative. He speaks regularly on the Pixar story and these topics including talks at Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, Pixar and Google.
Lawrence’s education includes a law degree from Harvard Law School. After moving to Silicon Valley in the 1980s and starting the first technology transactions law practice, he became a partner at the law firm Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich and Rosati. From there, he joined Electronics for Imaging as its chief financial officer and vice chairman of the board, a company he took public before joining Pixar.
In 2003, together with four co-founders, Lawrence created a non-profit called Juniper Foundation that focuses on bringing Indo-Tibetan meditation practices to contemporary life. He teaches meditation weekly and continues to write and speak on a range of topics including creativity and innovation, collaboration, realizing our potential, and building human-centered organizations.
Lawrence lives in Palo Alto, California with his wife Hillary. He is an avid reader, with a wide range of interests including philosophy, economics, and science fiction, and he love to exercise and enjoy the latest in pop culture with his family.
To Pixar and Beyond: A Turnaround Story
In this talk, Lawrence shares the never-before-told story of Pixar's improbable success together with his personal journey beyond Pixar. How does a company go from being on the verge of failure to one of the most extraordinary organizations in history? What are the secrets behind Pixar’s success? And how does it reinforce its organizational values, culture and brand on a day-to-day basis?
Lawrence shares with audiences his story of how he worked with Steve Jobs and the Pixar team to create a highly improbable roadmap that transformed the sleepy graphics art studio into one of Hollywood's greatest success stories, and how your team can benefit from these principles. Lawrence also shares insights from his personal journey and their relevance to our personal and professional lives.
Join Lawrence as he takes you and your team on an awakening and insightful journey to discover the powerful secrets of Pixar’s legacy.
The Challenges and Power of Collaboration
When a leader has self-confidence, they often have vision. They are innovative. They challenge the status quo. They change the world. But—self-confidence can sometimes lead to ego; to arrogance; to conflict. In this talk, Lawrence Levy presents the balancing factor: collaboration.
Drawing on the careers of famed figures including John Lasseter and Steve Jobs, Lawrence describes how a focus on collaboration can ensure an organization’s success. He talks about mastery and humility; listening and understanding; and the importance of selecting the right team of people. He provides strategies your organization can start using the very next day. Audiences will leave this talk inspired to commit to a new way of looking at and working with each other.
Unlocking Our Potential: The Middle Way to Success
Why is the working world under the siege of stress? Why does well-being feel so far out of reach for so many of us? In this renewing talk, Lawrence Levy introduces audiences to The Middle Way—a new (yet very very old) way of looking at where stress comes from, and how it can be overcome.
Drawing on ancient philosophies that are now being proven by neuroscience, Lawrence begins by explaining the two sides of our lives: the bureaucrat and the creative. When we spend all our time in bureaucrat mode (making sure we get through the day-to-day), we’re too focused on getting things done. When we spend all our time in creative mode (living, loving, laughing, creating, and enjoying), we can lose momentum and become frustrated by our lack of success. When we’re stuck in either of these places, we’re stressed and agitated. That’s why we must turn to The Middle Way: a philosophy of harmonizing these two ideas.
Lawrence will share his strategies for achieving The Middle Way, drawing on real-life examples of organizations (like Pixar) and people who have been able to draw this fine line. When you achieve The Middle Way, says Lawrence, you can open the door to something new. You can build a great organization and live a great life.
Contact us to learn how Lawrence Levy can craft a speech topic for your audience.