As the story goes, when John Lennon was writing “I Am the Walrus,” he received a letter from a student at his former primary school explaining that the English teacher there had given his pupils the task of decoding and analyzing Beatles lyrics. So, in true Lennon fashion, he resolved to make his new song as inscrutable as possible, including nonsensical lines about yellow custard and dead dog eyes adapted from a nursery rhyme he sang as a child. The song “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, might seem like a similarly obtuse flight of fancy, but it was actually inspired by—and, in many cases, lifted wholesale from—a Victorian circus poster Lennon had picked up at an antiques shop some time earlier. Peter Dean, a modern-day Beatles fanatic, wanted a copy of that poster for his own wall, but all he could find were crappy reproductions. So, with the dedication of a true zealot, he set about re-creating it on his own.
My model of management is the Beatles. The reason I say that is because each of the key people in the Beatles kept the others from going off in the directions of their bad tendencies.
They sort of kept each other in check. And then when they split up, they never did anything as good. It was the chemistry of a small group of people, and that chemistry was greater than the sum of the parts. And so John kept Paul from being a teenybopper and Paul kept John from drifting out into the cosmos, and it was magic. And George, in the end, I think provided a tremendous amount of soul to the group. I don’t know what Ringo did.
That’s the chemistry [at Pixar] between Ed [Catmull] and John [Lasseter] and myself. It’s worked pretty doggone well. We talk about things a lot, and sometimes one of us will want to do something that’s really stupid, or maybe not stupid but … oh, I don’t know … maybe not the wisest thing in the long run for the studio. And, you know, at least one of the other two will say, ‘Hey, you know, I think there’s a better way to do that.’ So we’ll all slow down and think it through, and we usually come up with a much better way.”