Business Lessons Learned From “Toy Story 3″

I sneaked out of work early on Friday so I could be one of the first to watch Pixar’s “Toy Story 3.” I’ve seen all the Pixar movies and was really excited to see Buzz and Woody’s latest adventures. I brought my two boys so I had a “cover” story.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the film and highly recommend it, I also couldn’t help but admire the genius behind Pixar studios. It truly is a “Best in Breed” company and a guidepost for all entrepreneurs. Below are some great business lessons which I gleaned from the movie.

Be True to Your Brand

Loyal friendship (even in the face of adversity) was an important theme in the first two Toy Story movies and the latest chapter is no exception. Woody shows his unwavering devotion to his owner Andy, even when the rest of his toy family is enamored with moving to Sunnyside Day Care Center to receive round-the-clock playing.

Good To Great author Jim Collins would call this being a “hedge hog.” Know what you do well and consistently do it. Don’t be something your not.

In business, many opportunities come your way. Saying “no” to the bad fits is difficult, but important. My answer in such scenarios is “I am sure that’s a good business, but that’s not what we do”.

Be Honest With Your Customers (Even with Bad News)

Many memorable characters from the first two movies weren’t included in “Toy Story 3.” The storyline of Andy growing up and getting ready for college dictated that he not have a room full of kid toys, just his few remaining favorites. Rather than ignoring the omission of Wheezy, Etch-A-Sketch, and Bo Peep (Woody’s first love), a sensible and honest explanation is given for their omission (i.e., through the years, they broke or were sold in yard sales).

At my company, being candid is one of our five core values. If the prospects for beating a particular traffic ticket are low, we tell you before you engage us. The last thing I want is someone to hire us with an unrealistic expectation. Likewise, if make a mistake, we fess up. We don’t sugarcoat it and we don’t make excuses. Rather, we explain honestly what happened and then do our best to make things right. Fortunately (for us), this is not a common occurrence.

Don’t Underestimate the Value Of the Close

Positive Psychology expert Stella Grizont teaches from studies that the end of an experience is the most impactful. She uses as an example how ends its sales experience by suggesting products which other customers (who bought the same product) also liked.

What can you do to make the end of a transaction with your company memorable and positive? I’d love to hear your comments.

Anyway, the “Toy Story 3” writers incorporate this best practice and avoid a common problem with many movies (i.e. how to end them). Andy (always creative and entertaining when interacting with his toys as a youngster) gets to play one more game of make-believe with his favorite “friends” and their new owner, a young girl named Bonnie. It’s hard to imagine a more satisfying and heart-warming end to the trilogy and certainly provides movie-goers with a memorable and impactful exit.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • I am so impressed that you see lessons for life and business in a kids film. You have motivated me to go and see the movie (can I borrow your kids for cover?) and even wishing that I owned a car so I can get a traffic ticket to bring to your firm!

    You mentioned your company’s core values and shared one, ‘being candid’ which is extraordinary and refreshing – I would love it if you shared more about those.

    Thanks for a great post Matt!

    • Thanks Mardy for your feedback. I truly appreciate it. Most people only take the time to comment when they need additional information or have a complaint. I am therefore always grateful when a reader shares something positive about any of my posts.

      Further, it is now you who have inspired me. I am slightly embarrassed but discussing my company’s mission and core values is a topic which I have never blogged about. Your comment reminded me of this and is my inspiration for my next post. I will be discussing all 5 of our company’s core values and how they all relate to our company’s mission. Standby.

      If you want a “sneak peak”, our core values our all posted on our NY Traffic Ticket website under the “About Us” tab.


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