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Career Coach: Persistence of Vision

In this months Career Coach, Pamela Kleibrink Thompson reminds us of the importance of following our dreams.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson.

A few weeks ago, Brad Bird won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. One of the other people competing in this category was Chris Buck, who worked with Brad and me on Family Dog, way back in 1986. The production crew for Family Dog was dedicated, talented, and determined to make an entertaining animated half-hour episode for Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories.

In 1986, there were few animated projects in production. Producers are interested in making money and few were interested in taking a chance on animation. The industry was in a downturn. But both Brad and Chris, and many others who worked on Family Dog, pursued a career in animation, weathering its downturns and enjoying its upswings. Luckily for us, they created more amazing stories for us to enjoy.

Often those who are most successful are those who pursue what they love to do, no matter what the obstacles. They have a persistence of vision and ignore the advice and sagacity of the experts. There are many instances of artists being advised to pursue other avenues of work.

Another Academy Award winner was told by a casting agent named Eddie Foy, Jr. that he would never make it as an actor and should explore another line of work. He was told he was too short, had a nose that was too big, and he had no talent. A voice actor in Racing Stripes, Kung Fu Panda and Tale of Despereaux, Dustin Hoffman has also had some success acting in live-action.

There are many examples of experts trying to dissuade artists from pursuing their dreams. Painters told that they are too old, actors told they are too ugly, and singers told they have no talent.

And in Brad's animated film Ratatouille, the rat Remy is told by the expert in his community (his father) to accept the fact that he is a rat and that rats don't cook. They don't create, they take. But Remy determines to follow his dream, no matter what.

Brad Bird never lost sight of his dreams, which led him to an Oscar for Ratatouille. © Disney/Pixar.

You must be truly passionate about your dreams and have the strength to ignore the experts. In his acceptance speech at the Oscars last month, Brad Bird thanked the expert he ignored:

"I want to thank the Academy and I also want to thank my junior high guidance counselor for a meeting we had where he asked me, What do you want to do with your life? And I said, I want to make movies. And he said, What else do you want to do with your life? And I said, Make movies. And he said, What if you couldn't make movies? And I said, I'd find a way that I could. What if movies didn't exist? I'd have to invent them.

And it went on like this until we were sick of each other and I only realized just recently that he gave me the perfect training for the movie business.

"I want to thank my wife Liz and my kids. All the dreamers at Pixar and Disney And all the dreamers who are supporting a rat that dreams"

Thank you, Brad, and all the other dreamers who ignore the experts, follow their passion, and persist in their vision, whether others think it's a good idea or not. Our world is richer because the dreamers persist.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter, hiring strategist, career coach and speaker, available for personal consultations and speaking engagements. She worked with Brad Bird, Chris Buck and many other talented, wonderful people in animation on Family Dog in a loft in downtown Los Angeles in 1986. Pamela is traveling to Singapore in March to speak at the Animation Portfolio Workshop sponsored by the Media Development Authority. If you are interested in her professional services as a career coach, speaker, or recruiter, contact her at or