On September 30, 2015, we at 97th Floor had the first meeting of our book club. Every month, we plan to read a different book, then come together over dinner to discuss any ideas that stood out to us and how they could be applied to improving both 97th Floor and ourselves individually.

For our inaugural meeting, we read and discussed Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, the president of both Pixar Animation Studios and Disney Animation Studios. In the book, Catmull presents the history of Pixar, introduces key players in its creation and growth, and discusses several of the underlying philosophies behind the company’s operation and composition. Perhaps more importantly, though, he discusses several of the company’s failures and the lessons they learned from those failures. Several times, he mentions his colleague Andrew Stanton’s mantra of “Fail early and fail fast.”

He also emphasizes fostering an environment that welcomes candor, where people are encouraged to speak up if they feel they have something to add to a discussion or project. 97th Floor’s book club attendees seemed to embrace this idea, as people from all parts and departments of the company put forth their own insights from the book and had a lively discussion of ways we can continue to improve 97th Floor. Several suggestions were made, some of which may be implemented in the future.

So far, the book club seems to be a great success, and several employees who were unable to attend September’s meeting have already expressed interest in coming to our next meeting later this month. At that meeting, we will be discussing REWORK, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of 37signals and creators of the Basecamp project management software. Follow the #97thbookclub hashtag on Twitter for updates!