John Lasseter had the late, great Steve Jobs on his mind Tuesday night when accepting Variety’s inaugural Creative Leadership Award at the Hollywood’s New Leaders confab.

In addressing the many up-and-coming execs at the event, held at SoHo House West Hollywood, the Pixar topper quoted Jobs, who saw auds’ relationship with brands as being like a bank account: “You make deposits” with good product. “You make withdrawals” with bad product. And if “you make more withdrawals than deposits, you’re bankrupt.”

Lasseter’s voice broke as he spoke of Jobs’ role as a mentor to the Pixar team, and how strongly he encouraged them to pursue their once-elusive goal of making computer-animated feature films.

“The only thing Steve Jobs ever asked of us was to ‘Make it great.’ Everything we do follows his simple words,” added Lasseter, who urged the industry’s new leaders to be proud of their work.

Later in the evening, Lasseter reminisced about making it in the film biz. He knew he’d arrived in Hollywood, oddly enough, while in Dallas.

“I was changing planes at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. I got off the airplane, and there was a little boy standing there with his mom holding a Woody the Cowboy doll. It was the first time I’d see a character I created in the hands of a little boy far, far away from Pixar.”

Lasseter’s signature Hawaiian shirts could be another sign he’s made it. The Pixar topper revealed that a shirt designer in Honolulu “does a Hawaiian shirt for each one of my movies,” and he dutifully showed off his “Cars 2” shirt.