Listen now on
#345 George Lucas
April 12th, 2024 | E345

What I learned from rereading George Lucas: A Life by Brian Jay Jones.


Get access to the World’s Most Valuable Notebook for Founders at Founders

You can read, reread, and search all my notes and highlights from every book I've ever read for the podcast. 

You can also ask SAGE any question and SAGE will read all my notes, highlights, and every transcript from every episode for you.

 A few questions I've asked SAGE recently: 

What are the most important leadership lessons from history's greatest entrepreneurs?

Can you give me a summary of Warren Buffett's best ideas? (Substitute any founder covered on the podcast and you'll get a comprehensive and easy to read summary of their ideas) 

How did Edwin Land find new employees to hire? Any unusual sources to find talent?

What are some strategies that Cornelius Vanderbilt used against his competitors?

Get access to Founders Notes here


(0:01) George Lucas unapologetically invested in what he believed in the most: himself.

(1:00) George Lucas is the Thomas Edison of the modern film industry.

(1:30) A list of biographies written by Brian Jay Jones

(6:00) Elon Musk interviewed by Kevin Rose 

(10:15) How many people think the solution to gaining quality control, improving fiscal responsibility, and stimulating technological innovation is to start their own special-effects company? But that’s what he did.

(17:00) When I finally discovered film, I really fell madly in love with it. I ate it. I slept it. 24 hours a day. There was no going back.

(18:00) Those on the margins often come to control the center. (Game of Thrones)

(21:00) As soon as I made my first film, I thought, Hey, I’m good at this. I know how to do this. From then on, I’ve never questioned it.

(23:00) He was becoming increasingly cranky about the idea of working with others and preferred doing everything himself.

(34:00) Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life by Michael Schumacher. (Founders #242)

(42:00) The film Easy Rider was made for $350,000. It grossed over $60 million at the box office.

(45:00) The Founders: The Story of PayPal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley by Jimmy Soni. (Founders #233)

A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age by Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman (Founders #95)

Steve Jobs & The NeXT Big Thing by Randall Stross. (Founders #77)

(47:00) What we’re striving for is total freedom, where we can finance our pictures, make them our way, release them where we want them released, and be completely free. That’s very hard to do in the world of business. You have to have the money in order to have the power to be free.

(49:00) You should reject the status quo and pursue freedom.

(49:00) People would give anything to quit their jobs. All they have to do is do it. They’re people in cages with open doors.

(51:00) Stay small. Be the best. Don’t lose any money.

(59:00) That was a very dark period for me. We were in dire financial strait. I turned that down [directing someone else’s movie] at my bleakest point, when I was in debt to my parents, in debt to Francis Coppola, in debt to my agent; I was so far in debt I thought I’d never get out. It took years to get from my first film to my second film, banging on doors, trying to get people to give me a chance. Writing, struggling, with no money in the bank… getting little jobs, eking out a living. Trying to stay alive, and pushing a script that nobody wanted.

(1:02:00) “Opening this new restaurant might be the worst mistake I've ever made."

Stanley [Stanley Marcus of Neiman Marcus] set his martini down, looked me in the eye, and said, "So you made a mistake. You need to understand something important. And listen to me carefully: The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled."

His words remained with me through the night. I repeated them over and over to myself, and it led to a turning point in the way I approached business.

Stanley's lesson reminded me of something my grandfather Irving Harris had always told me:

“The definition of business is problems."

His philosophy came down to a simple fact of business life: success lies not in the elimination of problems but in the art of creative, profitable problem solving. The best companies are those that distinguish themselves by solving problems most effectively.

Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer. 

(1:05:00) My thing about art is that I don’t like the word art because it means pretension and bullshit, and I equate those two directly. I don’t think of myself as an artist. I’m a craftsman. I don’t make a work of art; I make a movie.

(1:06:00) I know how good I am. American Graffiti is successful because it came entirely from my head. It was my concept. And that’s the only way I can work.

(1:09:00) Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs by Ken Kocienda. (Founders #281)

(1:21:00) The budget for Star Wars was $11 million. In brought in $775 million at the box office alone!

(1:25:00) Steven Spielberg made over $40 million from the original Star Wars. Spielberg gave Lucas 2.5% of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Lucas gave Spielberg 2.5% of Star Wars. That to 2.5% would earn Spielberg more than $40 million over the next four decades.


Get access to the World’s Most Valuable Notebook for Founders at Founders


I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast