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What Key Decision Made George Lucas a Billionaire?

By James Mills, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already generated more than $1 billion; one of only 24 films to have reached this milestone and the quickest to date by achieving this in just 12 days. The creator of the legendary Star Wars films; George Lucas, is a billionaire mostly because of the franchise's success. There was, however, one key decision Mr Lucas made early on in his career that distinguished him as a billionaire entrepreneur rather than simply a millionaire film-maker.

He Sacrificed Short-Term Success

It was the decision to take control of the licensing and merchandising rights for Star Wars that was key to George Lucas' financial success. In hindsight it's hard to believe 20th Century Fox allowed this to happen given what the film franchise has achieved. However, at the time the studio believed that the original movie would flop; even though George Lucas' previous film American Graffiti is one of the most profitable films of all time.

Mr Lucas believed strongly in the film's success and so decided to pass up an additional $500,000 in director fees in order to retain the rights. This was back in 1977, when such a lump sum was definitely no small amount!!

This meant that Mr Lucas was fully invested in the film's success and the calculated risk paid off - eventually leading to the sale of his company; Lucasfilm, to Disney for $4.05 billion in 2012.

How Much Are We Invested in Long-Term Success?

George Lucas can teach us a big lesson around what it means to be invested in our potential and long-term success. His example shows us what it means to be disciplined and delay the gratification that comes from short-term wins. How many of us would, hand on heart, pass up an immediate payout and be prepared to sacrifice this to invest in long-term success? True legends are those who are disciplined enough to work whole-heartedly towards long-term success; even when many others may doubt this is possible.

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For a photo-timeline of George Lucas's path to billionaire success - check out this Business Insider article

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