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Bill George

Harvard Business School Professor, former Medtronic CEO

George Lucas on Art, Business, Leadership, and Life

Wearing a three-piece suit, George Lucas reclined back alongside Ben Mankiewicz to discuss his career.  The conversation opened with a focus on the way that Lucas structured some of his early business deals.  At age 27, he decided to do business on his own.  Mankiewicz probed, “what made you think you could do it on your own.”  Lucas: “Well, that’s what 27 year olds think.  At least those who are going anywhere…”

The segment included a few “sizzle rolls” that showed the breadth of Lucas’s work and the array of special effects his affiliated companies have pioneered. 

  • Lucas, on business: My father taught me to “buy low, sell high, and never borrow money” … I pay attention to industries that are around my industry.  Steve Jobs really does know what he’s doing.  He’s amazing.  He has created something.  Who would have thought they’d make cell phones 20 years ago?  That is coming up with great ideas.
  • Lucas, on art: I loved making movies.  I was perfectly happy with one car, one house.  I still only have one house.  I just wanted to make movies.  Movies are an art form.  My definition of art is a way of communicating emotions from one human being to another human being.  For the most part that involves technology.  Because that is a very human endeavor.  Art is an emotional, not a literal connection. 
  • Lucas, on leadership: I’m very hands on.  I am a micro-manager.  But I don’t scream.  I don’t march around.  And there are a lot of directors like that.  Reporters and everyone would realize that maybe a third of the directors have a similar style.  I pull actors aside to speak to them softly.  I don’t pound the desk.  I don’t demand things.  I try to be reasonable and talk things through.   There is a lot to be said for civil discourse. 
  • Lucas, on education: We are drowning.  Do you want to give up, or keep on going?  The single most important thing we must do to survive is create knowledge and pass it on to the next generation.  That is our evolutionary process… we don’t have stripes, claws, stingers… we only have our silly little brains.

Audience Input

  • @Orrin_Woodward Lucas was not motivated by money but by developing his art of making movies – Success followed his passion. #WBF09
  • @DonPeppers #wbf09 – we heard this “love what you do” msg before today, from both Bill George and from Patrick Lencioni
  • @ChiefCatalyst: George Lucas. Focused, humble and lucky.
  • @rjmac: I think George Lucas’ basic unspoken lesson at #wbf09 is use the force. (i.e., trust intuition to succeed)
  • @AndreaMeyer: GeorgeLucas: I found the thing I loved to do & would live on chocolate bars & would work 24×7 on it#wbf09
  • @85BroadsNewYork Lesson from George Lucas: Take the lead in negotiating for yourself. Take contractual control. #WBF09
  • @ bpluskowski Lucas: scriptwriting doesn’t have to do with the ability to write – it’s about the ability to tell a story #wbf09