Leadership

The same trait helped both George Lucas and Steve Jobs succeed

Portrait of American businessman and engineer Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer Inc, at the first West Coast Computer Faire, where the Apple II computer was debuted, in Brooks Hall, San Francisco, California, April 16th or 17th, 1977.
Tom Munnecke | Getty Images
Portrait of American businessman and engineer Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer Inc, at the first West Coast Computer Faire, where the Apple II computer was debuted, in Brooks Hall, San Francisco, California, April 16th or 17th, 1977.

"Solo," the latest movie in the "Star Wars" franchise, is expected to bring in $170 million during its opening weekend, which is also forecast to be the biggest weekend for U.S. theaters ever. And although the original "Star Wars" creator George Lucas sold Lucasfilm and the franchise to Disney in 2012 for $4 billion, the retired filmmaker's Type A tendencies are arguably what set up the sci-fi series for continued, decades-long success.

Mashable editor Chris Taylor describes Lucas as a "ruthless perfectionist" in his 2014 book "How Star Wars Conquered the Universe," further explaining, in a New Yorker interview, that Lucas "had a dogged persistence to produce something that had the general contours of his vision."

It is possible that Lucas picked up some of his creative habits from the late tech visionary Steve Jobs. The two worked together when Jobs briefly left Apple and bought the computer animation studio Pixar from Lucas. And they both benefited from having Type A personalities.

Venture capitalist Guy Kawsaki, who also worked with Jobs in the '80s and '90s, says that "one of the things that made Steve so successful was he was such a perfectionist."

"One of the most important lessons that I learned from Steve Jobs is that changing your mind is a sign of intelligence, it's a sign of competence," he adds.

Lucas has noted that he is a lot like Jobs and proud of it.

"Steve was way, way out there," Lucas tells Fortune in a eulogy for Jobs in 2011. "I make movies that nobody thinks are going to work. Steve made products that nobody thinks would work."

In the end, Jobs' perfectionism and his enthusiasm for Apple taught Lucas a major lesson: "For any entrepreneur or corporate executive, if they don't love the product and love the job – if they're not passionate – it doesn't work long term."

Lucas no longer directs the "Star Wars" movies but his influence is all over "Solo," director Ron Howard says. Though Lucas came up with the idea for it years ago, he made a point to visit the "Solo" set after a major director shakeup to share the vision he originally had for the movie.

In a recent interview, Taylor asked Howard, whether Lucas wrote any lines for the film. It turns out Lucas didn't tell the actors what to say but rather how to carry out their roles: "It wasn't a line. It was an attitude, it was a behavior, it was physical comedy," Howard tells Taylor. And Lucas taught lead actor Alden Ehrenreich to have "the swagger of Han Solo," which, Howard says, Lucas "generally does not carry around with him."

Still, Taylor points out that Lucas has the ability to be flexible, too, and not get bogged down in micromanaging, often telling his collaborators things like, "I will allow you to influence this movie and insert things I wouldn't think of."

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