Steven Spielberg: The Traits of a Billionaire

11.10.2020 |

Episode #10 of the course 10 billionaires and their lessons on success by John Robin


Welcome to our tenth and final lesson about the world’s billionaires and their lessons on success.

So far, we’ve learned from nine billionaires, and our tour has taken us to every continent in the world. Now, to complete our tour, we are returning to North America, to meet our final billionaire.

In fact, you might have heard of him already, but his rise to wealth—now that is a story eclipsed by his fame.


Steven Spielberg: A Producer and a Stake-holder

We all have heard of Steven Spielberg, but not because of his wealth. His mark on the world of film is outstanding. From eye-opening classics like Schindler’s List, Amistad, and Saving Private Ryan to iconic hits like E.T., Jurassic Park, and the Indiana Jones films, the 3-time Academy Award-winning director has been churning out masterpieces since his start with Jaws in 1975, and even today, five decades in, he’s still at it with his most recent Bridge of Spies, Ready Player One and the upcoming West Side Story.

Steven branded his success by founding two film production companies: Amblin Entertainment in 1970, and DreamWorks Pictures in 1994. Through these companies, he was able to be either producer or executive producer, on over 100 films. Both these companies are structured in such a way that Steven both co-owns a percentage share with the founders, so not only does he get paid for his role on each film put out, he also gets a cut of the profit from movie sales. Next summer, when Jurassic World: Dominion comes out—the final installment in the Jurassic reboot trilogy, put out by Amblin Entertainment—he will be making a cut on box office sales.

The box office sales on the films put out by Steven’s two companies have grossed more than $10.1 billion, meaning, with his cut, Steven Spielberg is worth $3.7 billion as of August 2020.


Steven’s Billionaire Lesson

I put this lesson last for a reason. In order to unpack it, we must first draw from everything we have learned from our other nine billionaires:

1. Isabel dos Santos taught us a windfall of money, locked in investment, can be a steady cash source.

2. Aliko Dangote taught us producing your own materials cuts costs.

3. Zhong Huijuan taught us immersive work with high career potential will keep you going and going.

4. Mukesh Ambani taught us to scale up by goals based on immediate work realities.

5. Maria Aramburuzabala taught us the power of a teamwork investing strategy.

6. Manuel Villar taught us how to max out loans to maximize profit growth.

7. Alicia Koplowitz taught us how to diversify our revenue stream.

8. Jorge Lemann taught us the power of a percent incentive.

9. Gina Rinehart taught us the importance of setting a limit on work with an only short-term payoff.

We can see how each of these lessons come together in Steven’s story of success:

1. Rather than holding onto his profits, Steven invested it all in his production companies.

2. Rather than relying on other production companies to fund films, he equipped his own with all they need to produce at a lower cost.

3. He focused on the work was most immersed in, and most relevant to his career potential as a movie producer.

4. He focused on one film at a time and launched his companies one at a time when the opportunity was a relevant next step.

5. He partnered with other investors when he founded DreamWorks, allowing them all to keep a 76% stake of the overall company year after year.

6. He constantly spent money on making more movies, drawing on that debt to create more revenue-generating films.

7. By way of his production companies, he diversified his revenue by branching out to make more movies than he on his own could make.

8. He was driven by the percentage stake from the films he made, rather than a flat per film payment.

9. He limited his time spent on short-term work by being an executive producer on a small selection of films and tapped into the full potential of producing many more films by way of partnerships with other directors on his team.

What Steven’s lesson reveals is that there are nine core traits we can see in the billionaires we’ve studied, and he has tapped into every one of them.

If we boil them all down, we have his unique lesson:

• Discover your truest passion, and become a core percentage stakeholder in it as you scale it to growth.

The future is exciting when you discover your passion, then take the small, realistic steps toward being a percentage stakeholder in the business it will become. You are a business, and you can scale as you create, through the work you do, and the team that defines your vision—your success.

And with that, we wrap up our course. I hope you have been inspired to dream big, and dare to take the risks that will make you the heartbeat of your own brand, and who knows, maybe you will be the world’s next billionaire!

I love hearing from my students. If you have questions about this course or ideas for new ones, please let me know by emailing me at


Recommended book

The Essence of Success: 12 Mini Biographies: Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Nelson Mandela, Steven Spielberg by Anthony Brio, Mark Crow, Damien Carr, Nicholas Creek, Terry Savage


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