1982 Achiever of the Year: Steven Spielberg

This week, our March issue hits the newsstands and the man gracing the cover is our 2013 Achiever of the Year– the visionary, founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. The competition was tough, and Bezos barely edged out the other nominees. One particular runner-up set a new record in SUCCESS history by having won a previous Achiever of the Year title and becoming up a finalist again in 2013. 

Director, producer and business magnate Steven Spielberg was our 1982 Achiever of the Year, represented on the magazine cover by a cariacature drawing and accompanied by the title creature of his then-recent blockbuster hit, E.T. Here’s a look back at Spielberg’s timeless anecdotes, quotes and advice from his 1982 article.

On maintaining brand integrity: “Spielberg has been characterized by marketing-industry observers as remarkably restrained in his granting of licenses to manufactureres eager to cash in on the E.T. phenomenon. He is said to personally pass judgment on every proposal, in order to maintain the integrity of his vision of E.T. and the quality of the products which bear its likeness.”

On transparency and taking chances: “Every movie I’ve made is about human relationships in a sense, but E.T. is the most intensely personal. It exposes me and my feelings for the first time. And, if it symbolizes anything, it’s my optimism about people and the future. In a way, I was risking a lot. I was risking everything. But I still felt I couldn’t lose.” 

About connecting with others: “I’m much more concerned with audience response than with how much money a film makes… Every film succeeds on a human level, and the audience reaction to E.T. has been– well, the greatest reward to me.”

On success and ambition: “If you want something badly enough, you’re going to create the right atmosphere to succeed in it. I hope I never lose my ambition for starting new movies.” 

About his creativity: “He has an idea every 13 seconds,” says a production associate. “I have to figure out how serious they are. If he wants to do something, I figure out how to make it possible financially. Steven doesn’t think in monetary terms. He rarely thinks in small terms, either.”


Jennifer Chang is the former associate editor for SUCCESS. She has a corgi puppy who has more Instagram followers than a dog should have. Tweet or follow her thoughts and favorite links at @jenzchang.

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