'Duck Dynasty' Offers Fortune-Hunting Lessons for Us All

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Maybe you think the A&E reality show "Duck Dynasty" is fake or low-brow, or you disagree with the clan's often-controversial beliefs. But you can't argue the admitted redneck Robertsons of West Monroe, Louisiana, haven't made Scrooge McDuck bucks from "faith, family and facial hair."

Already a million-dollar business before the show started six seasons and four years ago, the Robertson family enterprise has grown via deals with Walmart (WMT) totaling $400 million in merchandise, books, themed cruises, music CDs and speaking gigs. The family fortune was an estimated $83 million as of last August, and A&E salaries are reportedly $200,000 per episode.

So what can you about money by watching the camo-clad camaraderie of Uncle Si, Phil and sons Willie, Jase and Jep?

Live Your Dream

From a duck call that flinty eyed patriarch Phil Robertson patented in the early 1970s emerged a multimillion dollar empire. Phil turned down a career with the Washington Redskins and also left a secure teaching job (he has a master's degree in education) to build a better duck call. The first year the business barely netted $8,000. As years went by, he incorporated the family into the business, keeping overhead low by selling products from home, going on sales trips himself and putting money back in the business

Lesson: Find a niche you are passionate about, keep overhead low and go build that better mousetrap.

Don't Be Afraid to Try New Things

Phil and Miss Kay are tech Luddites, but they were discovered through the company's homemade hunting videos on YouTube, which son Jep still shoots and directs.

Last year, CEO Willie Robertson bought a winery and of course, hilarity ensued on the grape-stomping episode, but it resulted in undrinkable vino. Since then, they partnered up with a winemaker, and the stuff is selling at select Walmarts for $10 a pop.

Lesson: New endeavors may not work out immediately but keep trying.

Rich is Better, but You Don't Need a Lot

Miss Kay may tell high school sweetheart and husband Phil, "I've been poor with you, and I've been rich with you. Rich is better." The couple still lives in the modest house they bought decades ago that's worth $100,000.

Other family members have bought themselves redneck toys: ATVs, a custom RV and a Ninja sword (of which Si quipped it was so sharp it could take "the hair off a dolphin's chest"). But for the most part they're just as happy to go hunting on the land that Phil bought years ago, his one big splurge.

Lesson: You don't need a lot of money to be, "happy, happy, happy," as Phil's often says.

Play to Your Strengths

Phil picked Willie (who doubled his net worth of $10 million to $20 million this year) as CEO after he show his entrepreneurship at age 10 racking up sales with his own candy concession. Uncle Si may nap more than Willie likes, but he is the man when it comes to making the reeds that create the distinctive duck sounds.

Jase takes the expression "play to your strength" maybe too literally and usually leads the work-shirking hijinks. Yet, he sees the calls get made eventually. Other family members also have important roles and until very recently, family made up 80 per cent of their workforce.

Lesson: In a family business, or any business, everyone needs to know they have a valued role that suits their talents.

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Yes, they are a self-professed family of faith. The laconic Jase sums up their beliefs as "God, family, ducks, in that order." They speak for free at churches nationwide. Willie and wife Korie are big believers in adoption. "The best decision we ever made -– that made the biggest impact on our life --was the adoption of our son Will," Willie said when they were honored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

The family, known in the West Monroe community as generous benefactors, recently created their own Duck Commander Worldwide Foundation.

Lesson: Be thankful for what you have and share with those less fortunate.

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