Matthew Herper, Forbes Staff
Climbing the corporate ladder – or figuring out when to jump off – has never been harder. Luckily you can learn everything you need to know from the ultimate business renegade: the spice smuggler from Corellia who became a general, and saved a galaxy.
Even if you never get to be a Jedi Knight, you can emerge victorious by being lucky, clever, and true to your gut. Here are some lessons from everyone’s favorite scruffy looking nerfherder, along with real-life examples to prove their worth. No precognition, levitation, or mind control are required. You might even get to fall in love with a princess.
1) Have an ally who will support you no matter what.
“Chewie and I will take care of this. You stay here.”
Whatever your career, it’s helpful to have a co-pilot who will stand by your side no matter what, who will charge a platoon of Stormtroopers on the Death Star, howling and blasting everything in sight, or help you fly your starship directly into an asteroid field to escape an Imperial Star Destroyer. It’s even more helpful if that co-pilot is a seven-foot-three-inch Wookie from the planet Kashyyyk who can tear people’s arms off when he loses a chess match.
2) Be a mentor – you might get paid back later.
“That’s two you owe me, junior.”
Had he not rescued Luke Skywalker from near-certain death on the ice planet of Hoth, Solo himself would have remained remained frozen in carbonite, used as a wall decoration by the villainous Jabba the Hutt. Mentoring a Jedi can be a good way to become a legend yourself.
This lesson is true on Earth, too. If Intel founder Gordon Moore had not been replaced by his lieutenant Andy Grove, would Intel have become the force it is today? (And Grove tutored Craig Barrett, his own successor.) Hip-hop impresario Jay-Z’s mentorship of Kanye West paid off with a joint album, Watch the Throne, and a tour that were huge hits and helped both rappers.
Han Solo’s excuse to Jabba was that he “got sidetracked” when he came across the Rebel Alliance, and was on his way to pay back the villainous slug. Without that distraction, Han Solo would just have been another scoundrel in Jabba’s retinue.
Life, as John Lennon said, is what happens when we’re planning other things. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook when he was supposed to be going to college. Steve Jobs’ exile from Apple gave the world Pixar. Your biggest opportunity might come when you have to ferry an old man and an annoying kid to Alderaan.
4) Trust what you know
“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
Even as he became ever more respectable, Han Solo’s successes were always the result of what he learned as a smuggler. He smuggled himself in hidden compartments when the Millennium Falcon was captured by the Death Star. He disobeyed orders to rescue Luke Skywalker. And, ever the trickster, he gained entry to bunker on Endor by pretending to be an Imperial officer and asking for reinforcements. His success as a rebel officer was not in spite of his history as a scoundrel, but because of it. It’s why Princess Leia fell for him, right?
5) Shoot first
“Yeah, but this time, I’ve got the money…”
If Han hadn’t vaporized Greedo, the whole Star Wars saga might not have happened. If IBM had followed this rule when Bill Gates arrived to sell it an operating system, there might be no Microsoft.