Han Solo is back in the spotlight. The dashing smuggler was introduced to the world in 1977 in the original Star Wars movie, back when it was the only Star Wars movie. From the start, Harrison Ford’s Han captivated audiences with his swagger, his sass, and his cocky space-cowboy attitude.
Solo: A Star Wars Story opens on May 25, with Alden Ehrenreich playing a young Solo years before he met Luke and Leia. Fans expect to see Han win the famed Millennium Falcon from its previous owner, Lando Calrissian, find out how he meets co-pilot Chewbacca, and to watch the ship make the famed Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs (yes, it’s a unit of distance, not time–we’re just going to go with it).
Some fans are doubtful that Ehrenreich can fill Ford’s shoes, but when tickets for Solo went on sale in early May, they sold so fast they doubled presales for Marvel’s blockbuster hit Black Panther in less than 24 hours.
Of all the wild and crazy Star Wars characters in George Lucas’ universe, Han Solo just might be the most memorable–and the most entrepreneurial. Han built a smuggling business from the ground up, winning a ship he never could have afforded, modifying it on his own dime, building a partnership with Chewie, and crafting working relationships both good (Luke) and uh, questionable (Jabba the Hutt).
Here’s a look at three classic quotes from Han Solo and how today’s Earth businesspeople can learn from them.
1. “Never tell me the odds.”
Business implication: Ignore the naysayers and create your own chances.
In The Empire Strikes Back, droid C-3PO warns Han that “the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to one.” It’s not welcome news, and Solo snarls back, “never tell me the odds!” It’s maybe his most famous line, and for good reason. New businesses are navigating their own asteroid fields, trying to dodge everything from lack of money to a challenging marketplace, and sometimes, knowing how much is stacked against you is less than helpful.
But it’s important to know that when Han blurted this out to Threepio, he wasn’t being purely a bold fool. He knew himself and his piloting skills, and he knew his ship. He’d already put in hours and hours of work to improve the Falcon’s odds of making it successfully through. Han Solo created his own odds.
2: “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
Business implication: Trust yourself first, but always be flexible.
While watching Luke train with his lightsaber in the original Star Wars, Han delivers this classic diss of the Jedi ways. It’s a classic Han way of thinking. Little is known about his childhood (though Solo: A Star Wars Story might clear that up), but he’s pretty obviously a self-made man. Whatever he earned, he had to earn completely on his own, so it’s no wonder that he snorted at the idea of an all-controlling Force.
That’s not a bad attitude for an entrepreneur. Han believed in himself and in taking practical, hands-on steps to survive and thrive. He didn’t trust anything to a mystical force he couldn’t see or touch. But it’s interesting to point out that after decades of experience, his opinions shifted. In 2015’s The Force Awakens, he meets up with a new generation of Star Wars characters. When Rey (Daisy Ridley) questions the existence of the Jedi, it’s Han himself who admits he’s changed his mind.
“Crazy thing is, it’s true,” he tells her. The Force. The Jedi. All of it. It’s all true.”
Han shows that even the stubbornness that served him so well as a daring smuggler has its limits. He’s lived long enough to learn that every idea he had as a young man wasn’t correct. Sometimes even adults learn and change their minds.
3. “Save your strength. There’ll be another time.”
Business implication: Know when to wait, and when to take advantage.
In The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader prepares to freeze Han Solo in carbonite, testing a device he plans to later use on Luke Skywalker. Solo’s Wookiee partner Chewbacca attempts to save him by tearing Vader’s minions to shreds, but it’s Han who stops him even at the presumed loss of his own life.
But it’s how he stops Chewie that is interesting here. His eye is on a bigger goal: He wants the Wookiee to live on, to help protect Princess Leia and Luke and defeat the Empire. In his mind, it’s an easy tradeoff, despite the fact that his own life is in danger.
This is only the second movie in the Star Wars saga, but Han is already showing how he’s developed and matured. No longer the bossy smuggler who was only in it for the paycheck, he’s playing the long game now. And–spoiler–it works. It’s a great lesson for any entrepreneur: Sometimes you have to be bold and take that first shot, and other times, it’s enough just to live to fight another day.
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