Funny Business – 5 Business Lessons from Star Wars

Patrick Murphy
By Patrick Murphy | I have been with Sutherland since September 2013. Prior to that I worked in Agency Recruiting. I was born in England, and moved to the US in 1998. I attended SUNY Brockport and graduated with a bachelors in Business. Two qualities I prefer in leaders (and that I try to emulate myself) are candor and a clear sense of direction.

Business Lessons

Star Wars may possibly be my favorite franchise of all time. I’ve seen all the films, read all the books, played all the games, and so on. So for this edition of Funny Business, I’m going to get some sound business advice from some of the galaxy’s most notorious characters.

Five essential business lessons from Star Wars:

  1. “Bring ’em on. I’d prefer a straight fight to all this sneaking around.” — Han Solo

Sometimes hiding in the secret cargo hold is a solid idea. But other times in life, you have to face the enemy head on. Sometimes that means confronting your enemies, and other times it means being transparent and honest with your allies. As long as you’ve got a good blaster by your side, you’ll be fine.

  1. “Named must your fear be before banish it you can.” – Yoda

Ah Yoda: the old, wise, all-knowing character who everyone ignores. Yoda has lived for hundreds of years, and is a constant guardian against the pull of the dark side. He knows that fear is the trigger, and that in order to control fear you must understand exactly what drives it. The anxieties, jealousies, resentments, and doubts must all be named. The original trilogy doesn’t end with Luke Skywalker killing the Emperor and Darth Vader. Ultimately, Luke throws down his weapon. He knows that victory via lightsaber would be a definitive defeat, as it was for his father before him.

  1. “In my experience there is no such thing as luck.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

One of my favorite business quotes goes as follows: “I believe in luck, and the harder I work, the more of it I have.” Old Ben tries to teach Luke this concept throughout the original trilogy. Through the use of the force, Ben is always aware of what is needed, and is willing to go to any lengths to ensure that they succeed. Like any great leader, he sees providence in the horrific things that happen. For example, once Ben found out the Empire was looking for R2-D2, he would have surely known that the trail would lead back to Luke’s Uncle and Aunt. He likely knows that this set of events will ultimately end with Luke joining him in his quest. Later, while on board the death star, he knows that turning to face Vader will allow Luke, Leia, and Han to escape. Ben actively makes these choices. He does not allow circumstance to dictate his decisions.

  1. “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.” – Han Solo

Another classic quote from Han Solo. The man should write a parenting book! In this scene, Luke has just shot down his first tie fighter. He cannot contain his excitement, and turns to Han to express his satisfaction. Han, like the seasoned pilot he is, knows that the fight is not over yet, and that they must stay focused to win the battle. The lesson: a small success does not mean much in the context of the larger picture. Stay focused and keep to task, and success will come easier. Now let’s blow this thing and go home.

  1. “Stay on target.” – Davish “Pops” Krail

I know what you’re thinking. What kind of nerd knows the name of the y-wing pilot who says one line before he dies? Well, I do. I know all the names of the pilots. Anyway, the trench run mission that destroys the first Death Star is very dangerous. Pilots enter the trench knowing that turbo Laser Turrets will be firing at them from the front, and that Darth Vader and his Tie escort will be chasing them from the rear. Only the last minute intervention by Han Solo allows Luke to take the final decisive shot. Most of the pilots entering the trench died. And yet, they went in anyways, knowing what had to be done to save the rebellion from total destruction. The lesson: sometimes, even when you know how bad the consequences will be, you need to charge ahead in pursuit of a larger goal.

Bonus: “It’s a trap.” – Admiral Ackbar

Don’t be stupid. If you are surrounded on two sides, remember that space is three dimensional. You can just run away…

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