We can’t all be born James Tiberius Kirk. So in my opinion, it’s better to let the leaders lead and handle the pressures and responsibility of managing other people’s lives. Many of us are far better off out on our own, striking dirty smuggling deals in the back room of certain cantinas then finishing up the day by making the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. Freelancers live from one contract to the next, enjoying and fearing all the freedom and insecurities this brings in equal measure. It can be a tough life, but when it comes to Sci-Fi freelancing, for me, it’s all about the Han.
So here are a few life lessons from the legendary space cowboy.
Confidence is Everything: Old Ben Kenobi didn’t go looking for just any completely legit freighter captain when he ventured into that cantina in Mos Eisley Space port. Like all employers, he needed that special someone; the kind of freelancer who stands out as capable and confident in their ability. After all, within a few minutes of talking to Han, the old Jedi Master knew that Han Solo was the only guy he could have hired.
Han’s main selling point is the Millennium Falcon, a light freighter capable of insanely fast speeds and he’s not afraid to advertise the fact. That’s good because freelancers should never be afraid to self-promote, especially if they do so with that particular kind of confidence that turns a good pitch into a great one. Also, consider keeping a Wookie around. Employers find it hard to say no to a Wookie. Almost as hard as knowing what a Wookie’s saying (another talent Han has in his favour).
Connections mean Opportunity: In the middle of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, Han and co. find themselves in a spot of trouble. Han makes the wise choice to call upon a freelancer’s most valuable resource: The Forc- er, friends, he calls on friends. In this case, old friend/partner/fellow smuggler Lando Carlissian. He knows he has the talents required.
Life has a way of mixing things up and as a result, one day you might wake up a fugitive on the run from the Empire. Therefore building a galaxy-spanning network of people you can trust now, makes great sense. It just might save you from that wing of TIE interceptors gaining on your little YT-1200. Han never fails to finish a contract or protect his friends, because without them he’d be lost… in space.
Know Yourself, Know your Enemy: Near the end of ‘Return of The Jedi’ Lando says he’s surprised that the rebels hadn’t asked Han to take command of the fleet, to which Han nonchalantly replies, “Well, who says they didn’t? But I ain’t crazy. You’re the respectable one, remember?”
The Solo knows he’s not built to command the fledgling rebellion fleet. And it’s an offer you should be wary of too. The opportunity to go fulltime legit and trade in your freelancing space cowboy lifestyle for a regular wage will crop up, and it will be tempting… but that’s not how you work – is it? It’s a passing phase. If you’ve made it this far in your freelance life, keep trusting those instincts.
Be the Quicker Draw: In the Mos Eisley cantina, when Greedo confronted Han with the sole intention of claiming Jabba’s bounty, Han didn’t think twice. Regardless of what George Lucas claims, Han Solo knew what to do and when to do it. Backed into a corner by a successful bounty hunter, the smuggler was almost out of options and time -s a situation many freelancers fall prey to (minus the alien bounty hunters. Hopefully.). Don’t let others get ahead of you simply by beating you to the pitch. Be the first to the table your pitch and don’t miss your chance.
Your Reputation is One of the few Things you actually Own, so look after It: Solo isn’t perfect; he’s made mistakes, and there’s one mistake in particular that any freelancer can learn from. As a freelancer, you’re a problem solver, so you need to be the go-to-guy your clients call when they have a problem they need solving pronto. Solve it and your reputation soars. Prove unreliable and it’s over; your reputation suffers. Han really should have been upstanding and paid Jabba the second he could. It was understandable, even to a Hutt, that Han had to dump the cargo and run when the Empire came down on his ship. But after paying his debt, he should have started on repairing his reputation with Jabba – a very powerful member of the Hutt cartel. Remember kids, if you don’t pay your debts, you end up in the back of Slave 1, encased in carbonite.
And that really will freeze your freelancing assets…
The last time Wolf Vanberg attempted the Kessel run, he did it with a Harrower-class Imperial Dreadnought