The underappreciated action hero can teach us a lot about how to succeed.
Among a splash of disturbing happenings, there were many celebrity deaths in 2016. One that went greatly unnoticed, but deserves far more attention, is that of Van Williams, the actor who played the Green Hornet in the 1966 television series of the same name.
Why should Williams be venerated? First, because the show itself brought the great Bruce Lee to the attention of American audiences. But, second, because the character Williams played, the Green Hornet, is one of the most underappreciated super heroes of the twentieth century.
Here we have an intelligent man, who’s simple, crisp and stands for good and was portrayed with more sincerity and less camp than Batman, the reigning television superhero of the time.
The Green Hornet, in his single year and 26 episodes of television glory, is a model that any good, driven, business-person should emulate.
There are three lessons the Green Hornet teaches better than any other action hero of the day.
1. Adversity shouldn’t stop you, in fact, it can launch you.
Playboy, media mogul and the owner and publisher of The Daily Sentinel, Britt Reid assumes the masked guise of the Green Hornet after his father dies in prison. Worse than that, his father was framed for a crime he didn’t commit.
Instead of retreating from the world, Reid puts on a mask and infiltrates the criminal world, taking down bad guys vigilante style and attempting to avenge his father.
Entrepreneur and tech superstar, Steve Jobs, never knew his biological father and he was once fired from his own company. He’s not alone in his set-backs, but successful business people don’t let anything keep them down.
2. Know that you can’t do it alone.
Bruce Lee’s Kato was far more than a chauffeur, and Reid knew it. In the original story (both the comics and radio) Reid saved Kato’s life while traveling in the “Far East.”
Kato was a master martial artist, versed in the art of war, and also (in some versions) the inventor and creator of the famed Black Beauty car. Reid might have the knowledge and drive to be the Green Hornet, but he couldn’t have done it without Kato’s skill set.
Intuit, the makers of Quicken and Quickbooks among other products, was conceived by Scott Cook—whose background was in consumer goods at Procter & Gamble. But Cook couldn’t code well enough, so he found a sidekick, Tom Proulx, who could. (Proulx was Stanford educated.) In 2016, the company brought in $4.7 (million? billion?) in revenue.
A smart business-person knows they can’t do everything. The inventor or creator might need a partner skilled in finance. It’s important to know what you can do, and what help you’ll need to be successful.
3. Success ebbs and flows and your company may take on many forms before truly taking off.
Businesses often go through multiple iterations, some more successful than others. The Green Hornet himself, as well as the multiple versions of The Green Hornet story demonstrate that.
The origin of the Green Hornet was a character in book- then, in 1936, he refined and emerged as a vigilante-hero on radio. Comic books followed, then the television series. There have been several Green Hornet movies.
The success of each re-telling has varied greatly. The radio show was one of the most popular in history, along with The Lone Ranger. The Seth Rogen movie, in 2011, was a critical and box office flop.
So, what about the Green Hornet himself? Britt Reid is, by all measures, a successful businessman. He has all the trapping of a man who knows what to do—the secretary, the clothes, the staff, the chauffeur. But, his smartest move was to recognize that he needed to do things differently to really succeed in life. He donned a mask, and dove into the world of crime, dishing out smooth, effective, vigilante-style justice like no action hero before, or since.