I read the Hulkster’s book about a month ago, having seen it on the shelf at a local bookstore. Being a MASSIVE fan, I immediately picked it up and started reading it in the adjacent coffee shop. A mere 3 hours later, I had read the book cover to cover and was looking forward to reading it that night, more thoroughly. When I finally did this, I realized there were so many facets to this book, I needed to read it yet again.
As with many books I read, I took notes. My notes were basically just things I wanted to remember. Lessons, if you will. I realized that what I saw on the legal pad after I was finished my 3rd read was not just a pathway to success. It was a road-map to being an amazing person. So, here’s basically a more codified version of my notes in the form of 5 things I learned from the greatest icon in sports entertainment.
1. Don’t just achieve your goals, destroy them.
Hulk’s rise to fame is not a product of luck. It was a product of analysis and action, the most prominent of his talents being the awareness of holes in the industry and using his talents to fill them. But, even that wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough for him to be a face in the crowd of the wrestling industry. He wanted to be the best. He KNEW he could be the best. So, he put a series of actions in place to make sure that he WAS the best. It was NO accident. He simply willed it into his mind, and acted it into existence.
2. Be gracious to everyone.
When I was vacationing in Clearwater, FL in the summer of 1999, I saw Hulk on Clearwater Beach and having no qualms about it, I went up to him and shook his hand and told him that he was a childhood hero of mine, and that it was an honor to meet him. His response is something I will never forget for as long as I live.
“No brother, the honor is mine.”
He was just so cool about it, that I promised myself once I became well known for SOMETHING, I would be that way towards my fans. Gracious and inviting, taking the time to acknowledge even the smallest hint of acknowledgment. That experience made it perfectly clear to me who Hulk was as a person and who he tried (and succeeded) to be outside of the WWE biosphere.
Reading his book was a similar experience. When confronted with people who were, shall we say less than pleasant, Hulk would respond with grace and poise. When confronted with adoring fans and colleagues, he would respond with the same. The reason Hulk is respected as an entertainment icon, is precisely because of the respect he gives to his fans and associates. I’m not saying this to be disrespectful, but I met the late “Macho Man” Randy Savage, another childhood hero of mine, in the same summer and he was remarkably less gracious. He really was kind of a dick. I could say more, but not even I will speak ill of the dead. Besides, he was probably having a bad day.
3. Perception is reality, and don’t be afraid tailor your approach.
When Hulk Hogan joined Kevin Nash and Scott Hall in the NWO story line in WCW, he made a switch from face (good guy) to heel (bad guy). Coming off the steroid scandal and everything I’m sure played a part in it, but on the whole he felt it was time for a change in the persona that Hulk came to exhibit in his on-air dealings. Off the air however, things were very much the same as they always were. He was still the dude who would acknowledge his fans and give them the respect they deserved. The reality that he was playing a role on TV, and that this role had very little to do who he was as a person, was a juxtaposition of elements that made him even more popular.
Adding that new dimension to his character’s reality, vis-a-vis the face/heel turn was entertaining, but also showcased Hulk’s ability to read people and bend reality to best suit his fans to entertain them. In other words, he tailored his character to suit the wants and needs of his company and fans. In doing so, he created a new reality for his character which resonated among his fans in a way that the pure and wholesome stock Hulkster character couldn’t.
4. If you get knocked down 7 times, you’d better get up 8.
Hulk has not been without his share of adversity and hardship. The dissolution of his marriage, for example, was one that almost killed him. But, he picked himself up and kept going, knowing that tomorrow would bring a better set of circumstances and a new set of opportunities to grab on to.
When he first auditioned for a wrestling organization, one of the other wrestlers literally broke his damn leg. He healed, then went back. Every time he was met with a challenge, he met it head on and beat it. His mentality was that it’s only when you give up that you actually fail.
When he got the part in Rocky 3, his boss Vince MacMahon, Sr., told him that if he went to shoot that film he would never again work for him. Hulk wanted to do the movie, so he did it and went to wrestle over in Japan. Eventually he was hired by MacMahon’s son Vince Jr., who has made the company into a massively profitable venture.
5. Find wisdom every where.
Hulk made it to where he is because he modeled other people, made decisions based on data and his own intuition and on the whole, absorbed everything he was exposed to that could help him. When his life was down, he found wisdom in self-help books such as “The Secret” and used the information to his benefit. In the latter example of using “The Secret”, while he himself is fairly religious, he even said himself, “use what you need and discard the rest.”
Hulk’s life is a shining example of the “Observe/Gather, Analyze, Plan and Execute” cycle. This is exactly what he did every day of his life, with the results that are clearly visible to anyone with a television, or access to YouTube.
Do you know why Hulk Hogan is such an amazing person, to ME? Not because of his prowess as an entertainer, although I have many happy memories of sitting on the floor of my shitty West Berlin house watching wrestling on Saturday mornings with my little brother (The Hulk Hogan/Ultimate Warrior match at one of the Wrestlemanias remain a great moment in my life, though I’m still pissed that he lost.) Not because of how much he loves his fans, though again that’s one of the things that endears him to so many people.
It’s because when I was a kid (and even now) he was THE example of what one could do when they applied all their energy to accomplishing what they wanted for themselves. I’m not so arrogant to say I’m his biggest fan, but I can tell you that without Hulk Hogan, there would be no Johnathan Bane. There will be Goldbegrs, there will be Steve Austins, but there will only be ONE Hulk Hogan.
Now, if I could only get a picture with the dude some day. =)