Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey outlines the basic structure of (nearly) all great narratives.
His framework holds for The Odyssey, Pixar movies, and some true stories — like Ju Rhyu’s experience as co-founder and CEO of Hero Cosmetics. Campbell’s 12-stage journey starts with the call to adventure.
For Ju, the call from a hydrocolloid pimple patch she stumbled upon during two years in Korea. She knew the product could be huge stateside, but she wasn’t ready to start a company on her own. “The commitment and then also the financial burden made me chicken out,” she said.
But in Campbell’s framework (and Ju’s life), heroes can’t ignore the call to adventure forever. Three years after she left Korea, Ju returned to her concept with co-founders, and Hero and its Mighty Patch were born.
This past fall, Church & Dwight acquired the bootstrapped cosmetics brand for $630 million.
But Hero’s story isn’t over, and Rhyu doesn’t need to be its eternal main character. She’s open to stepping aside as CEO one day if it’s right for the business. “Part of the entrepreneurial journey and the Hero journey is you learn on the way,” she said. “But sometimes there's a moment where you need someone with answers.”
It’s a hero’s attitude: To do what’s best for the object of your affection, even if it’s a sacrifice.