What I Learned Acting In Star Trek


from wikipedia.org

What I Learned Acting In Star Trek

This last weekend we again watched the recent J.J. Abrams Star Trek film from a couple years back.   Awesome movie.

I thought back to when I was an actor in Star Trek from the original series.   Working with the other actors on set was life changing for me.

But let’s talk about this latest movie version of the series for a minute.  It is a look back to the beginning of Star Trek – a “prequel” view at how the original characters, (i.e. the likes of Shatner, Nimoy and Deforest Kelly) all started out; how they formed their relationships and beliefs.  About why and how they go about “boldly going” so to speak. 

It made me think about my original days involved in Star Trek and what influence it had and has on my life today.  My experience acting in Star Trek was huge.  Those days on the “Trek” set shaped some very important things about me and how I act today. 

Maybe you could learn from it too.

Star Trek wasn’t much of a hit when it originally aired late in the 60’s, but in syndication all through the 1970’s, it rocked. 

I have 3 brothers and we were all growing up in the 70’s.  

William Shatner and his crew had nothing on us; truth was, we were Star Trek.

I was Capt James T. Kirk.  My first officer Spock (played by my older, sci-fi book loving, overtly logical brother Kevin), was incessantly harangued by Dr. “Bones” McCoy played by Brother Paul.   Paul and Kevin kind of had that relationship off set at times, so it was a good fit.  My littlest brother James played the role that offers the focal lesson for today.

James always played (he had no choice) …… “The Guard ….Who Went Bad

You gotta have a bad guy sometimes.  It makes it more fun.   It gives you a purpose.  It gives you a “mission”; a mission to succeed, to win and sometimes, to save the world.

Baby brother James had a rough time of it when you think about it.  He always started out as part of the “crew” (which he liked) but only for a while (which he didn’t).   His role, being about 7 years old, was always to guard the ship and crew as he slowly moved from room to room.   (One bedroom was the “Bridge”, the other was “SickBay” and the rest of the little house was whatever dangerous planet we beamed down to).  

Suddenly James (aka “The Guard…Who Went Bad”) was forced to “snap” and turn on the crew, putting our mission at risk.  Racing through the house we would chase James, tackle him,  and even though we had only set our phasers to “stun”,  we somehow always killed him – his body blown to bits all over the living room ( somehow that was better than the “disappearing thing” that happened with the phasers on TV.)   Good Times.

Gotta have a bad guy sometimes.   That sticks with me.   I have to have a purpose occasionally, to defeat something.   My guess is you might too.

Maybe you work hard everyday to beat down this Guard Gone Bad sketchy economy thing.   Maybe you strategize, work weekends and nights to knock this thing out and grow the business despite what seems like an incredibly hard mission.

Maybe you work up a sweat by3 o’clock pounding out calls and working hard to have conversations with your customers  because you are fighting this Guard Gone Bad enemy that is someone’s false perception that you “can’t” do something.  Take that Guard Gone Bad; don’t tell me I can’t do something. 

Maybe the Guard Gone Bad for you is the competition.  You won’t let “these other guys” take your market share, take your sales or take your future away from you.  Nope; skip the phaser, give me the photon torpedo.

Maybe the Guard Gone Bad for you is a demon you are battling inside yourself.  And it would be so easy to give up and check into Sick Bay but ain’t no way that is going to happen.  

So maybe ( no assuredly),   there is something good to be said about finding a foil, about finding that enemy to defeat and about creating and/or finding that Guard Gone Bad.  

Thanks to my cast mates in the original series produced in Norwood, MA in late 70’s and especially to James.  Sorry you got killed so many times bro, but at least it wasn’t in vain. 


Till next time,

Grow The Business.




3 Frogs


3 Frogs

I had (and have) other posts ready to go for the New Year -all with of course the usual focus on helping you and me “grow the business”. 

But I am stealing shamelessly from the message my local Parish Priest gave yesterday at church services cuz’ his message was frankly better than anything I could have written for today.

“There’s an old adage about three frogs” he said.   “Three Frogs sat on a log and one decided he would jump.  How many frogs are left on the log?”

Some answered “Two!” but most mumbled or said nothing.

“The answer of course, is three.” Father Paul said.

I had never heard of this 3 frog adage but the message was both obvious and stunning to me.  Father Paul filled in the blanks in his short sermon.  Decision is not action.  All of your dreams and goals and resolutions and lists we make this time of year aren’t worth much if we really don’t act upon them.

I’m guilty of this.  For 10 years, I’ve written and kept my New Year’s resolutions and goals and plans and lists nearby me at all times.  I look at them often.  I’ve achieved many.  Ok, some.    I looked at them all in fact this last week just to prepare for setting this year’s goals.

Last year I made the decision to limit my 2011 goals to 3 actionable things versus carrying about 10 each year in which I strived.  Each of these three things was important.  If I am honest with myself though,  I got just one achieved and partially one of another so I batted about .400.  Pretty sad for a whole year and only 3 big dreams.

I’m not going to be that unmoving frog this year.   And I’m not going to pat myself on the back for just “deciding” to do exciting and different things this year and that I was able to write it down and look at it. 

 Nope, I’m jumping this time. 

 Till next time,

Grow The Business.




I think I’m done with S.M.A.R.T. Goals. 

It’s the time of year now when so many of us are in a frenzy over setting and writing annual goals for ourselves or our staffs.

You remember those SMART goals don’t you?  Goals that you set, according to the formula,  should be;

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely


Yeah OK; got it.

It’s not that there is something terribly wrong with SMART goals; the tenets are solid.   It’s more that I’m not sure SMART goals go far enough in reflecting what drives real people and real business anymore.  It’s more that SMART goals may not be so..um…smart anymore.

For 30 years (yep, in 1981 this formula first appeared) SMART Goals have served us well.  But it’s time for a needed upgrade.  The world is in a different place.  And people are in a different place.  

So before you put those final touches on the SMART goal setting sheets you have proliferating your desks and email boxes, have a look at what I think is a better way.  

S.M.I.L.E Goals  

Strength Focused:  No one person will ever be perfect.  And no one person typically has as many weaknesses as strengths, yet much of our goal setting is often focused on goals  that “fix” a problem or weak area.   But what if all of your annual goals were focused on taking your greatest strengths and either applying them more or making them stronger? Where would we be?  Let’s say you are great at networking.  Set a SMILE goal to build a seminar on that topic where you are required to teach others. What if you are great at floor coaching?  Set a Smart goal that has you delegate many of your other tasks to staff or colleagues so you can do significantly more floor coaching.    Strength Focused goals get you to do more of what you do well.  That’s smart.

Modifiable:  This tenet is the acknowledgement of the age old “elephant in the room” in that many goals written at the beginning of the year are often by the end of the year, ridiculously irrelevant.  Every December from my staff, I usually get two lists; one list that is all the evidence and data to support the SMART goals we set on paper a year before and the other list is called “Accomplishments”.  Rarely do the two match.  Sad.  You could say that that reflects on poor goal setting on my part but often you would be very wrong.  Stuff happens.  Stuff changes.  Business happens.   Business changes.  In the space of a week or a month, your initiatives and priorities could be yesterday’s news.   Often your SMART goals set in February are meaningless by June because you are working on things completely different, more needed or more important.   Modifiable allows you to edit, amplify or delete.  That’s smart.

Inspectable: There’s a difference between measurable and inspect-able.   Measurable is measurable.  Inspect-able is measurable but transparent.  You have stakeholders be they your customers, your boss, your team or your shareholders and inspect-able brings a higher level of trust when it comes to measuring.  Trust I contend, is far more important today in business, than it was in 1981.  Post your goal metrics on the shop wall, in your cubicle or at your desk.  SMILE goals should be ones that don’t require 4 hours of data collection each quarter and a 1 our meeting with your boss to see how you are progressing “so far”.  Inspectable makes it easy to see how you are doing.  Inspectable goals show you have nothing to hide.  That’s smart.

Learning Focused:  If you are not learning you are dying.  Goals to achieve are fine. Goals to achieve that don’t reflect learning or growth are not.  You can do both.  You must do both.  More than ever, landscapes in business change at speeds that make even the hardest working the brightest folks cringe.  It’s hard to keep up, but we must.  In fact, keeping up is just table stakes now and keeping ahead is what is truly needed.  Achieve those numbers yes, but SMILE goals must have an aspect that force you to continuously and consciously learn from that achievement and position you for more success in an ever more complex business world.  Learning focused gives goal setting a leading edge.   That’s smart.

Enduring:  If I had a dollar for every time I forgot what my SMART goals were for the year I’d be rich.  If I had a dollar for every time I and my staff forgot what their individual SMART goals were I’d be filthy rich.   You know it’s true.  Goals are often either “the same every year” (hit forecasted quota plan of….), or “breathtakingly boring” (manage expenses within a budget of….).  Take the expected stuff out of the goal setting and do it the SMILE way.  Create goals that endure, that people remember and that will stick:  “Land face to face meetings with 2 fortune 500 companies by the end of Q2…”, “Create a video campaign that generates viral buzz with 5 digit visits and link backs from 2 of these 15 influential bloggers..” or “Make the pain of the customers from brand ABC as they transition to brand XYZ go away by the end of Q1…”.  You get the idea.  Enduring makes it easier to remember, easier to focus and easier to succeed.  That’s smart.

S.M.I.L.E goals reflect a truer reality of the human and business condition; i.e. what drives people and what really happens (and is needed) in the business world.   SMART goals aren’t something I’d necessarily throw away.   They are a decent formula but my advice is you should use them only if you start with a SMILE.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.