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What Star Trek Can Teach You About Your Money

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Trekkies get into regular phaser-fights over the merits of the two most famous starship captains, Kirk vs Picard. But at the end of the day there’s only one James T. Kirk, a man of staggering ambition and supreme confidence that went boldly into every situation. If Kirk were a real-life person living in 21st Century America (get a life!), he’d probably be a dashing business tycoon on the order of Sir Richard Branson.

Even more than his strategic acumen and his luck with the ladies, Kirk is best known for always having a quip at the ready. One cannot doubt the real-life business and entrepreneurial messages mixed throughout the “Canon of Kirk.” And while it may be a stretch to suggest that the entire Star Trek galaxy was an allegory for how to succeed in the marketplace, let’s operate from within this paradigm. Let’s take a look at what Star Trek can teach you about your money.

Risk Management

“You saw the alert light. Why didn’t you tell me?” – ‘The Corbomite Maneuver’

In an uncertain economy, knowing risks is very important. If the nature of a dubious investment or any significant financially-related maneuver can be brought to light, it should be. Subsequently, it is important to surround yourself with those not afraid to give valuable advice.

“No. Not like this. I haven’t faced death. I’ve cheated death. I’ve tricked my way out of death and patted myself on the back for my ingenuity.” – The Wrath of Khan

For those who have witnessed the market’s ups and downs, experience is paramount. Recessions come and go, and while some are worse than others, having weathered a storm or two enables an individual to reflect on past moves.

“We’ve got to risk implosion. We may explode into the biggest fireball this part of the galaxy has seen, but we’ve got to take that one in a million chance.” – ‘The Naked Time’

Risk is necessary. One of the worst mistakes individuals can make during difficult financial times is to avoid risk entirely. Of course a ‘one in a million chance’ typically ought to be avoided. The old claim, “with great risk comes great reward,” however, is axiomatic in precarious times.

Downsizing

“No more blah, blah, blah!” – ‘Miri’

Captain James T. Kirk was a no-nonsense kind of guy, the kind of guy that many companies would be happy to have at the helm of their corporation. Ready to go where no man has gone before, Kirk could be trusted to to trim the fat and to make cutbacks, when necessary. Streamlined efficiency should be the goal of any well-run Enterprise, Starship or not.

Labor

“Not one hundred percent efficient, of course…but nothing ever is.” – ‘Metamorphosis’

A leader should always strive for excellence. However, being a leader and having perfectionist standards can be frustrating and can often result in micromanagement, which ultimately is unproductive. and hinders growth. Understanding the roles of labor and management is absolutely necessary for the success of any entrepreneur.

Management

“Genius doesn’t work on an assembly line basis. You can’t simply say, ‘Today I will be brilliant.’” – ‘The Ultimate Computer’

“All your people must learn before you can reach for the stars.” – ‘The Gamesters of Triskelion’

Ever since Adam Smith outlined his division of labor in The Wealth of Nations, the merits of filling each role in a company with the desired expertise has been stressed as a necessity for economic growth. Perhaps most important is the role played by management. For every executive would be lost without their Spock, this Enterprise’s pragmatic and eminently logical first officer.

Training

“Everybody remember where we parked.” – Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Training is important, even in the areas not typically thought of as necessary. Acquired tools help understanding the role each individual plays more broadly, and can help a larger team succeed.

Market Share

“There are some things worth dying for.” – ‘Errand of Mercy’

Increasing market-share is the foremost goal of all businesses. To most, it is worth sacrificing greatly for. Mortality aside, this note illustrates that business success typically comes at a great price.

“I’ve always known I’ll die alone.” – Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Hopefully, it’s not that bad.

“Conquest is easy. Control is not.” – ‘Mirror, Mirror’

With regards to market domination, it is important to understand the complexities of staying on top. Companies that make it to the apex of their industry typically find themselves the target of malicious campaigns by their competitors. This tends to make staying at the top of one’s game a constant struggle.

Strategic Alliances

“There’s another way to survive. Mutual trust…and help.” – ‘Day of the Dove’

No one said that any one man (or woman) has to go it alone. For many, a partnership such as a marriage, can be useful in pursuing economic security, working together for a common goal. In the marketplace, partnerships are formed on the supposition that two or more individuals can accomplish exponentially more working together than if they were to work independently.

Work Ethic

“Galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young, Doctor.”-The Wrath of Khan

Many young men make the mistake of pursuing enterprise before they are serious about it. But wise men such as Kirk understand that such a mistake can be costly. To great minds such as Kirk, one’s leadership is the natural result of maturity, which is predicated on steadfastness and focus, among other things.

Leadership

“The needs of the one outweighed the needs of the many.” – Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

“I don’t need to be lectured by you. I was out saving the galaxy when your grandfather was still in diapers. Personally, I think the galaxy owes me one.” – Star Trek Generations

Experience, knowledge, and charisma. These traits of leadership are not learned overnight. And as a result some individuals are more important to others, at least when growth is considered.

Cross-cultural Awareness

“Well that’s simply the way they talk here. Nobody pays any attention to you unless you swear every other word.” – Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

“Note to Galley: Romulan Ale no longer to be served at diplomatic functions.” – Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

In the last several decades high-level executives have begun to consulting with cultural anthropologists with regards to conducting business between different cultures. Most famously, there was a major trend in the 1980s of Western businesspeople learning Japanese because of that country’s rapid growth; today the same is true for China. What is important to note is that there are certain aspects of conducting business that often go overlooked by many, but are crucial to the success of business – especially in a super-competitive marketplace.