Startup trek episode 24, Conspiracy

Sarah A. Downey
Oct 17 · 4 min read

Season 1, episode 24: “Conspiracy”

Lesson: if you get stuck, remember why you started and reevaluate

This post is part of my ongoing quest to watch every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and pull one startup, entrepreneurship, tech, or investing lesson from each.

“Captain Walker Keel, an old friend of Picard’s, uses a top-secret frequency, thus excluding informing Riker, to summon him to a top-secret meeting with two other captain. The vague innuendo about a plot to take over a strategic sector of the Federation by replacing mysteriously dying Starfleet officers doesn’t quite impress Picard, but he reconsiders after Keel and his crew die in an explosion. So he intends with Riker to visit Starfleet HQ, where he will dine with admirals and their aide Dexter Remmick, while Riker keeps an eye on admiral Aaron, who insists to visit the modernized Enterprise, actually carrying an alien brain-parasite.” Storyline summary by KGF Kissers on IMDB.


You may or may not have noticed that it’s been a while since my last Startup Trek post. Five months — but who’s counting? As I said in the beginning of this journey, I’m doing this to have fun, watch a show that’s been on my list forever and that seems to hit all the sci-fi elements I love, and hopefully pull out a few helpful tech/startup/investing/entrepreneurship lessons as I go. I’m not promising to do this within any time frame; sometime before I die works. I’m also not promising that they’ll all be good.

So not that I owe you an explanation, dear reader, but I’m going to give you one because I don’t like leaving the elephant in the room unaddressed. Plus it’s perhaps an interesting insight into the creative process, so it’ll be the lesson for this post. It’s meta.

Basically I started feeling like writing this blog was work. I’ve got enough work as it is, and that was a bummer. I’m liking TNG a lot and wanted to rip through episodes quickly, but I started feeling like every time I watched one I’d have to be in the right mood, have something nearby on which to take notes, and come up with something useful to say. Are these lofty goals? Not really, but they still felt imposing to me after 23 posts written. I kept feeling like I should pick it back up, but there never felt like a good time. Then suddenly it was five months later, and here we are.

Thus it was time to reevalulate. As with any project, it’s helpful to pick your head up and ask yourself: Why am I doing this? Why did I start? What about this is a drag right now? What do I need to change to keep going?

I’ve been lucky to be able to work with an executive coach over the past year — Heather Jassy of Reboot — who’s amazing. She’s great at pushing me to stop the constant motion of my mind and my life and ask questions like these. One of her suggestions is that people add personal calendar appointments to check in with themselves on the things they’re figuring out. Not sure if your career is right for you? Ask yourself in six months how it’s going. Ask yourself in a year if the startup you’re building fulfills the mission you had when you began. Daily check-ins are useful, too. If and when you feel yourself checking out at work or in a relationship, or feeling uncomfortable or unsatisfied, take note of exactly what’s happening in that moment so you can first notice patterns, and second address the cause of those feelings.

My answers to these questions as they relate to Startup Trek:

Why am I doing this?

Same as I said above: to have fun, watch a show that’s been on my list forever and that seems to hit all the sci-fi elements I love, and hopefully pull out a few helpful tech/startup/investing/entrepreneurship lessons as I go.

Why did I start?

I like writing and wanted an excuse to do it all the time without a high quality bar that’d prevent me from producing. I was also sick of not having seen TNG because that’s lame as a sci-fi fan. And this seemed like a good way to combine a lot of my interests and help people get to know me while I try to share some useful tips given my investing/startup experience.

What about this is a drag right now?

I want to watch the show without feeling like I need to do something. Also I dread writing the episode summaries because they don’t add anything unique to what I’m saying, yet I focus on getting the details right. It’s stupid.

What do I need to change to keep going?

Reiterate (mostly to myself) that I don’t need to do this in any specific way, or to any standard. Give up on writing episode summaries and just paste them from IMDB with credits. Focus instead on the lesson and the takeaway.


Energize. I’m going back in, I’ve made these tweaks, and I feel better. Merely posting that IMDB user’s episode summary up top instead of laboring through it myself was such a relief. I’m not trying to be a TV critic here, so neither readers nor I lose out by delegating that to someone who’s better at it than I am. Now I can focus on the takeaways that are more specific to why people are reading and my expertise.

Thanks for bearing with me. I promise most of these posts won’t be this narcissistic. It’s unnatural for me to be vulnerable and admit any sort of defeat, so in sharing this I hope I helped illuminate that even fun side projects can have their ups and downs. For more on the process of Startup Trek, check out my interview on the Unthinkable podcast, “Make It So.” Thanks to Jay and Tallie for having me on.

Sarah A. Downey

Written by

Principal at Accomplice. Formerly of Ovuline & Abine. I’m a VC, writer, lawyer, gamer, & liker of sci-fi.

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