By Kat Calvin | May 13, 2019
I’ve been thinking a lot about Captain Janeway lately. There’s a great Voyager episode (“Macrocosm”) where a giant virus takes over the ship. After the entire crew is taken ill, Janeway alone has to strap up and fight it. It is without a doubt the second most badass Voyager episode — after the finale, which is the most badass series finale scene in history. I will fight over this.
Star Trek makes you think about leadership in every moment of every scene; and to me “Macrocosm” best represents what it means to be a founder and CEO. You may have the best team in Starfleet and you may have slayed many Borg together — but at the end of the day you sit in that Captain’s chair alone.
I run a nonprofit and my team is, without a doubt, the best in the country. They’re extraordinary. But they don’t run the organization. Every day I have to think about where we will be ten years from now, and what we are doing on the ground in each chapter in every state, and what our company culture looks like, and how each member of the staff is doing, and if I’ll have enough money at the end of the week to make payroll so their children can eat and have a place to sleep at night. Every morning I get out of bed, strap up, and fight a giant virus by myself. It’s exhausting and terrifying, but I have to do it because — while my team won’t die if I don’t — they’ll all lose their jobs, and the people we serve will lose a vital lifeline.
Department heads only have to think about one part of the ship: Engineering, Medical, Ten Forward. The Captain has to be aware of everything that is happening in each department, plus all of the side negotiations and projects and away teams and everything else, while also being prepared to deal with the inevitable alien attack, death of an acceptable number of crew members per episode, and a hologram or android that is steadily becoming more self-aware. It’s the same for nonprofit and business leaders (with Earth stuff) and it’s exhausting. We can’t complain because we chose this life. But I think one reason that I like watching Janeway strap up and fight a giant flu bug is that I know that at least someone understands what my days look like.
About the Author
Kat Calvin is a 2019 Roddenberry Fellow and the founder of Spread The Vote. Spread The Vote is a nonprofit organization that aims to close the gap between registered voters and voter turnout by obtaining government-issued photo IDs, educating, and empowering voters. Learn more about her work here.