Aug. 9, 2022

DS9: The House of Quark

Be Do Have. And, Only Star Trek Could Make Accounting Cool!


On this episode, Jeff Akin reviews Star Trek Deep Space 9, The House of Quark (Season 3, Episode 3). He will examine the leadership approaches of Quark (Yes!!! Quark!)

 

Jeff dives into the Be Do Have model. It's a powerful way of thinking about who you need to BE in order to DO the things you need to do to HAVE what you want.

 

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Transcript

Welcome! Thanks for joining me today. Do you know who, or how, you need to be in order to do the things necessary to have the things you want? I’m going to share the Be Do Have model in this episode that also gives the opportunity to look at a trust-based partnership that builds on people’s strengths while compensating for any weaknesses. Let’s get right into it. It’s the 3rd episode of the 3rd season of Deep Space 9, The House of Quark.

 

<<Transporter>>

 

It’s closing time at Quark’s Bar! Well, not so much. It’s actually prime drinking time but no one is there, except a super drunk Klingon who is getting angry because he wants to run a tab and that’s a no-no for Quark. He gets mad, tries to stab Quark and lands on his own knife, bleeding out on the bar floor. Where some see tragedy, Quark sees opportunity. “I wish we could put him on display.” 4:53 People are crowding around the bar during the investigation and are dying to get in the bar! He convinces his brother, Rom, that they should tell people Quark killed the Klingon in self-defense. “My brother killed him in self-defense!” 6:03 Quark plays it up and the crowd is eating out of his hand.

 

Miles O’Brien, and his wife, Keiko are struggling. Keiko closed the school she had been running because all of Bajoran students left the station. She’s upset and O’Brien is lost; he just wants to help his wife.

 

Odo, the head of security, shares the results of his investigation with Quark. He killed Kozak, the head of a rather powerful Klingon house and family. Rom tries to talk Quark out of saying he killed Kozak, nothing good can come from this. But Quark is buying into his own hype. “I’m Quark, slayer of Klingons.” 11:08 But he’s not totally delusional; he absolutely has a backup plan. “I’ll stand up and offer them a bribe.” 11:21

 

Almost immediately afterwards, he’s attacked in the hallway. “You killed my brother.” 11:40 All D’Ghor, the borther, wants to hear is that Kozak died an honorable death, as a warrior in personal combat, so Quark leans into the story he’s been telling and he is satisfied, saying this will bring their house more honor.

 

O’Brien is trying everything he knows to help Keiko feel better. “It’s I’m married to the most amazing woman day.” 14:29 She’s appreciative, but as he heads off to work, she settles back in. “I’ll be here.” 15:48 And crumples onto the couch.

 

Quark’s counting the receipts for the day when a Klingon, Grilka, Kozak’s widow, comes into the bar. She wants to know that he died with honor as well, and then attacks him! He cowers behind the bar and she calls him on his BS, so he tells the truth. She grabs him and beams him away.

 

He wakes up on Qo’Nos, the Klingon home world, in Kozak’s home. Quark finds himself caught up in Klingon culture and he doesn’t understand. D’Ghor isn’t really Kozak’s brother, he leads a rival house. If Kozak dies an honorable death, with no heir to the House, the House falls apart for rivals to pick up. Had he died in an accident, the House could have appealed to the Klingon Council for a dispensation. “That might have allowed Grilka to lead the House.” 19:36 Grilka throws a fur robe onto Quark grabs his hand and recites something in Klingon. Tumek, the House’s Advisor tells Quark to repeat the words. “Repeat.” 20:20 He hesitates, so Gilka threatens to kill him. “Let me ask just one question.” 20:28 He repeats, and they’re married!

 

Speaking of marriage, O’Brien comes to ask Sisko for some advice. He wants to give her something to do, some purpose. Sisko approves O’Brien’s request to build an arboretum. Her training is as a botanist so he think she’ll enjoy taking care of it. Then Sisko shows that he’s not just a great leader, but straight up an awesome human being as well. “If one cargo bay makes her happy, it’s well worth it.” 23:15 So O’Brien heads out and gets to work. Bashir, though, Bashir doesn’t think it will work. Bashir, the Station’s doctor and O’Brien’s good, eventually best friend, poins out the big flaw in his idea. “You can’t turn a profession into a hobby.” 30:10

 

D’Ghor is making claim to the property of Kozak’s House, but Grilka interrupts the Hearing introducing Quark as her husband and new head of the House. D’Ghor challenges this and the Council agrees to consider his challenge, but, for the time being, the House of Kozak is now, begrudgingly, “The House of Quark.” 26:09

 

Quark and Grilka, eventually, decide to work together on this. Turns out the House is broke, Kozak mismanaged the money for a long time. Quark asks to review the books. Grilka hates the idea, Klingons don’t find honor in accounting, but she shares them with him.

 

He finds how D’Ghor has really backed the House into a corner. “He’s been systematically attacking your assets for years.” 30:58 Grilka says this dishonorable and thinks this builds their case to the Council. They’re really working well together and have a solid plan, so Quark gets a little overly confident. “I really am grateful. Which is why I will let you take you hand off my thigh instead of shattering every bone in your body.” 31:59 Well done, Grilka!

 

They make their case to the Council, and this is amazing! “So, look at the net value here in column J…” 32:24 Accounting is front and center at the Klingon High Council! D’Ghor tries another tactic and brings in Quark’s brother Rom to testify that Kozak died by accident. So, despite Quark’s work, the House’s fate will be decided in the morning, by personal combat. D’Ghor vs Quark. Quark tells Grilka he wants nothing to do with this and runs away.

 

Just as the Council is about to grant the land and assets to D’Ghor, the door to the Council Chambers opens and, “I am Quark. Son of Keldar. And I have come to answer the challenge of D’Ghor.” 36:35 He stepped up! They grab bat’leths, circle each other, staring each other down, neither quite ready to strike. Quark lunges forward…and tosses his weapon to the side. He drops to his knees, unarmed, and tells D’Ghor to kill him. “No honor. No glory.” 38:12 D’Ghor goes to strike but Gowron, the Chancellor of the High Council stops him and says, “You have no honor.” 38:52 and is kicked out of the Hall. The Council turns their backs on him and he is forcibly removed. They award the House to Grilka! All is good. Grilka is very thankful and Quark is done with all of this. “How can I repay you? I’d like a divorce.” 40:28 She’s happy to grant his wish, so he and Rom head back to DS9.

 

O’Brien has been thinking about how he can best support Keiko. He’s made a tough decision. “There’s an agrobiology expedition leaving for Bajor in 2 weeks.” 41:41 They need a Chief Botanist and he wants her to apply. But it’ll be a 6-month job. Keiko can even take their daughter, Molly along with her. They talk it through. It’s hard for both of them but O’Brien just wants her to be happy.

 

The episode ends with Rom consoling Quark, but Quark is having a hard time. Business is down again at the bar. “Respect is good, but latinum’s better.” 43:45 But Rom doesn’t give up; he gets it that there is more to life than money. He asks Quark to tell the story again but Quark doesn’t see the profit in it. But it’s not about that. “No, tell me. I want to hear it.” 44:04

 

<<Red Alert>>

 

This is such a fun episode that absolutely works. Why does it work? Well, I’ve got two words for you. Armin Shimerman. He was all over this thing and was awesome. It was a lot of fun to see him, surrounded by Klingons, basically reading from a spreadsheet! A great example of how Star Trek can poke fun of itself and come through with a great episode.  

 

Quarks – Ads

 

We’ve been so conditioned that the Klingons are serious business. So rigid and obsessed with honor and glory. I mean, when you and I watched TNG Rightful Heir, they were about to plunge into a civil war over just that. It’s cool and kind of refreshing that they can have some fun with that concept. I mean, they literally steal a scene from the Next Generation episode Sins of the Father, which we haven’t watched yet, but it’s where Worf receives his discommendation. This had a dramatically different feel to it, though.

 

This episode worked, like I said, because of Armin Shimerman. People tend to know him from one of two roles. Quark, of course, and Principal Snyder from the early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But he has been in so many things! He was a regular on Boston Legal, in a bunch of episodes of that Beauty and the Beast show with Linda Hamilton and he was the Salarian Councilor in Mass Effect! For an even deeper Bioware cut, he voiced Emperor Sun Hai and a few others in the near-masterpiece Jade Empire.

 

I share all this because it’s easy to write him, and all the Ferengi, off as comic relief, but he is an incredible actor. He swings from the lows of a failing business to the highs of being a hero. He tells captivating stories that even pull the viewer in! Absolutely excellent and this episode would have been a shadow of what it is if not for him.

 

I didn’t really care for the O’Brien marital issues story line. I get that the character Keiko couldn’t teach anymore, we’ll talk about why in future episodes of the podcast, but the rest of this was meant to give Rosalind Chao, the actor, more time away from the show. Plus, the writers wanted Miles and Bashir to develop their bromance more and that was weird with the relationship dynamics.

 

Still, they could have done it in a way that didn’t leave Miles looking like a moron. The low point of this, outside of what I’ll talk about in the command codes, was when he met with Sisko. Let me ask you this. If you have the option of talking a widower that had one amazing marriage, or a person that had been married and divorced and widowed and everything like nearly 8 times, and from both the husband and the wife roles, who are you going to listen to??

 

“Wife problems, Chief?” 21:29 She has literally done it all! Now Sisko is super supportive and awesome, but he doesn’t provide any insights at all, in fact, Bashir provides more value to Miles than Sisko does! Do you think Dax would have let him run with that arboretum idea? No way. No, she would have challenged him, shared points of view he couldn’t imagine and gotten him a lot closer to a happy ending.

 

Last thing on that story. When he declares it’s you’re an awesome wife day, he says, “I marked it on your calendar.” 14:31 Haha! So romantic! So, my partner and I have a shared calendar and I use it without fail! I think she has looked at it twice. Ever. Like, I get you, O’Brien, I really do, but you should know by know if that’s gonna fly or not.

 

Luckily, that story takes up maybe like 8 minutes of the whole thing. The rest of the show is a masterclass from Armin Shimerman and a really fun Ferengi and Klingon story.

 

<<Command Codes>>

 

Be. Do. Have. This is a wildly powerful model that, depending on how you apply it, will literally make or break you. The O’Brien storyline gives us a great opportunity to look at this concept. I’m also going to talk about how to build a partnership rooted in trust that complements each other’s strengths and compensates for weaknesses, based on Quark and Grilka’s productive and, um, unique partnership.

 

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Grilka and Quark each have a problem, and Quark’s got a lot bigger once Grilka came on the scene. For her, everything is on the line. Her House, her family, her finances, her honor…everything. For Quark, well, if they can’t figure out a creative way to solve her problem, he’s going to die. And probably in a very painful way.

 

They come at this problem the way a lot of managers come at a problem. One person dictating what’s going to happen. And in this case, that one person doesn’t have the knowledge or the skills to even know what they should be doing. Hmm, that’s probably still consistent with the way a lot of managers come at issues, right?

 

She’s loud, violent and is super clear on what she wants, she just has no idea how to get there. It takes Quark stepping forward to not only offer his skill set, but to lay down the foundation for trust too. Back in the episode on Discovery Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad I talked about a way to shortcut trust. Quark follows that here. Basically, he shares his stake in this whole thing to show he’s vulnerable, both psychologically and physically in this case, and that he’s totally vested in the outcome. This helps them get to a place where they can listen to and hear each other.

 

He specifically does this by sharing his lack of knowledge around Klingon culture, but highlighting his ability to strategize and his financial skill sets. And then he goes for it. “Let’s try having a more equal partnership.” 27:13 He tells her exactly how he can help and what that will mean for him.

 

This is attractive to her because, as we learn at the end of the episode, things like finances and math are, apparently, not honorable. Which, by the way, I find fascinating given the fact they are a warp capable species and have been involved in all kinds of trade disputes and negotiations through the series. But, anyway, it’s attractive to her because she doesn’t have to demean herself, or any other Klingon in her House, to poring over spreadsheets and accounting ledgers.

 

The key points in this piece are that Quark reached out to establish trust. He then offered his strengths to compensate for Grilka’s weaknesses while she did the same; she and her House helped Quark to understand and navigate the politics of Klingon culture. And the big piece, Grilka allowed all of this to happen.

 

As a manager, when your team is faced with difficult tasks or problems, you can follow this model as well. You are basically Grilka. You have a problem that impacts your team or company and you need it solved. First, do not follow her lead of trying to solve the problem yourself and just telling people what to do. First, you have no idea how to best solve the problem and, second, no one performs well when they are being told exactly what to do.

 

Instead, establish trust. Share the problem and your vested interest in seeing it solved. Help the team see and understand their vested interest in seeing it solved. And, hot take here, if there isn’t a way to show them their interest, it probably isn’t really a problem at all. It’s likely something you, or the bureaucracy of your organization made up and is now your problem. If you’re spending your team’s time solving made-up problems for the sole purpose of appeasing the bureaucracy, stop!

 

Ok, back to it. Share the vested interests and then help to identify who has what strengths and how they can be applied to solving the problem. Or, some next level stuff here, pair people up so their strengths can help trains and build skills in others as well. Compensate for weaknesses for missing skillsets by overlapping and utilizing strengths.

 

The last piece that Grilka does, is she gets out of Quark’s way. She lets him do his thing. He asks questions as needs to and she helps him get to the Council or things like that, but she just lets Quark do what he needs to do. You need to do this same thing. Once your team knows what’s up, get out of their way. Let them do their thing, but be available to answer questions, connect to resources or handle the things that get in their way.

 

At the end of this episode, everyone got what they wanted. Grilka is leading her House with D’Ghor out of the way. Quark has a cool story he can tell to win over customers at his bar. And they got there because they worked together.

 

They were so effective in working together, though, because they know who they are. They know their skills and where they don’t know things. They both knew how to be exactly who they were.

 

Have you heard of the concept of Be Do Have? I’m not going to lie. When I was introduced to this back around 2010, it blew my mind. This is a concept that demonstrates Who you are, or how you tend to Be, What you Do, and What you Have.

 

To play this out, there are generally three ways these come together, and they reflect the categories of people I talked about in the Starfleet Leadership Academy episode on Voyage Message in a Bottle: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those that wonder what just happened. That’s from a Tommy Lasorda quote if you want to look it up.

 

Well, a person that wonders what happened is a Have Do Be person. If I HAVE a thing, I can DO a thing and then I’ll BE a thing. If I only had a new MacBook I could do all the cool things with my YouTube and then I’d be happy and rich from all the YouTube money! The Have Do Be person relies on other people or other things, things outside their control, to achieve what they want. Oh, and spoiler alert…this almost never works out this way, right. That MacBook isn’t going to make you a star.

 

Then there are the people that watch things happen. They are Do Have Be people. If I DO a thing, I’ll HAVE a THING and then I’ll BE happy or successful or whatever. Or, If I do more one-on-one meetings, I’ll have the respect of my team and then I’ll be a good manager. The plus to this one is that they are at least focusing a little more on what they can do to get what they want, but they are still relying one something outside of themselves. They are still waiting on having something.

 

Finally, the people that make things happen are generally Be Do Have people. If I know how I need to BE, I can DO the things necessary for me to HAVE what I want. If I am happy and professional, I’ll do more, or have more, effective one-on-one meeting and then I’ll have the respect of my highly functional team.

 

This can be difficult to really wrap your mind around. Another way I think of it is where Be is just who you are and how you carry yourself. Do is your job or your activity you’re doing, while Have is the thing you want. I have worked with our state legislature for quite a few years. A former state senator that I sometimes hang out with insists on being called Senator even though it’s been like 6 or so years since they served. We see this in other positions as well. Bill Clinton is still called Mr. President and Harry Stone from Night Court would still be called Your Honor.

 

Why??

 

I mean, when they’re in the position, sure, but that title is what they DO. Not who they are or how they be.

 

One of my huge gripes with this episode of Star Trek is how they handled Keiko. Now, honestly, that could be a statement about her in all of Star Trek, but we’ll just look at this instance. She is a civilian that was assigned to the Enterprise D as a botanist. She and Miles met, got married and started a family. When Miles was assigned to Deep Space 9, she started a school and became a teacher. She’s also a musician, a calligrapher and a loving mother. But, apparently, “Keiko’s a botanist.” 30:26

 

Wow, that sure boils her down, doesn’t it? So if we follow the Be Do Have model, we can see that she does many things: botanist, teacher, wife, mother, musician and more. Because of this she has professional respect, a loving family and a lot of cool stories about her experiences. But who is she? Well, with the best of intentions, Miles misses the mark by light years. “You’re trained to be a botanist. Be a botanist, Keiko.” 42:50 Dude, this would be so defeating to me. Imagine, she’s 127 years old, totally lucid but lying on her death bed. Miles, Molly, Yoshi and her grandchildren are surrounding her in her last moments. She peacefully passes away. It’s heartbreaking but beautiful scene. Her son, Yoshi wipes a tear from his eye and says, “good-bye, Mom. I’ll love you forever. You were such an amazing botanist.”

 

Like, WHAT?!? Seriously?? No, people would say things like, she was so loving, or she helped so many people, or that the galaxy would be less welcoming because she was no longer in it. These are the things you are. You are more than your job! I mean, imagine being an awesome project manager, retiring, and then, at 68, visiting friends and having them call you a PM. It’s ludicrous! But it happens all the time. People assign their self-worth and their identity to what they do, most often to their job. And that is not ok!

 

I did not become a manager because I wanted to or planned to. I became a manager because when I was first offered a management position it paid $.50 an hour more. That’s it! Now, turns out it’s kind of my jam, but what if it wasn’t?? What if I went to law school and became an attorney but I hated it? I couldn’t leave it because I needed to pay off those student loans, but now I’m associated with this job I don’t even want! It’s heartbreaking, really. If you understand who you really, truly are, who you Be, then your self-worth and your identity will be wrapped up in YOU and not some external something. How cool would that be for you?

 

So I want you to figure out who you are. This is very similar to the personal mission statement exercise from the episode on The Animated Series, The Lorelei Signal. But in this one, I want you to determine, in this order, your Be Do Have. Start with what you want to have, then determine what you need to do to get that and then how you need to be in order to do it. Then, and this is the most important part: be that way!

 

For me, I want to have people that I have helped be more effective as leaders. To have that I need to connect with people, one-on-one and help guide them on their journey. If that’s going to happen, I need to be knowledgeable and helpful. Now that means that, right away, I need to be a person that is helpful and that people want to have help them. Once I am that, I’ll be able to connect with people and help them on their leadership journeys. After doing that for awhile, I will have a group of people that I have helped make more effective as leaders.

 

A fun next step is to ask yourself why you want that thing. Why would I want to have a group of people that are more effective as leaders, for example? Well, because I want Star Trek. Haha. Star Trek shows us that a better future is possible, and I want that future. But to get there, we need better leaders. Much better leaders. And I want to be a part of creating that future.

 

<<Hailing Frequencies>>

 

If you feel like you have what it takes to be a leader that can help us get to the idealized world of Star Trek, reach out to me. We’ll schedule a call to see if I can help you on your leadership journey. You can contact me through the website, starfleetleadership.academy, which is linked in the show notes, or through social media.

 

I’m on Twitter: @ SFLA podcast and most everywhere else, @jefftakin Jeff, t as in The House of Quark, a k i n.

 

Computer, what are we going to watch next time….

 

The 10th episode of the 3rd season of Voyager, Warlord! I think this is the first time we’ll have an episode centered on Kes. Or, well, kind of on Kes. I mostly remember this one because it finally ends the awkward relationship with Neelix and Kes, and, honestly, that alone makes this one must see TV!

 

Until then, Ex Astris Scientia!