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What Do You Want Next Year to Be? Here’s How to Be a STAR (Thinks Out Loud 333)

Woman writing lessons using STAR framework to succeed next year

One of the most successful ways to "live in the future" is to learn from the past. And, of course, to apply the learnings you take away from the past. But how can you do that most effectively? What methods exist to help you learn and grow?

This episode of Thinks Out Loud looks at the STAR and STAR/AR frameworks for delivering feedback and how you can apply those to your business this year… and next. We explore why that matters. And we look at how you can use those frameworks to build the future you want to live in.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you.

Thinks Out Loud Episode 333: What Do You Want Next Year to Be? Here’s How to Be a STAR Headlines and Show Notes

Show Notes and Links

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Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 36s

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Transcript: What Do You Want Next Year to Be? Here’s How to Be a STAR

Well, hello again, everyone. And welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is Episode 333 of the big show. And I want to start by saying, this is going to be a slightly different episode than I typically do. This has been a weird handful of weeks. We’re normal. We’re coming up on the end of the year here, as I record this, I’m recording this in mid-December. You may be hearing this in later December. But I’ve been out of the office the last handful of weeks. We had some personal loss, a few weeks back, and in the interim I’ve been trying to keep things moving forward, keep the episodes going, et cetera. But I’m definitely in a different place, a little more contemplative than I might usually be. Now, at the end of the year, every year, I’m a little contemplative. My birthday was just a few days ago, obviously we’re coming up on the end of the year, and we’re looking back some.

But as you well know, I always like to talk about the fact that we live in the future. We create the future that we want for ourselves and for our businesses. And so I tend to be fairly future focused. Now, while I tend to think about the future, I don’t entirely ignore the past. There’s a great line by the late great Johnny Cash. Great quote, actually, it’s more than a line. He said, "You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space."

And as a boss of mine said once, "You paid the tuition, you may as well put the learning to work."

The things that happened in the past can either be an anchor or they can be a platform you build off of. And I’m very much one to try to make sure that they’re not an anchor, but that instead they are a platform. And that’s kind of what I want to talk about today. As I’ve been looking back at 2021, and as I’ve been looking ahead a bit to 2022, I’ve been thinking about the lessons I’ve learned, and the mistakes that I’ve made, and how to grow from them.

And next week, I’m going to talk about what some of those specific lessons are. What some of those specific mistakes were and what I’ve learned from them. Because I think you might as well.

Adapting the STAR and STAR/AR Frameworks to Your Business

Before I do that though, I wanted to talk a bit about a process that I use, that I didn’t come up with. I don’t recall the first place I ever ran across this, I will post in the show notes a couple of places where you can read about it, but it’s a method known as the STAR and the STAR/AR method. And it’s usually used to give feedback to people. So be aware, I’m sort of taking something that was designed for one purpose and using it in a different way to give self-feedback.

But it’s also an incredibly useful tool for assessing the kind of year you’ve had, what you can learn from it, and how you can set yourself up for a better year going forward. You don’t have to do this in December. You don’t have to do this in January. You could do this, I don’t know, April 8th, you could do it on September 9th. I mean, pick a date whenever you happen to be listening to this to say, how do I do this better? How do I do this more effectively?

Highlight The Positives Situations and Results

So the first thing you do is I want you to think about the very best things, the very best outcomes you got all year, the best results, the best things that happened, the best decisions that you made. And make a look at, take a look at all of them, make a list.

And when I say, good things, I mean, you got positive results from them. And then what you look at is this STAR method. So the first thing is, what was the situation? What was the task? Again, remember, this is designed originally for feedback to an employee or to yourself. So what was the situation or task? That’s the S-T part. Then, what was your action? What did you do in that situation? And then, what was the result? So that’s your STAR: situation or task, action, result. Because what you’re trying to imply in there is, well, what would I need to do to generate that result again in a similar situation? And take a moment to be very honest with yourself, because this is going to become really important in just one moment.

Acknowledge the Situations That Provide Opportunities to Improve

Now, after you’ve taken your list of all of the things that went well, take a look at all of the ones that did not go well. And you’re going to do exactly the same thing you did in the STAR part. What was the situation or task? What was the action? What was the result? And then what you’re going to do is say, was there an alternative action and what was the alternative? What would you do as an alternative, given what you know right now? What would you do differently? And then think about what could be the result of that. And you can plan out a few of these. What would the alternative be? What would alternative action number one be? What would alternative action number two be? And what would the results of each of those look like?

Recognize Where Luck Played a Role

And here’s where I find real power in doing this. Because as you look at the list of actions you took in the situations where everything went well, your STAR moments. And as you look at the actions you took in the STAR/AR moments where things maybe didn’t go well, where you have some learning to do, you may see that there were situations that were similar in both cases where you took actions in both cases and you got very different results. And this is why it’s really important to be honest with yourself. Because what that may signal is that luck played a role in those specific cases. If you consistently took an action and you consistently got the same result, then that’s a pretty good sign that that action actually influenced that result. But if you find wow, there were three situations that were exactly the same, two of the times it came out really well, and one of the times it came out terribly.

Maybe that wasn’t the result of the action that was bad. Maybe it was you just had bad luck that time. By the same token, don’t be fooled by the ones where, hey, I did X in a situation. And then in a similar situation, multiple other times, I did that same action. And I got a bad result. Maybe the one that was good was just lucky. If you’re out at a holiday party and you have maybe one more cocktail than you should have, and then do you drive home? And you get home with no problem. You don’t get pulled over. You don’t have an accident or anything along those lines. You still made a terrible decision. And I mean, lets be fair, we’ve probably all done it at some point or other. We’ve probably all made some bad decisions that we got lucky. That’s okay. As long as you change the behavior going forward.

And let’s be fair, the same thing can happen in the opposite direction. You could have made a great decision. And for whatever reason, you just had some bad luck in this one case and it came back to bite you. So don’t assume that every STAR is a sign that you did exactly the right thing. Don’t assume that every STAR/AR is that you did a bad thing. It’s that you’re using this as a tool to analyze and say, am I consistently making good choices? Am I consistently making good decisions? And are they then, generally speaking, more often than not producing the kinds of outcomes, the kinds of results that I’m looking for? That’s what you’re trying to learn from this because that’s what’s going to help you build on what you do going forward.

Building for The Future

You have an enormous amount of power here. When I say we live in the future, I’m really saying you have control over the future ahead of you. It doesn’t mean you have control over every moment. Sometimes bad things happen. And sometimes those bad things are way outside your control. What you do get though, is control over how you react to that. You do have control over what you do going forward. That’s the beauty of this system. That’s the beauty of this process. But you only have control if you take control. You only have control if you know what worked, and if you know what didn’t, and was it appropriate to the situation? Yeah, luck plays a role. I consider myself, generally speaking, the luckiest person I know. I have a great life. Sometimes I have bad luck too. It happens. It’s part of the process.

One of my all time favorite quotes from a great Star Trek episode, Star Trek: The Next Generation, peak performance. One of the first great Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, Jean-Luc Picard, Captain Picard, tells Data, "It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life." Right? It’s also true that if you don’t learn from those moments, you can’t ever get better. And sometimes what you have to learn is, well, I did something, it got a negative result and here’s what I would do the next time to do it better. And sometimes you have to learn that, hey, given the same information, the same data, I would make the same decision. And most of the time it’s going to work out okay. The point being here that we can’t dwell in the past, we can’t live in the past.

There is No Time Machine

No one has a time machine. You don’t get to go back and change anything. As, Johnny Cash said, "You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past, but don’t try to forget the mistakes." Learn from them and use them going forward. As my boss once said, "You paid the tuition. You may as well put the learning to work." And that’s not just how you live in the future. That’s how you live successfully in the future.

Show Closing and Credits

Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode, as well as an archive of all past episodes by going to Again, that’s Just look for Episode 333.

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Sponsor Message: SoloSegment

I’d like to think a moment to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud is brought to you by SoloSegment. SoloSegment offers an amazing suite of search tools that provides search as a service for large enterprise companies. They focus on business results, not search results. With easy automated tools that help customers find the content that matters to them and helps drive business goals for you. They do this all while protecting customer privacy and improving your results. You can learn more about SoloSegment and all the amazing work they do by going to Again, that’s

Show Outro

With all that said, I want to say once again how much I appreciate you tuning into the show every single week, especially these last few weeks while things have been a little weird around here. It means more to me than I can say. So thank you very much. With that, I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week. I hope you have a great weekend and I will look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, please be well, be safe, and as ever, take care everybody.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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