Author: Bill Aulet

For all of us, 2020 was a year unlike any other by a lot. I kept quoting Friedrich Nietzsche, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” The challenges came from all sides–students, faculty, staff, community–and in all ways: health, operational disruptions, financial, economic injustice, racial injustice, mental fatigue, mental wellness, and more. Just getting from day to day was often an accomplishment.

It was exhausting, and yet, at the same time, exhilarating.

What the Trust Center experienced this year is precisely what we have been talking about when educating our students. In a disruptive world, they were to be the entrepreneurs. They would have the mindset, skill set, and way of operating to not just survive, but also thrive in times of change, crisis, adversity, and ambiguity. If ever there was a time to lead by example, 2020 was it. We made a collective commitment at the Trust Center that we would not be defeated by the pandemic and everything else, but that this would be an opportunity for us. It would make us stronger.

It was certainly not all sunshine, rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns. It was really hard, but that is exactly what forced us to a new level.

This year forced us to be more creative. It forced us to rethink the very definition of entrepreneurship. It forced us to be more efficient. It forced us to recognize how important the serendipitous collisions of the people in our world are, and how we need to treasure them when they come back. 2020 forced us to communicate more and have tighter processes. Ultimately, it forced us to recognize that what we do is getting more and more important.

As one Dean said, “Your center figures out real quick how to make lemonade out of lemons.”

The rate of change will never be slower than it is today; it will only speed up. This is one of the fundamental laws that we talk about, which these days is as important as Moore’s Law. There will be more crises and challenges from climate change, technologic displacement, social unrest created by inequities, additional pandemics (yes, it will happen), plus other trials we can’t yet imagine.

The ones who will survive are the entrepreneurs. The ones who will build things back better at all levels will be entrepreneurs. They will solve the problems and create the stronger systems of the future.

It is now very clear that the Trust Center is not just teaching people to create startups, we are teaching them to be resilient+. This means when the chess board of life or society gets knocked over, our students don’t break. They don’t just survive, they lead the way forward to solve the problems and turn a disruption into an opportunity for improvement. That is a mindset, skill set, and way of operating that is valuable everywhere.

I could not be prouder of the team at the Trust Center and our extended community for how they rose to the challenges this year. Thank you all and, in the end, this will make us better. Enjoy the lemonade that follows.

We’re quite proud of all that we were able to achieve during the year and invite you to see for yourself in our 2020 Annual Report.