Published: June 18, 2012
The Dean then introduced the distinguished alumni speaker, Martin Trust, calling him a visionary entrepreneur. Trust started his first business, Mast Industries, with just $1,000. In 1978, his company, a contract manufacturer, importer, and distributor of clothing, merged with The Limited Stores, now Limited Brands.
To this day, Trust is still involved with the MIT and MIT Sloan communities. He and his wife, Diane, have provided fellowship and support for 129 graduate students through the Martin Trust Graduate Management Fellowship, the Martin Trust Community Fellowship, and most recently the Martin (1958) Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.
Trust spoke of his time as a student and told the audience that much has changed since he arrived on campus—noting that tuition was just $1,100 when he began. He conducted research for his thesis using an IBM 704 mainframe computer—which took up an entire room. Many students used the computer, so Trust often found himself in the computer lab at 3 a.m.—one of the few free times available.
“I believe that back then, we also tried to understand what we didn’t know. The Sloan education doesn’t teach you all the things that you need to know. Rather, it helps you better understand what you don’t know, and what questions to ask,” he said.
Trust then expressed his thoughts on the values he would like to see in today’s graduates. “I wish more were interested in buying to build, and building to own. It is much harder to build something from nothing than to simply buy and sell.”
“The shine of entrepreneurs has become tarnished recently. Instead of buying to build, many have opted to strip and flip,” he said. Adding, “I think that we need a renaissance–a refocusing–on the values that first made entrepreneurs revered and respected figures in society.”
Trust then shared six values that he believes are important for success.
First, entrepreneurs should have vision to understand potential. Second, entrepreneurs know that partnership and teams are essential.
Trust advised, “We is more important than I. Developing great partnerships and teams is the key to a successful career. Work with partners you trust, are ethical, and can be relied upon.”
Third, entrepreneurs do not make money out of money. Entrepreneurs use money to turn ideas into profitable enterprises. Fourth, entrepreneurs should embrace failure. Fifth, entrepreneurs should think long term. Lastly, entrepreneurs must have values, he said.
Trust concluded his speech by adding, “We need to start earning back the trust and confidence of whatever societies our businesses impact.”
Dean Schmittlein then presented Trust with the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Leadership for all of his contributions as a principled leader who has improved the world.
Deputy Dean Yates then introduced the Class Gift Co-chairs, Clara Brenner, Josh Rider, and Eddie Liu. This group, along with 17 other students, worked with their class to raise $250,000.