In Trust podcast EP 36: How Trust Fuels Entrepreneurship and Innovation with Alex Waters

What are some common stories about entrepreneurship and innovation that actually hinder these pioneering pursuits? Why is trust so integral in the development and growth of entrepreneurship and innovation? 

We explored these questions and many more with Alex Waters, the Director of CONNECT ALL @ The Jacobs Center in San Diego, California. Alex works with low to moderate income and diverse founders helping them to build and scale businesses with honesty as the cornerstone of their ventures and leadership. He specializes in connecting startup founders with the resources needed to ensure their business ideas, confidence, and investments lead to results. Alex is also a coach in Seth Godin’s altMBA and Akimbo’s The Bootstrapper’s Workshop, as well as being a Diverse Community of Young Leaders Support Advocate with CodeBreakers.

In our conversation, Alex debunks a number of widespread myths about entrepreneurship and innovation and gets to the core of how trust fuels these trailblazing pursuits. He also gets into practical ways leaders, family, and friends can support innovators and entrepreneurs to achieve their goals, especially when they’re navigating their toughest challenges.

If you’re an innovator or entrepreneur or someone looking to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, you’ll definitely want to give this episode of the In Trust podcast a listen!

Overview of Episode 36: How Trust Fuels Innovation and Entrepreneurship with Alex Waters

Talking Points

  • How Alex helps early stage businesses grow and thrive via his work at CONNECT ALL @ The Jacobs Center
  • Alex’s path to supporting entrepreneurs and what’s behind his commitment to creating opportunities and helping other create opportunities too
  • Two big buckets Alex sees when it comes to the intersection of trust and entrepreneurship
  • How honesty can be a powerful tool to build trust
  • How having someone else’s best interest at heart can make them more receptive to feedback even when it’s tough
  • Why entrepreneurs, business-builders, and innovators tend to rarely talk about the real, tough stuff of their journeys and the problematic culture this creates
  • How having a peer group can help create a safe space to talk about things that aren’t necessarily going well
  • One thing Alex doesn’t think enough entrepreneurs do
  • How to know when choosing to quit is really the best option to move forward
  • How the stories we sometimes tell ourselves about failure get in the way of our own success
  • How entrepreneurship is a continuum and misconceptions about what being an entrepreneur looks like
  • Why communication is crucial to building trust and how Alex has changed the way he communicates to build stronger relationships with the entrepreneurs he works with
  • Picking yourself do to things that haven’t been done before
  • Even when you’re doing something that’s never been done before, you can find insights to help you on your journey
  • Why we’re not as alone in our journeys as we sometimes think we are and how reaching out to others for help can help build trust in yourself
  • Alex’s practical advice to get started on the path of entrepreneurship


“I think there’s two gigantic buckets around trust with the entrepreneurs. The first is trust in themselves because you have to really unpack a lot about uncertainty and not knowing whether this is the right thing to do….The second piece is with respect to trust and helping entrepreneurs. It’s really about them coming to the conclusion that you have their best interests at heart and sometimes that looks a little different than folks believe it will.” – Alex Waters

“One way that I’ve tried to build trust with entrepreneurs is just by being honest.” – Alex Waters

“When people know that you have their best interests at heart, they’re much more receptive to information, details, advice, connections, and all those different kinds of things.” – Alex Waters

“Knowing that there are other people who you’re working with, who are there day to day with you, who start when you are there, who finish when you’re there – that creates this sort of safe space to talk about things that aren’t necessarily going well.” – Alex Waters

“I think the biggest piece is communicating what your role is in the process of people getting to the end of their journey – that’s been a big piece with respect to trust that I’ve learned over the last few years. You can say that, ‘yes, we’re here to support. We’re here to do this. We’re here to sort of help you,’ but how that’s actually communicated is key.” – Alex Waters

“How I communicate with people about what my role is and how I can help them get to the point to achieve their goal has been the biggest thing that has changed about me trying to gain an individual’s trust in the process.” – Alex Waters

“Especially from an entrepreneurship lens, even though somebody may know that someone else is building a similar kind of business, there is this newness and nuance where entrepreneurs think the problem that they have, no one else has. They think that no one’s ever experienced this before. Well, that’s more than likely not true. The odds are there’s another entrepreneur out there who has experienced what you’re talking about and they can help you. So go talk to them. Go talk to someone who’s done it and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a question about this.’ And every time that happens, people will come back and be like, ‘I am so glad that I’ve talked to such and such about this because they totally had the same problem.’” – Alex Waters

“There’s a lot of people out there who sort of have the same issue and challenge. Making those connections is how people can help themselves to trust in themselves by knowing that they don’t need to be the person that has all the answers. Just trust that you’re willing to put in the work to find wherever those answers are.” – Alex Waters

“A lot of times, people underestimate how willing other individuals are to help someone else not make the same mistakes or pitfalls that they have.” – Alex Waters

This episode sponsored by:

The Future Is Trust

Embracing the Era of Trust-Centered Leadership

There’s a lot of uncertainty about the future, but one thing we are sure about is that The Future Is Trust. Which also happens to be the title of our forthcoming book. 

The Future is Trust: Embracing the Era of Trust-Centered Leadership officially goes on sale on June 15, 2021

We are so excited to bring this reimagination of what a leadership book can be. 

Check out for book launch details, special previews, exclusive pre-order specials, and more.

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