Aurora co-founder Sterling Anderson stressed that being trusted is more important than being loved to BYU students in his March 14 lecture.
Anderson graduated from BYU with an undergrad in mechanical engineering and earned his master’s and Ph.D. in robotics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was the inventor of MIT Copilot; led the design, development and launch of the award-winning Tesla Model X; and was the Tesla Autopilot director before co-founding Aurora Innovation.
During his time at Tesla, Anderson was largely responsible for leading the charge in bringing autopilot features up to the same standards as Google’s autonomous driving technology through the use of fleet data.
Anderson explained the opportunity of three coming and transformative changes that are, according to him, “synergistic in some degree, but each alone will provide tremendous value.” He said his career has woven through several of these: self-driving, ride sharing and vehicle electrification.
“My intention was to make the biggest difference I could in the most impactful area I could find,” Anderson said. “For me, that was transportation systems — the introduction of the mass-produced, personally owned automobile has fundamentally transformed our society since the introduction near a mid-century ago in ways that most of us can’t even recognize.”
Anderson advised all those wanting to pursue a degree in his field with three things.
First, he said, “Act boldly on what you know, but always be anxious to find out why you’re wrong and fix it.”
Anderson stressed no matter how much you know, you can always know more.
Second, he said, “Be prepared to play hard ball. Don’t play offense too often, certainly be aware of what’s happening and play defense.”
Anderson explained how hard it is to survive in the professional field, especially in Silicon Valley, but how students need to learn how to survive and thrive in these situations.
Lastly, and most importantly, Anderson said, “to be trusted is better than to be loved. Everywhere I’ve gone, my primary and initial motivation has been to be trusted, and to be trustworthy even if they don’t love me for it. Be trusted before you’re loved. If love comes along that’s great, but be trusted first.”
Anderson said he believes it is better to leave a company to avoid compromising values because it is crucial to keep one’s standards.
“If any of you are considering some of the things you are going to be doing in the world to make a difference, this is definitely one of them,” Anderson said. “It’s not the only one, but it is exciting simply because there are so many challenges.”