Co-founder and Managing Director
BBA 1986 (Accounting)
Innovating by Overcoming Failures
We’ve all heard the adage: Good things come to those who wait. But it’s possible that better things come to those who innovate. We think Loren Trimble, BBA 1986, is one of those people.
Trimble was out of high school five years before he embarked on his pursuit of a college education. Raised on a farm in DeWitt, Iowa, and one of twelve children, he attended a community college and then came to the University of Iowa where he majored in accounting.
He learned valuable life lessons while studying accounting at Iowa. Some of those lessons have become clearer the longer he is out of college. He has recognized that a number of his business professors were very well balanced between academia and real-world business.
“Another important lesson I learned while in college was about failure. After not doing as well as you might have intended, it’s important to pick yourself up and get past the fear. Like the fear that you’re not going to pass the CPA exam or you’re not going to get a good enough grade to get a good job.”
Overcoming fear was instrumental in Trimble’s adoption of innovative thinking as he built his professional career. During a sixteen-year career at Arthur Andersen, Trimble was recognized for co-founding the Strategic Source service line and was received the Innovation Award from Arthur Andersen Business Consulting in 1991.
Today Trimble is co-founder, president and managing director of AArete, LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in operational performance improvement and strategic cost reduction through “Smart Solutions.” The firm is so passionate about bringing significant incremental savings to its clients in ways that others don’t that it stands behind this promise with guaranteed results.
This policy aligns with the company’s name, AArete. It is the Greek word for excellence, virtue, goodness, and values. The two capital A’s in AArete pay homage to many on the company’s leadership team who began their careers at Arthur Andersen. They have offices located in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.
Trimble’s position requires that he inspire innovation in those around him. “I view innovation through this acronym: PREP.
- First, you need to be in a Position (for people to trust your innovation) to be innovative.
- Second, you Reward people for being innovative.
- Third, you Encourage people to think outside the box and challenge themselves.
- And fourth, you don’t Punish for failure.”
Trimble has found that one key inhibitor to innovation is fear of failure.
“My job is to try to take the fear away and instill confidence and that sometimes the most gains can be accomplished when failures occur. How you handle setbacks is the difference maker.”
Trimble encourages his employees at AArete to understand that failure has value. But he stresses the importance of preparation.
Trimble says being prepared means having the skills and the knowledge necessary combined with an opportunity that surfaces.
“At one time I considered this the definition of luck, but today I see innovation occurring at these same crossroads - where opportunity meets preparation,” he says.
“Today I need to be innovative and the risks of failure are higher than ever in my career. If I fail, I feel like the whole company could fail – but we have diversified our risk. This balance allows me to take appropriate risk when innovating or when promoting others to innovate.”
When Trimble looks back on times when he was less innovative, there was someone in an authoritative role that had a different risk tolerance and didn’t appreciate what he was trying to do. Trimble didn’t feel encouraged to be as creative and to seek innovative solutions in that environment.
Trimble visited campus last winter and met with undergraduate accounting students and shared his career experiences with graduate students in the Full-time MBA Strategic Innovation Academy.
Although most of Trimble’s business purchases are conducted by the CFO, one advantage that helps build the business is the common ground of an accounting degree from a Big Ten University and a CPA license. He says this common ground helps improve communication and leads to better relationships.
“The ability to create these relationships all started at the University of Iowa in the business school,” he says. “Even though I have a totally different business than a typical CPA, the foundation has helped me in countless ways.”