How Community College Entrepreneurship Creates Equity and Prosperity: Yes, and how it all began (Part I of VII)

Andy Gold
6 min readDec 18, 2020


How Community College Entrepreneurship Creates Equity and Prosperity: Yes, and how it all began (Part I of VII)

I am creating a series of articles, themed around a new book, (How Community College Entrepreneurship Creates Equity and Prosperity, John Hunt Publishing 2020) that I was fortunate to be a small part of, along with my co-authors, Becky Corbin, President and CEO of the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), and Beth Kerly who is an amazing educator and the co-founder of Hillsborough Community College’s Institute for Interdisciplinary Innovation — The InLab@HCC. This story (Part I in the series) introduces how I got involved with co-authoring the book that was published in late 2020. It is my expectation that this series of articles will help create awareness around the critically important issues raised in the book. My entrepreneurial optimism causes me to also hope that these articles and the book will inspire others to reach out to us and consider co-creating inventive “moon shot” projects that can help reduce inequality and increase prosperity through community college entrepreneurship education and support.


On October 8, 2018, I found myself in Fort Worth Texas at the 11th Annual Conference for the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE). I had just finished lunch and sat in amusement watching and listening to a comedy improvisation group — Four Day Weekend — get recognized with a lifetime achievement award. The group discussed how they integrate the “yes and..” method into their improv performances, but also as a tool for building their business.

They described a previous moment when after completing one of their comedy improv performances they were approached by a corporate executive who complimented their performance and found the “yes and..” method fascinating. The executive asked the group if they had ever considered doing such a performance for a corporate function directly. David Wilk, one of the “Four Day Weekend” co-founders, recalled, that without hesitation I said to the executive “yes, and we would like to start with yours.”

As an entrepreneur, that story resonated with me. Over the years, I had learned to say yes to so many opportunities that presented themselves, often without giving the decision much thought. Sometimes when I said “yes, and…”, upon reflection, I later realized that I had said yes to something that I was not prepared for, or potentially incapable of delivering. In those instances, rather than contact the person or business that had presented the opportunity, and politely back out, I instead would leverage my network and find the people and resources needed to deliver what was needed.

What I have learned through those experiences is that life is a journey that can take you in many varied directions, and often it is those serendipitous moments that lead to the greatest opportunity. Sometimes, there was no apparent benefit to saying “yes, and…”, but there was still a significant benefit that I was able to yield. Saying yes, often led to forging new and valuable relationships, and providing opportunities to others to deliver a service for a fee that I was unable to deliver myself. That spirit of inclusion fueled what I call a reciprocity network — a group of people that share common goals and interests that learn to unconditionally reciprocate with one another. That life approach has served me well thus far.

Opportunity knocks

Several years ago, Becky Corbin from NACCE called me to say, “I am working on a book (Community Colleges as Incubators for Innovation) that aggregates subject matter experts to each write a chapter about community college entrepreneurship education.” Becky went on to say, we realize that we have a gap in the book and need someone to write about entrepreneurship pedagogy (method of teaching), might you and Beth Kerly be interested in co-authoring that chapter?” Before I could say “yes, and…” Becky added, “however there is one small caveat…. I need your chapter in five days.” I quickly said, “yes, and I am excited that you considered us for this project.” That was one of the first times I had applied the “yes, and…” approach to include a third party (Beth in this instance) without asking her if she was up for it. Thankfully, Beth was on board, and actually was responsible for bringing our chapter to a wonderful conclusion within that short time period.

More recently, amid the global pandemic, I was once again approached by Becky Corbin. Becky said in her Becky way, “I wonder if you and Beth might be interested in collaborating on a new book project, with one small caveat. The book needs to be completed in 90 days.” Knowing that I could now say “yes, and…” on behalf of Beth, without hesitation, I said to Becky, “yes, and that time constraint is far longer than the last book project we collaborated on.”

And so, it began. Three relatively inexperienced book authors journeying ahead to write a book in the midst of a global pandemic.

Part II of VII in this article series will be out soon, and will provide an overview of Chapter 1 Inequality — from Reality to Opportunity

BONUS SECTION: Use this “yes, and…” activity, as a way to apply some of the topics mentioned in this article

Use this exercise (courtesy of Four Day Weekend) as an ice breaker, in a classroom, a business, a job interview, really anywhere you like.

Step1: Watch this video (3:08 minutes) featuring the improv group Four Day Weekend, discussing the “yes, and…” method.

Step 2: Activity guidelines courtesy of a Huffington Post interview of Four Day Weekend, written by Andrew Cristi.

Two people face each other (in the COVID-19 era, this can be done virtually through video conferencing), and one person starts by saying any declarative statement. This statement can be as simple as, “I like to ride my bike to work each morning.” In improvisation it is our job not to judge any offering because in improvisation there are no wrong answers. So, because of this, person two simply listens to the original line and it is their job to build on the pertinent information of their partner “and” then add to the statement by saying, “Yes, and because I like riding my bike to work each day, I can stay in really good shape.” At this point the person who started now builds on this new pertinent information. “Yes, and because I get into really good shape, I decide to ride in the Tour de France.” This continues as the two participants take this story through the timeline of ideas. If it goes in the direction it often goes it will end in world peace. Improvisation has the power to change the world! We are not allowed to change the original idea; we are only allowed to build upon the pertinent information of our partners. We use this exercise to illustrate that when we do not judge ideas as “bad” or “good” we find that we step into the field of pure creativity and manifestation. The word “no” gives us the illusion of control and gives us the appearance of staying safe and in our comfort zone however by saying the word “yes” it rewards us with infinite possibilities. Many people fear saying “yes” because it takes us into the field of the unknown and this can be scary for people to take that leap. However, in improvisation we step into the field of the unknown with our team and this not only lessens the fear, but it also brings the exhilaration of infinite possibilities and this is where our great ideas lie. This is the magic of improvisation and anyone can access this potentiality by creating a harmonious environment of “yes, and.”



Andy Gold

A social entrepreneur & community college educator. @profandygold —