The Year of Trump: 16 Things That 2016 Taught Me – Ian Ortega

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How can a year be so bad yet so great at the same time? On 4th January 2016, my year started off in the worst style ever. I lost the most beautiful woman, my saint, my angel. She crossed over to the other world. There are many pains in the world, but the pain of losing a mother is in its own category. It can’t be compared. If there’s one thing that will mature you up so quickly, it’s losing a mother. My year started on the low note, the lowest note the piano of my life had ever hit.

There comes a point in life when you hit your lowest point that the only option left is for you to rise. I hit rock bottom, there was no other bottom for me to hit. When I rose, I came out stronger. So when I talk about a year so bad, this is the bad. But is it really bad?

Weeks later, I graduated from Kyambogo University with a Bachelor’s of Engineering Degree in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. It was shocking to many who’ve tried their level best to define me regardless of how many times I have made it clear that I have no labels. I don’t

Self-label. In the same aspect, I have no self-judgment. When I look at the man in the mirror, I don’t label him good or bad, engineer or blogger. I have transcended titles and labels. I simply create. I am not what I do. Simply, I am.

Since this is 2016, I will spend the rest of your 16 minutes chattering away about 16 Things that 2016 Taught Me:


  1. Self-Awareness is the Starting Point

If there’s anything I do better than most people, it’s being self-aware. I know me in and out. 2016 taught me that self-awareness is the most important skill you can ever have in life. You must be an expert on yourself. Self-awareness is the reason I will say “NO” to a million things and say “YES” to a certain thing. I am constantly receiving requests to guest-write. I turn down 99.9 percent of these. I turn down 99 percent of TV interview requests, events invitations. I really know how to pick the apples from the oranges. I don’t wanna be the fish that’s trying to climb a tree and spends the rest of its life thinking itself dumb. That’s why my self-awareness is never ending. I know my strengths, I know my weaknesses, I know what pools to swim in, and which pools will drown me.


  1. The only thing that works is WORK

When I was young and ignorant, I wasted time looking for a secret formula. 2016 was that final stamp that the only thing that works is WORK. If you are caught up in a dead-end job or career, the only way out is through Work. I am constantly telling my colleagues at that we are only good as our next result. We are only as good as our next article, our next achievement. The past achievements do not count. We must keep working. So on a deep level, 2016 taught me to value work.

  1. Patience and Persistence is 90 Percent of Success 

It is not about talent, it is not about intelligence, it’s not about skill or connections. Much of what we know as success is mere patience and persistence. That ability to hang in there when all signs say you should quit. has grown over the years because of patience, there’s no secret formula we pulled off, just patience and persistence. 2016 has re-affirmed this.

  1. The Mainstream Media Has Lost Its Sting

It is hurting to write this but the power of the mainstream media has been decoupled. The fact that Trump won is proof enough that the mainstream media no longer has that influence over people. I guess Trump’s win was one big question to the mainstream media; “where art thou your sting?”

  1. Political Correctness Has Peaked

The hurt feelings brigade, the grievance brigade, the political correctness activists, the social justice warriors, they have hit the end of the road. You just have to study the global trends and patterns to confirm this. Trump’s win, the Brexit, those are all tell-tale signs that the masses can’t be held prisoners to the political correctness police.

  1. It is better to have guts than brains

Despite what you’ve been taught all along, it’s all about guts. You see a person you like, no need to use your brains, go out and talk to them. See an opportunity, go out and grab it. Stop over-thinking things.

  1. Crisis is good, Competition is good

Many blogs have stemmed up this year. Many closed up sooner than they launched. I now know that it is only through crisis and competition that great quality, innovation and creativity can arise.

  1. The man of the future must be Anti-Fragile

Donald Trump taught the world what it means to be free, and how a free man acts and the true living definition of anti-fragile. As Nassim K Taleb wrote in his book, “Anti-fragile are things that gain from disorder and stressors.” Trump is a modern day Hydra. You cut off one head, he grows two in return. The men of the future must be anti-fragile. Regardless of how the media hit out at him, he only grew stronger. 2016 made me desire to become a Hydra.

  1. Reading is great; but execution is King

Some people are all about ideas. But ideas can’t be left on their own. At the end of the day, execution is everything. We started off the year at the bottom pile among campus blogs. By the end of the year, through agile execution, is the most popular campus blog in Uganda. Stop talking, start acting.

  1. Background over Highlights

2016 saw me reject many TV appearances. The more I rejected them, the more they kept coming. I chose to focus on the backgrounds. 2016 taught me that the people who actually move things are in the background. They are the people who control the highlights.

  1. Rebels always win

What is Charisma? What is charm? This year saw the death of Fidel Castro. He refused to conform. He was a rebel, a contrarian. Yet he emerged victorious. Putin has done the same. 2016 taught me that if you believe in something, stick by it. Let no one tell you otherwise. Don’t conform, dare to be different. Time will always vindicate you.

  1. Travel as much as you can. The eyes of wisdom are hidden in travel.
  1. 13. Avoid regrets at all costs. Better to make mistakes than regret not doing something.
  1. Emotional intelligence trumps IQ. Your social skills count more than your IQ, your SAT scores.
  1. The era of fake entrepreneurs is coming to an end. 2017 will weed out all the pretenders to this throne. That is the beauty of entrepreneurship.
  1. If you are happy, you have won. Happiness is my only Key Performance Indicator. If you are not happy, then what’s the point?

With that said, 2016 also saw appointing the first Female Managing Editor of an Online Media House. This also gave me more time to venture out in other fields. My entrepreneurship fuels are burning more than before. 2016 was the year of Trump. Let’s make 2017 great again.

Ian Ortega is an avid reader, mechanical and Manufacturing Engineer who has spent the last 5 years experimenting, learning and battling reality distortion field.He's also a co-founder and writer at and

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