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The How-To Guide to Business, Life, and Everything in Between

Want to change careers? Sink a putt? Perform magic? Babson experts share their insight.

HOW TO Perform a Magic Trick

Practice, practice, practice. If you can, practice in front of a mirror or on video, too. This will help you understand the weak spots in a routine and perfect it.

Find an audience. You can learn only so much from practicing alone. A live audience brings a whole new element to performing.

Be entertaining. The true masters can take an elementary illusion and make it look like a miracle. They understand that magic is not about the trick; it is about their ability to entertain. When performing, be relaxed. Smile, tease the audience members, and have fun. Not only will this make you more interesting to watch, but it also will make your magic more effective. The laughter can serve as a huge misdirection. The audience stops focusing on figuring out the trick and instead gets sucked into the wonder.

Lance Burton, one of the best magicians, told me, “The only mistakes you make are the ones you acknowledge.” Amateur magicians mess this up all the time. If something goes wrong, roll with it. The absolute worst thing to do is point out the error. I have performed more than 1,500 shows worldwide. Of course, mistakes happen. But the audience doesn’t know how the trick should go, so 95 percent of the time I can cover up the errors and keep going.—Jonathan Jacques ’13 has been performing professionally as a magician since the age of 10. He appears mainly at corporate and trade events.

How to Survive Jet Lag

HOW TO Survive Jet Lag

Select flights that leave at a time of day when you have a full night’s rest. If you can sleep on a plane, try a night flight. Drink lots of fluids, but no alcohol because it dehydrates. Relax and do not worry about the clock. The worst thing to do is constantly remind yourself that while it is breakfast time in Indonesia, it is dinnertime in Boston. Exercise whenever you have time in your schedule. Take short catnaps whenever you can and do not fret if you stay up all night because of the time change. Eat small, light meals as opposed to larger ones. Of course, this is easier said than done when you’re served those great exotic meals.—Shahid Ansari, who as Babson Global’s CEO and the College’s provost, travels overseas about once a month.

HOW TO Sink a Putt

First, you have to read the putt from behind the ball. You’re looking to see how the greens slope, so with that in mind, then walk to the side and imagine how the slope will affect the ball’s path to the hole. This will give you an indication of the break and speed of the putt. Second, take a stance slightly behind the ball, look at the hole, and take a couple of practice swings. Make sure your putter blade is square. Your hands should be soft and even with or ahead of the putter head on the follow through. Your left arm should feel like an extension of the putter.

Third, place the putter behind the ball, keep your head down, eyes still, and concentrate on imitating your best practice stroke. Each time you putt, you should use the same routine and be positive. I refer to the sage advice of Harvey Penick, a well-known teacher of the pros: The more time you spend on the putting green, the better your golf scores will be. Practice is the key.—Candida Brush started playing golf when she was 8 years old and today plays anywhere from 35 to 50 rounds a summer. She is the F. W. Olin Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship and chair of the Entrepreneurship Division.

HOW TO Move on From Business Failure

There are no right or wrong answers, and I certainly wish there were one of those nine-step plans. How did I do it? When I closed down my education fundraising startup, Swellr, I talked about it openly, honestly, and, most important, humbly. I told my story to anyone who would listen, because stories allow for two important things (among many): They teach, and they inspire progress.

The story I told was not one of failure. No one wanted to listen to that because we all fail at one time or another. The story I chose to tell was how learning unveils opportunity. I shared what I set out to do (my hypothesis), why it didn’t work (my results), and what I will correct my next time at the plate (my learning). I discovered that moving myself forward started with helping others avoid taking my same steps backward.

What happened next? Sharing this knowledge refueled my desire to seek out more answers and start something new. So don’t hide or dwell on what could have been. Embrace every occurrence of failure, big or small, as a new opportunity to learn, teach, and move the world around you forward.—Shonak Patel ’06 is cofounder of GatherEducation, a platform for teaching online.

HOW TO Perform Like the King

I have been an Elvis tribute artist for about four years. The main thing you need is an Elvis jumpsuit. I’ve noticed that some ETAs are not very good, but they have a jumpsuit, so people feel entertained. Most performers opt for the white jumpsuit, mostly the Aloha suit, but I find that cliche. I chose the red Burning Love suit because it stands out more, and I got a really good deal on it.

The second thing one needs is the Elvis lip. Although Elvis normally curled his lip on the left side, either side is OK. Most people are able to curl their top lip up only on one side, but not both. I’m sure you’re trying it right now and see that I’m right (I hope no one can see you). There is no correlation between which side of your lip you can curl and whether you’re right- or left-handed. The good thing is that most people won’t notice which side of your lip you curl. They also most likely won’t know which side Elvis curled. So as long as you can do one side, you’re all set.

The last thing one needs is sideburns. I’ve seen people called “Elvis” just because they had sideburns even though they looked nothing like him. But that’s what people expect. There is one exception in time: During the 1990s, Luke Perry on Beverly Hills 90210 held the trademark on sideburns in the public’s perception. Now that we’re past that, if you have sideburns, you’re halfway to being an ETA.

There are many other factors, but sometimes you have to guard the tricks of the trade. The last thing we need is hundreds of Elvis Presleys all over Babson.—Steve Heaslip performs as Elvis at weddings and special events. He’s manager of auxiliary services and the OneCard office at Babson.

HOW TO Master Sales Conversations

Nobody likes feeling “sold” to, yet everyone’s had the experience where another person brought something worthwhile to their attention and helped them see new possibilities. Great sales conversations ensure the latter feeling without the former.

Remember your desired outcomes. You want to resonate with buyers so they want what you’re selling, differentiate from other options so buyers see yours as the best choice, and substantiate your claims so buyers believe you. During sales conversations, you should build rapport, bring buyers’ afflictions and aspirations to the surface, help them see the impact of moving forward with you, and help them believe the new reality, or what going from point A (undesirable current state) to point B (desirable future state) looks like. Add it all up, and you have the acronym RAIN (Rapport, Aspirations and Afflictions, Impact, and New Reality).

Also, some sales pundits will tell you to focus on asking questions, and others to hone your pitch. The secret: Aim for the middle. You’ll make the deepest connections and have the most success by balancing talking with asking questions.—Mike Schultz, MBA’02, is an adjunct faculty member in the Marketing Division, author of Rainmaking Conversations, and president of RAIN Group, a sales assessment, training, and consulting company.

HOW TO Buy a Good Bottle of Wine

Experiment—attend a tasting or buy some bottles—to find out what you like. Learn about the varietals (chardonnay, merlot, etc.) and their characteristics. Don’t assume they’re all alike. Each country and vintage has unique qualities. Get to know your local wine shop owner. Describe your taste to the sommelier or shop owner to receive guidance on your selection. Don’t buy by the label, and don’t shy away from screw caps. If you find a wine you love, take a picture of the label so you can keep a record of what you like. Keeping a journal is also nice. Remember that generally the more expensive a wine, the better the quality (and less of a headache). Don’t forget that buying wine is a personal thing. Buy what you know and what suits your tastes.—Tammy Lamenzo is part owner of Higgins Wine & Spirits in Dover, Mass. She’s program coordinator at Babson Executive Education.

HOW TO Shoot a Great Video

Tell a story that interests you. A story should communicate information about its characters and the challenges they face, and it should include a resolution. It doesn’t need to be an epic tale, but including these elements will help your audience understand and stay interested in your production.

Plan it out. Identify what you find interesting about your subject and create a story around it. Anything that distracts from that story is now your enemy, and bad audio and poor lighting are public enemy numbers one and two. Control your production environment as much as possible. At a minimum, use external microphones for the audio, and make sure the brightest light source is in front of your subject. To add a professional look, frame your shots using the rule of thirds, a compositional technique (examples are found online).

Now you can focus on adding the layers that will breathe life into your story and keep the audience’s attention. Add music to elicit an emotion. If your video feels long, try changing the music, or theme, every 30 seconds (you’ll be surprised how well that works). Use b-roll, or supplemental footage, to illustrate and reinforce what the audience is hearing.

Finally, remember to keep it simple. Don’t get carried away by the technology, or it will become distracting.—James Regal is Babson’s senior multimedia manager.

HOW TO Survive FME

One word: teamwork. However cliche it may sound, the Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship course is all about working on a team. You work, learn, and live together and establish a strong bond with your “co-workers.” Often, they become some of your closest friends, though that can make for difficult situations. Say you’re faced with holding one of your VPs accountable for his poor performance. What do you do if that VP is also your best friend? You have to balance friendships with work relationships, which isn’t easy to do. It’s not something you can learn in a normal classroom environment, but that’s what makes FME so unique.—Shayna Duff ’13 and Will Hallock ’14 are FME mentors, who assist professors and support students throughout the course’s business development process.

HOW TO Pick Good Business Partners

Many people suggest you partner in business with someone you can trust. Others suggest you never do business with friends or family, which seemingly contradicts the first suggestion. In my opinion, the three most important factors are shared passion, trust, and communication.

Although my partner, Cameron Jacox ’13, and I didn’t know each other well when we started our business, we were both strongly tied to Babson and E-Tower. If you don’t know your potential partner that well, common ties or mutual professional contacts can help you establish a higher level of trust early on. The second piece, shared passion, is equally or more important. Starting a business is one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do. You don’t want doubts about your partner’s work ethic or commitment to the venture to stand in the way of progress.

Finally, find a good communicator. Unvoiced concerns or ideas can bottle up into frustrations. A healthy business partnership is one of transparency and communication of all issues, good and bad.—James Hilton ’12 co-founded Jacox-Hilton, a company that performs analyses of life insurance policies for insurance providers, with Cameron Jacox ’13.

HOW TO Launch a Music Career

First, work your butt off to create music that blows people’s minds. Practice actually does make perfect. Second, build a fan base by doing any combination of the following: touring your ass off 200-plus days a year (the real way to do it), getting your music licensed with film or television (requires luck), or becoming a YouTube sensation (a bit of a fairy tale).

Third, use buzz from your fan base to attract a “board of directors” (i.e., manager and booking agent). Work together to create a brand, book bigger shows, and bring the music to the next level. The music industry is such a crazy and constantly evolving business, but with hard work, good tunes, and a lot of luck, you might be the next Bieber.—Jamie Kent ’09 is a singer-songwriter who has played throughout the U.S. with his band, The Options.

HOW TO Build a Business with No Money

The best way is to just start. That’s what I did last January when I began counSOUL, a career coaching company. I set up a blog, interviewed anyone who had a perspective on career malaise, and wrote about what I was reading and learning two times a week. I put all my fears about why not to do it to the side and started asking, “What if?” There was a totally different energy around the concept when I stopped telling people, “I am thinking about starting this business,” and instead told them, “I have started researching my business called City Retreat” (its name at the time). Unexpectedly, people with access to research and entrepreneurial know-how came out of the woodwork to help.

Over the course of the year, I wrote a white paper, built an advisory board, made the semifinals of the MassChallenge startup competition (a great way to get your business down on two pages and nail your feet to the ground with a deadline), recruited a team of coaches, created our first product, built a website, and landed our first individual and corporate customers. All this took shape through the act of doing it, rather than thinking about it. We’re now in a great position to raise our first friends and family round because we can point to the small, steady ways that we have made traction.—Ursula Liff, MBA’09, launched counSOUL in 2012.

HOW TO Reduce Waste

It’s easy. Start with recycling and ditching those single-use water bottles and lunch bags. Buy multiuse products instead. Next, check out these pointers.

  • Reuse and repurpose. Embrace the current trend of up-cycling and transform your old items into something new.
  • Donate old and gently used items to your local charity or thrift store. You’ll be giving back to the community while stopping waste.
  • Buy less. You will have more money, your life will feel less cluttered, and you will stop waste at its source. For every ton of post-consumer waste, many more tons of pre-consumer waste are created in the manufacturing process. So ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”—Sarah Lehnert ’15, marketing and communications intern, Babson Sustainability Office.

HOW TO Change Careers

The two biggest challenges for me were money and stress of the unknown. I had a six-figure salary in finance with little stress, but I wasn’t fulfilled. Knowing that I wanted to buy a small business, I searched for small companies within industries that excited me. After 18 months of searching, I discovered and bought Beyond the Shaker.

The key to overcoming my roadblocks? Mental fortitude. Find something you enjoy, throw caution to the wind, and push away any personal doubts. Mentally block out anything standing in your way. Tell yourself that you will achieve this, you will be happier, and you will deal with the new stress. Also, be passionate and don’t quit. Changing careers is a risk, but passion about the new endeavor mitigates the risk. I have doubted myself 1,000 times in the process. I’m stressed out and haven’t yet taken a paycheck. But I couldn’t be happier with the journey.—Scott Rousseau, MBA’11, is president and owner of Beyond the Shaker, a gourmet sea salt company.

HOW TO Ski Powder

Many recreational skiers, especially in the East, have a problem skiing powder. On the next powder day, remember these tips.

Ski the slope in sections. Always know where you are going to stop before you start. This will give you a goal. It doesn’t matter if it’s two turns or five turns away. Skiing the slope in sections is a powerful technique and builds confidence that will eventually allow you to ski longer sections.

Don’t over turn your skis. Let the friction of the snow slow you down. By doing this, you’ll notice that turn initiation will become much easier and you’ll have more energy to ski. Also, stand tall between turns. This will move your hips over your feet and allow you to stay in a balanced position. That will take the pressure off of your thighs and allow your position to turn the skis rather than your strength. The end result? You’ll be able to stop at the location you originally selected. Remember, powder is the ultimate experience on skis, and if you approach it this way, you can begin to unlock the magic that awaits you.—Dan Egan ’87 is the owner and founder of SkiClinics.com, which runs ski camps and leads adventure travel trips.

HOW TO Make a Ship in a Bottle

In my early 30s, I was given a kit to make a ship in a bottle. The end result was so bad, I tossed my ship in the trash. With some research I found Modelling Ships in Bottles by Jack Needham, which detailed not only how to make a decent ship but also gave advice on what kinds of bottles to use and how to decorate and display them. Armed with this info and some experience at woodworking, I made a ship from scratch, plus a homemade stand with a nicely edged base plate and a replica of a ship’s wheel. Finally, a cleat and knotwork at the neck of the bottle produced an impressive result.

So what’s the secret of fitting the ship into the bottle? The ship is built outside the bottle with all rigging coming out through the bowsprit at the front of the model. It is then collapsed, inserted into the bottle, and masts and sails are raised by pulling the rigging lines that come out of the bottle. Final gluing and adjusting is done with long, thin, homemade tools. You are working with small pieces in a confined space, so patience is key. —Roy Cornelius, P’11, has made from scratch about 36 ships in a bottle. He is director of operations in the College’s Facilities Department.

HOW TO Throw a Curveball

The key to throwing a real knee buckler is to hurl it exactly the same way as your fastball except at your release point: Instead of having your fingers behind the ball, you want your fingers on top of the ball, wrapping around the side of it. Grips can vary, but a common grip is with the middle finger along the horseshoe of the ball and the thumb underneath. The trick is to get the rotation going end over end, which causes the ball to curve, as if moving from 12:00 to 6:00 on a clock. An effective curveball will come out of the pitcher’s hand looking just like a fastball, so that’s what the batter will prepare to hit, but then the ball will drop under the hitter’s bat or at least miss his barrel.—Andrew Aizenstadt ’11 pitched last year with the Clearwater Threshers, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies.

HOW TO Invest in the Stock Market

As always, very carefully. Four steps: know yourself; understand the markets that you’re investing in; have a view on the future—political, economic, and demographic; and select assets that meet your portfolio objectives and fit your strategy. Most investors rely entirely on the opinions and expertise of others, which works as long as you do your due diligence. Remember, it is your portfolio.

Adding a degree of difficulty are major changes in equity markets as we know them. The theory of finance has changed from market efficiency to behavioral finance; stock transactions have changed from floor trading to high frequency and algorithmic trading; and exchange-traded funds, a relatively new technological innovation to stock bundling, have changed what trades, when, and often, how. All have important impacts on what you choose, how it trades, and how it will behave in your portfolio.—Diana Harrington, Babson Distinguished Professor of Finance.

HOW TO Fly a Plane

On the surface, it’s no different from driving a car or riding a bike. Just another dimension and a few more controls. The real challenge is to fly alone. To solo. That is the life-changing experience that no pilot ever forgets.

Soloing takes only 10 to 15 hours of instruction, there is no written test to study for, and the cost is reasonable at $120 per hour for a small plane and instructor. That’s less than $2,000, not much to pay for a chance to test yourself. As you depart the ground solo for the first time, the realization strikes that you are alone, unable to receive help, and that your life depends on your ability to think and perform.

Such an experience is actually the best training for entrepreneurship. No business venture is a cakewalk. You’ll hit walls, face tough times, and possibly teeter on the brink of financial ruin. Will you have the strength to continue? If you’ve flown solo, you’ll know what that moment feels like, and you’ll welcome the challenge.—Bendrix Bailey ’79, who has been flying since his teens, currently flies a Cessna 185 on floats. He runs an early venture consulting business, and his office is at the Plymouth Municipal Airport in Plymouth, Mass.

HOW TO Dance Without Looking Silly

You need the right mindset. I always perform in the faculty/staff dance during the Babson Dance Ensemble performances. I love the people, I love learning the dance, I love the response from the students. I don’t think any of us on stage or those in the audience ever think of our performance as “silly.” The dance is all about not being perfect. We practice and practice until we are as good as we can be. What we hope people see is a group of faculty and staff who enjoy doing something together—something outside their comfort zone but that they’re OK with—and who choose to share their enthusiasm with an appreciative audience.—Dawna Travis Dewire, P’08, ’13, senior lecturer in information systems, has performed in the faculty/staff dance at Babson Dance Ensemble performances for more than 10 years.

HOW TO Launch a Business in 48 Hours

Settle on an execution-worthy idea by hour three. This isn’t about originality. It’s about finding something that people will pay for and that you’ll care enough about to follow through on. Take advantage of core experiences, abilities, interests, and relationships. Put everything on the table: hobbies, networks, and everyday pain points. Everything is a hypothesis to be tested, validated, refined, or scrapped. If you don’t have the skills or know someone who does, forget the idea for now. Also, invest sweat and skills, not money. You’ll regret making large investments this early. Set executable milestones.

You must make hundreds of micro-decisions in a short period. Sidestep prolonged debates about minutia like logo design. Perfect is the enemy of good enough. Once you have an idea, spend most of your time defining and redefining and speaking with potential customers. If you match a new product or service to the needs of a paying customer, mission accomplished.—Stephen Douglass, MBA’12, is the founder of Scramble Systems LLC, which organizes StartUp Scrambles, weekend-long events in which participants build business ventures.

 

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