Making the decision, and Committing to Entrepreneurship
In 2007, I made the decision to be an entrepreneur. At the time, I had essentially failed out of college and had worked in sales for two years. To quote many family and friends, my future was uncertain. I was fortunate enough to be working with Ashley Collins, a Babson College undergrad. Selling had come easy to me, but it was through our frequent sharing of entrepreneurial ideas that I learned about my passion. Ashley would often speak of Babson and she mentioned the community, the faculty, and most of all the culture of student entrepreneurship. She invited me to an e-tower (entrepreneurship tower) event on campus, where I met an abundant number of aspiring entrepreneurs, like me.
I knew very quickly that e-tower, and Babson, were where I needed to be. Though, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get here. I had never performed well academically, and it had been so long since I had last been in the classroom. Convincing Babson that I was the right person to accept seemed an impossible feat. There were many who didn’t have faith, and at times, this included me.
Nevertheless, I was committed. I quit my sales job and went back to school at Mass Bay, a local community college, where I studied profusely. After hundreds of late nights, I managed to accomplish a 3.96 GPA, and was elected by my peers to serve as the President of Student Government. After a year, while many of my friends were applying to several schools, I submitted only one college application, and it was to Babson College.
On May 1st of 2009 I received a letter that read “Dear James: We have completed our review of transfer applications for the Fall 2009 semester. While the admissions committee was impressed with many aspects of your application, I regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you admission to Babson College. The admission process was extremely competitive with a large number of candidates vying for only a few available spaces.”
Many thoughts went through my mind that afternoon; thoughts of doubt, uncertainty, disappointment. After all, I knew I needed to come here, but my challenge was to prove my worthiness to Babson. My ambition quickly took over. I was particularly inspired by Randy Pausch; many of you will recognize him as the professor from Carnegie Mellon who gave “The Last Lecture.”
Randy said “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.”
Obviously my story doesn’t end there; otherwise I wouldn’t be standing in front of you today. I continued studying, and after the following semester, I again submitted my one and only application to Babson College. However, this time, I got in.
Over the past 2 years, Babson has provided me with the resources and the education necessary to successfully launch my own business in the United States and Canada.
We all have experienced challenges before and during our time at Babson. It started when we came to orientation and suddenly needed to memorize this ridiculous number of acronyms! (OEM, MCE, FME, ASM, MCFE, AHF, HSF… we all know the list goes on).
Think back to the days of FME, when you had to start and run a company at the age of 18. Regardless of your financial results, that was an incredible achievement.
If I can leave you with one piece of advice that I learned from my time it Babson, it is this. Know what you want, make a plan to achieve it, and do whatever it takes to make it a reality. Never accept no as an answer.
I’d like to thank all of you for an incredible three years; I would like to thank the faculty, staff and administration that make this incredible school possible. I’d like to thank Janet, Cindy and Antonette, as well as everyone involved with the Blank Center. I would also like to thank everyone at the admissions office; in particular, Christine Kenyon. And of course, I would like to thank my family, friends, and extremely understanding girlfriend Kirsi.