Jack's 3 Rules to his Graduating Class

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Thu, Apr 28, 2016

13 Weeks of marketing classes ended yesterday at Tufts...

  • The semester's 16 page syllabus was sent out on December 27th
  • Along with five complex, semester-long, corporate marketing projects  
  • Five teams were formed around each project requiring research and full marketing plans
  • We tackled three HBR cases studies during the first four weeks
  • We took field trips to Hubspot & Brainshark to learn their platforms
  • We learned blogging, keyword definitions, content construction...and a lot more
  • We filled a toolbox with SWOT, Targeting, Persona, Pricing, and Value Proposition tools


...all of that came to end yesterday with the last of the 50 minute presentations and the handing over all of the research documents and supporting materials to the management teams of these five companies who came to Tufts for the final presentations.

The photo above is Team CPS (Critical Process Systems) presenting to the CEO and his senior management the results of their semester-long marketing plan for two potential new markets.  The CEO's comments after the presentation..."We cannot thank you enough for the effort and excellent information and presentation".

Every semester is both exciting and physically and emotionally exhausting both for me and for the students. I'm actually never sure who is more concerned and more uncertain about both the opening and the end of every semester...me or the students?  With relatively few surprises, but also more than a few adjustments, we always make it through leaving a strong sense of accomplishment both for the students and for the management of their host companies that is "just extraordinary", which was a quote from the SGS CEO at the end of their presentations last week.

in the last 15 minutes of the last class of the semester, I give ...

Jack's "3 Rules" Speech to his Graduates

1. Always Make and Nurture Your Connections

Life is about creating, nurturing and keeping the connections that you make.  That occurs in your personal lives with lovers and partners, with friends in high school and at Tufts, and, of course, with your family.  The same sense of responsibility to make, maintain and keep connections is tantamount to your success at work and in your life. You will find in your careers, as we have found during this semester, that your ability to reach out to these connections will continue to be a key ingredient in achieving greater success.

Nothing is more important than connections and friendships.  You need to go out of your way to make sure that you are always connected and always reaching out to nurture and cherish these connections, both in your personal lives and in your careers.

2. Always Embrace Learning

We have just finished 13 weeks of an exhausting semester.  Nothing is easy about this course, and I purposefully plan it to be that way.  You've learned a variety of new skills in marketing and applied them to industries that you had never heard of before in telemedicine, non-corrosive process systems, auto cybersecurity, restaurant CRM systems, and healthcare robotics.

Most importantly, you have also gained an appreciation that as of today, all of that information is somewhat obsolete.  Two years from now, we will look at the marketing tools that we've learned as incredibly out of date, and every one of these industries and companies will have taken a giant leap forward in their technologies and in their company structures.

And as a result, you have a responsibility, no, an obligation to continue to learn.  Some of you will go on to graduate school and others will continue their learning in a wide variety of on-the-job applications, but this particular "Jack Rule" constitutes an individual responsibility for the rest of your lives to remain intellectually curious, to push and stretch yourselves into the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable so that you are always maintaining that intellectual edge that you have gained in this course and at this wonderful university.

3.  Break Some Rules 

You are at one of the top universities in the world.  In order to get here, you needed to be in the top percentiles of high school students academically.  You excelled in clubs, in sports and in your community activities.  You conformed...most of the time..., and you stayed out of trouble...most of the time.

This summer, and off and on during your careers and your lives, I want you to break a few rules.  

  • Be the innovator.  Be the entrepreneur.  Don't conform.  Be "that different person"
  • Be the person who asks "Why do we do it that way?".  
  • Be the person who pushes against the limits and tests the status quo

So let's all stay connected for the rest of our lives.  You've already connected with me on LI.  Friend me and connect with me on Twitter. Or just send me an update email every few months.  I'm always there for you all of the time.

Let's all continue to learn and be curious and stretch beyond our current capacity.  

...and let's all continue to stay on the edge of a few rules...for the rest of our lives!

Tufts Love, you guys!


I'm kicking off my semi-annual hunt for six new marketing projects for my fall Tufts students.  

tufts entrepeneurs business plans Jack Derby marketing Each semester the marketing content of my class is wrapped around six real-life projects provided by a variety of companies who are looking for research and solutions for new products or markets. 

Each team consists or four or five juniors and seniors who spend the entire semester focused on learning about marketing and then applying those principles and tactics to develop full marketing plans and research reports for their customers.  

Just as examples, some of this semester's projects consist of... 

  • CPS, above looking to enter new markets 
  • a North Carolina telemedicine business wanting to expand its market
  • a national company wanting to enter the auto cybersecurity market
  • an advanced robotics company entering a new market with a new product
  • A restaurant/convenience store rewards company launching a new product 

Over the years, we have now completed 96 company projects ranging in size from a large division of a Fortune 500 corporation a couple of years ago to two hot tech startups-Spotlight Parking and Crayon-last semester.

For this spring's semester, we had 18 companies apply for the slots that we had available.  For this coming fall's semester, I need to make decisions by June 15th at which time I will send the students the first draft of the fall syllabus and the project outlines since they will need to do research and form their teams over the summer.

If you choose to participate, I absolutely guarantee that you will find this an exciting, stimulating and very rewarding process for your company and one that will certainly become part of your own learning experience.

If you're interested, just email me at Jack@derbymanagement.com, and I'll send you an instruction sheet which outlines the requirements and the logistics for this coming fall semester. 

Tufts Love!  

  Jack Derby 

 Head Coach  

 Derby Management...for 25 years
 -Sales & Marketing Productivity Experts
 -Business & Strategy Planning Specialists
 -Senior Management Coaches for CEOs & VPs

 Box 171322, Boston, MA 02117
 Jack's Cell: 617-504-4222 

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Tags: Tufts marketing projects, Tufts university, Tufts ELS program, Tufts Marketing