What Color is Your Parachute – Story 1

As suggested by my uncle, I picked up a copy of the award-winning novel What Color is Your Parachute to help figure out what it is exactly I want for my life. The book is recommending that I write a series of seven stories in order to identify some of my own personal qualities. While it doesn’t suggest posting the works publicly, I thought it would be a great opportunity to post more content to this blog. Enjoy 🙂

Story 1: 

In my previous employment, I was the high school yearbook advisor. The really cool thing about this position was that it was a class-based activity, which meant that I got time to teach the students how to brainstorm, craft, and sell the book itself utilizing knowledge that I have gained in the past. Since I had an inkling that I was not coming back this year, I decided early on in the year that my goal was to not only make ends meet, but to also have enough money available to purchase cameras, workshops, and more.

The previous year, we barely broke even. I recall we were above by about $800; enough to buy a camera, but not much else. Also, the previous year we didn’t sell as many personal and business advertisements which was our main income besides yearbook sales (which didn’t sell well the past year either – we had roughly 50 books left). So, with last year in mind, I knew that I couldn’t waste a single dime when it came to managing the yearbook this year.

Overall, the goal was this: to produce a yearbook that is founded on a simplistic, cost-saving style, that is effective and well received by the student population (i.e. sells out). In order to do this, I suggested to the student that they cut the order from 275 yearbooks to 250 – utilizing data from the previous year sales. We utilized the same sales strategy as the previous year, but with emphasis on selling more advertisements to local businesses.

The last step that I knew would help get the book sold out was by making the book worth the cost of the book. For $60, the book needs to be something that is unique – something that students will take the time to read. The problem with the previous book was that it was filled with a lot of pictures, but they didn’t have context. I taught my students how to write effective stories, though short, in order to gain the attention of their readers.

The end result was an overwhelming success. We sold a record amount of business ads (though parent ads did fall slightly). The most overwhelming success was in the sales of the book. We were absolutely on target with sales – 250 books sold before the last week of school. It got so bad that we had to sell books we weren’t supposed to really sell (gifted by our publisher – thanks). In the end, we still had to turn students away. Furthermore, the students who were in charge of sales were brilliant. We made about $3,000+ in profits this year, which will be perfect for the group coming in next year. My goal was successful and, even though I am not coming back next year, I know that the program is strong (and I left copious notes for my replacement so that he/she won’t screw it up).


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