Dick Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute, passed away on Friday, March 31, 2017. He had just celebrated his 90th birthday.
I saw Dick Bolles present at a few conferences, but didn’t talk to him. He was always talking to someone else, and I wanted more than a handshake and a smile.
My time came when I was speaking in his hometown, Danville, California. He and his wife, Marci, came and were in the audience. I always have butterflies when I’m in front of an audience, but this was like an extra dose of butterflies. THE GURU of job search… perhaps the father of modern day job search, was in the audience. He has flown around the world giving presentations, and in the decades since he penned the first edition of What Color is My Parachute, he’s seen, and done, it all.
I got a great introduction from Susan Joyce, owner of Job-Hunt.org, and had my first real, great, conversation with him, on the phone. It was actually short, but it was real. By the time we were in Danville our relationship progressed to the point where going out to lunch was only natural.
After my presentation he and Marci waited while I shook hands and said goodbye to individuals from the audience, and then we piled into his Buick (an Enclave, I think). I was wondering what this legend who had sold more than 10 million books drove… just a Buick. We drove about 15 minutes away to one of his favorite Asian restaurants, where we spent at least an hour in awesome, awesome conversation. From that conversation I’ll never forget when he said:
“Jason, your message, and my message, are the same.”
I was immediately intrigued. First, that he listened to my hour and a half presentation and paid enough attention to get “my message.” Second, because he could concisely say what “my message” was (I would have been hard-pressed, at the time, to tell you what my message was). And third, because he, The Legend, said that it was the same as his message. Awesome…!
“And what would you say our message is?”
“Our message,” he replied, “is a message of HOPE. We show people that they have options, and when they have options, they have hope. When they think they have run out of options, they are hopeless.”
I processed this and realized that he had, in one word, explained why I got on the road. Why I got up in front of audiences, even though it was uncomfortable. Why I would face the skeptics and the hecklers, and put my ideas in front of brilliant unemployed professionals so they could analyze and evaluate and question them.
Dick Bolles put my calling, passion, and purpose into perspective.
When he said “HOPE” I immediately got it. You see, I was a hopeless job seeker. I was at the end of my rope, with no hope. It was a dark, depressing place to be.
Life without hope does not end well. Dick said that we, in our own ways, gave hope. We inspired hope. We showed people options, and gave them a reason to keep trying, to keep doing, and to move closer to a job, where they didn’t need to worry about hope vs. despair.
You can believe that since that lunch, I’ve thought about hope every single day. I have taken his message, our message, to heart, and have understood the gravity of what we do.
What an honor to have Dick Bolles, the legend, the man who has touched millions of lives, even put in near himself in our quest to change the world, one job search at a time.
Thank you Dick Bolles, for the live you have lived and the legacy you have left. There are many, many thousands of career professionals who have been influenced by you, your words, your mission, your example, and they are influencing others… sharing the message of HOPE.