SALT LAKE CITY — In 2017, Jason Barron compiled countless hours of sketchnotes from his two-year Master of Business Administration program at Brigham Young University and self-published a book he titled "The Visual MBA."
Then, thanks to a kickstarter campaign that raised 1,000 percent of its goal, the husband and father of five not only covered the publishing costs, but he paid off his student debt and took his family to Disneyland.
But the heartwarming story doesn't end there. It actually gets better.
What started out as an ambitious idea to publish his visual class notes has now turned into a potential international best-selling book for Barron, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As an independent publisher, Barron estimates he sold about 2,500 copies. But the effort and time required to pack, ship and handle customer service led him to consider other options.
A friend with publishing experience suggested he find a book agent. Barron connected with David Fugate, the president and founder of LaunchBooks Literary Agency. Fugate got "The Visual MBA" in front of publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company (publisher of "Curious George," "Mary Poppins" and "Lord of the Rings") as well as other publishers, Barron said.
Not only did Houghton Mifflin Harcourt like Barron's work, they believed his book had major upside. The publisher has plans to translate "The Visual MBA" into at least 10 languages and release it worldwide. They also see potential for a series. Barron signed the deal, he said.
Now he's really glad he didn't give up on the idea, although he almost did several times.
"It's been incredible. I'm really humbled," Barron said. "It came back to that time when I wondered is anybody going to like this? My wife encouraged me. I'm so grateful I muscled through the opposition and pursued it. Because now looking back, it's like holy cow. Imagine if I wouldn't have? What if I had given up or abandoned it? I would have missed out on this great opportunity to help other people and have this book shared throughout the world. I really am just blown away and I'm grateful that I didn't listen to that little negative voice and just pushed through it."
"The Visual MBA: Two Years of Business School Packed into One Priceless Book of Pure Awesomeness" came out on April 16.
Barron, who produced his own handwritten font for the book, said the project has blessed his family in many ways. Not only was it financially beneficial, it served to unify, encourage creativity and creation, and hopefully inspire courage to do hard things.
"My kids have seen that I've accomplished something difficult, along with the tangible results of that," he said. "I hope it shows my kids in a really important way that if they work hard at something they can make something cool happen. It's possible."
His readers, including students and small-business owners, are grateful, too. Many have written to Barron praising the content and presentation. Using unique visual designs and objects, the book offers tips on how to make a good impression when meeting someone, how to build a brand, and other fundamentals of business. There has only been positive feedback, Barron said.1 comment on this story
"The content is easy to follow, very well laid out, concise yet extremely informative," one reader wrote to Barron. "I'll be using this as a valuable resource going forward."
It's been a challenging, yet satisfying journey, Barron said.
"It's been super satisfying," Barron said. "Opening the box and pulling out the books was awesome. It was such a great feeling. My kids were super excited and loved it. All the hard work leading up to that point made it all worth it."