2.28.2011

A little box on my desk on a Monday morning

It's been five years since I had my own business cards to hand out. Well, that's not exactly true. I had hundreds of them, five years ago. It's just that each one became outdated in about 8-12 months, and then did nothing for me during my subsequent periods of unemployment. We made jokes about wallpapering the bathroom with them, but never did. Finally, poised in front of the recycling bin, I thought I should save some for posterity, but single cards were pretty boring; it was the sight of outdated cards en masse that made them even vaguely compelling. I'd gotten laid off so many times that business cards began to seem very silly to me. Especially since most of my business cards were for positions in start-up nonprofits, or universities, so they weren't authentically representative of the field I was in, anyway - we weren't conducting business at all. What was I doing with all these piles of non-business business cards? They seemed to represent my twenties.

Finally, at age 29, I joined a business. And it's been working out so far. Five years in and I'm still here. I'm on my fourth boss, but I've had her for 3 of those 5 years. Most of my work has internal-facing, so I've been able to introduce myself directly to my colleagues, and then simply try to be memorable. Who needed a business card? Which was good, because though I was a rather stable situation, my job title and duties continued to evolve quickly. This suited me perfectly. I was finally in a business, but had no interest in tying myself to any one business card. "I don't have a business card, but let me take yours and send you an email," I'd say on occasion when working with an outsider. I didn't mind having to be the only one to say that. I am never bothered by being different; quite the opposite. (My life coach raises her eyebrows when I say things like this and says "Rebellious?" All I can say is, look, I'm trying not to be.)

After a lot of hard work, I obtained a new job in January - same business, same boss, but different responsibilities - many of them engaging people outside my company, which made my practice of relying on just "being memorable" a tad more difficult. Two months of shaking hands with people who are not my co-workers, accepting their business cards, and then explaining my new, exciting role in depth, and promising to contact them --- this got old without business cards, especially when I realized I wanted to spend my time in ways other than sending emails to all my business card contacts.

And here they are. I ordered the smallest amount available - 250. Even though I hope that they become outdated due to another promotion or even, eventually, another role change (since that most enables my thriving, curious, growing self),  I also hope I get these cards out to people. Let them know where I am, what I'm doing, and how to reach me. I never want these cards to sit on the floor of my study - I want them on the desks of my contacts. And I want those contacts to be people I'm learning from - people who have something to teach me. Because I am finally in a position to pass on that teaching to many people- and that makes each one of these cards a little icon of empowerment. That's pretty cool.