There. I’ve done it. I’ve ordered business cards. I promised my partner in crime, a person we’ll call “Shawn,” because that is his name, that I would leave the ranks of losers and get them made. We were at our Educator-Entrepreneur meetup last night. The crowd is getting quite large, especially for a state that barely fits full-sized vehicles. So large, in fact, that we have stuffed Tazza, our Downcity coffeeshop, to capacity. I didn’t have business cards. I found myself apologizing.
“Teachers don’t have business cards,” I apologized. “Only important people have them.”
Even so, it was a good event. Tons of people were meeting, smiling, connecting, and discussing their ventures. Partnerships formed, people pitched products. Business cards were being thrown down like aces in Vegas. For a minute, I thought I had actually ended up at the casino. I wanted to play, too. But I had no cards. So I had to be like the lady with the drink that always stands behind James Bond and does not play.
Business cards are like little gifts–“Here, I present my awesomeness to you.” Sadly, I came to Christmas unprepared. No awesomeness to present.
In my old corporate days, I had cards– standard company-issued ones. They were boring, but they served their purpose of making a recent college grad feel important enough to have a card. That card was worth a lot of student loan debt.
In this crowd, those just won’t do. Innovators and entrepreneurs have awesome business cards–ones that give you badges, ones that have shapes, designs, and convert into tiny gadgets. There was even one that ordered me another beverage when mine was running low. I expect no less from entrepreneurs. If you can’t impress me with a business card, how will you impress someone important with a pitch?
The charter school teachers all had cards. They’re on that cutting edge. But public school teachers–not so much. Society doesn’t think we’re very important. If we were important, we wouldn’t have so many people babysitting us filing reports on how we do, and they’d get us cards, too.
It’s a well-known fact that anyone without a business card is inconsequential in the economic and social development of America. There is one exception to this rule. There are, in fact, people who are so cool that they transcend cards. I talked to one such person–he’s a maven of marketing for a Silicon Valley ed tech company, I happen to like quite a lot–Learnist.
“Oh, we don’t have cards. We bump phones.” Well, we in education, do not “bump phones.” In many school districts, they’re not even permitted. It’s quite difficult to bump something that’s not allowed.
I decided to design my business cards with some of my favorite inspirational quotes. Rumi, the Buddha, C.S. Lewis, Robert Louis Stevenson… I even let my author friend slip in there for a quote, because he’s getting so deep that people make slideshows of his quotes and tweet about them. I’ll put him in for one. Maybe someday he’ll earn another, but not quite yet. These honors don’t come easy. In the mean time, that slot goes to Vince Lombardi.
I wanted to steal my friend Marianne’s card’s quote, “I work because I love this shit,” which I think is the best business card of all times, excepting the one that orders drinks. I didn’t have the cajones. I save bad words for emergencies. Work is usually not an emergency–chaos at times, but not an emergency.
My partner in crime disagrees. He says that business cards are not about importance at all. Equating them with social status is absurd, he remonstrated. They are about intention. Do we intend to get beyond the classroom? Do we plan to get out there and meet the game changers? Even be one of them? Do we plan to rot in our classrooms or connect and change the world? That, he said, is why we need business cards. To connect and change the world. He’s probably right.
P.S. If you are an innovative educator, or an ed tech entrepreneur who wants to meet educators for the purpose of feedback, collaboration, or sharing of ideas, please consider joining us. Contact me here or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on Twitter at @runningdmc. You can check out what we are up to on the EdUnderground Website.