What Business Card Design Has to Do With Making Your Life Better

car_business_cardHow many business cards have you collected over the years? A handful? A hundred? Enough to wallpaper the bathrooms of every house on your block? Even if you’re not involved in “Business,” chances are you’ve received a number of business cards over the years, from the auto mechanic to your neighbor who sells Mary Kay.

Most business cards are, frankly, forgettable.

Why? Because they all look the same. They blend in.

You see, when business cards are born, the first thing their creators likely consider is, “What do business cards look like?” Of course, this question is asked and answered on a subconscious level. It doesn’t have be voiced or heavily belabored because everyone already knows what a business card looks like. It’s a 3.5″ x 2″ paper rectangle with somebody’s name, place of employment, and contact information printed on it. The designer’s job is to make it “stand out” by cleverly mixing up the paper stock, colors, graphics, and fonts.

fun_business_cardsBut what is a business card, really? Isn’t it just a tangible object that you can give to a prospective customer so they (or their friend) can contact you if they need what you (or your company) sells? Obviously, the more memorable this object is, the better, as making a lasting impression is always better than being instantly forgotten.

You’ll notice that nowhere in the above definition is any mention of shape, size, or type of material. The common conventions listed above — it must be 3.5″ x 2″ — are rules that don’t exist.

If a child were tasked with the job of designing a business card, the results would be much different. (Paper is too flat — let’s make it out of LEGOs!) Kids aren’t tied down by what a business card is supposed to look like, so they have a greater chance of breaking the “rules” and coming up with something truly remarkable and — gasp! — more effective. The images accompanying this post are all business “cards” designed by people with a very childlike mindset. (See more here.)

If you don’t happen to be a graphic designer, you might be thinking to yourself, “This is all well and good, Jason, but what does this have to do with ME?”


Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a recent graduate looking for a job, a project manager, or a retired accountant, you are living by a set of rules that don’t exist. But don’t feel bad, because it’s normal. You operate much of your life on auto-pilot. Normally, this is a good thing, as it makes things more efficient. You don’t have to waste time every day wondering, “How do I get to work?”

But one disadvantage is that you lack a beginner’s mind. Like a business card designer, you are subconsciously operating with a stock answer to the question, “What is this supposed to look like?”

What is my daily routine supposed to look like?
What is my resumé supposed to look like?
What is our conference room supposed to look like?
What are my retirement years supposed to look like?

If I asked you a similar question about an aspect of your life, you’d probably have a certain set of conditions — or rules — from which you’d automatically begin. From there, like a designer adjusting fonts and colors, you make certain adjustments based on your own preferences, priorities and passion. Perhaps you’d batch your errands, print your resume on fancier paper, paint the conference room walls, or spend a little more time volunteering in your down time.

The tweaks and adjustments are fine, but my challenge to you is: what if you took a step back and blew up your answer to the first question? What if you blew up the rules that don’t exist?

Where is it written that a mother’s job is to endlessly chauffeur her kids to practices, games, and recitals every day of the week?

Why do we assume that resumés need to be printed on paper and be formatted according to common conventions?

It it always necessary for conference rooms to look so similar? Do they even need to be on-site, or even inside?

Who ever said that retirement can’t be used to launch an even more ambitious, passion-filled project that makes a bigger difference than anything you ever did while you were “working?”

Here’s the deal. You have a lot more control of you life than you probably realize. Your life can be less stressful, more fulfilling, more productive and more fun…today. Believe me or not, but it’s true. The trick is to spend some time questioning your assumptions.

Right now, at this moment, ask yourself this question:

What is my life supposed to look like?

Now let me ask you:

Really? Says who?

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  1. Brilliant post.

  2. I used to work at a printing company, and they had a bunch of business card samples. One of my favorite samples was for someone from an envelope company. The card was shiny gold, and it was a business-card-sized envelope.

  3. Victor says:

    Well, I would still prefer to carry a “snazzy” card in my wallet over a balloon, figurine, clothespin or playing chip. For example, this weekend I had a conversation with someone who’s e-mail address was bouncing back to me, so I pulled out my card, tucked away in my billfold (try doing that with the above), and said e-mail me. I’m willing to share my Alpha Omega design.

    • To each his own, Victor. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to have business cards printed in a traditional format. I have a fairly “normal” business card myself, which works well for us. My point with this post is just to challenge ourselves to step back to examine the various “norms” in our life to be sure that we’re living on purpose and not just mindlessly going along with the crowd.

  4. Brilliant has been said – I’ll say it again Magnificent! And I laughed about the cards! I have left over cards in boxes from all the things I’ve done. Takes up a good sized cabinet, lol! Jack of all trades, master of none my dad would have said! It’s ok. I’ve had a rollicking good time. I could never have imagined I’d do half the things I’ve done in my 60 plus years. There is something to be said for being open to the possibilities, isn’t there? It’s not limiting.

    Enjoyed this immensely! Keep up the great writing!

    • Thanks for the nice comment, Suzen. Funny how often the “jack of all trades” thing is seen as a detriment. My brother has gotten that label many times. He recently started his own business and commented that this is the first time in his life that he feels like being a “jack of all trades” is finally a strength. He’s been able to handle most of the aspects of his business very well, without having to hire things out, which has allowed him to save a lot of money and make a profit sooner rather than later.

      I think we all have a role to play here on Earth. Some of us were built to be really good at one thing, other were meant to have skills in many different things. I adds a spice to life, methinks.

  5. Not really a fan of these sorts of posts that tell me how, obviously, I’m living my life all wrong. They’re presumptuous and condescending.

    Sorry, I’ll return you to your chorus of “wow, awesome!” comments now.

    • Sorry if I came across as presumptuous or condescending, Tyler. Just trying to give people some food for thought. But thanks for stopping by and sharing your two cents.

  6. Oh wow…this is such a super idea! I was just about to give my cards for printing..but am going to hold it off to design something more cool like the suggestions here.
    I love how youre making us question our own assumptions. We have gotta break out of the mold of “supposedly” and start by going with what our heart tells us to do. Awaken the inner child :)
    Love your writing style!!!
    Lots of love

    • Thanks a lot Zeenat! I’m happy to hear you got the spirit of what I was trying to say and were challenged by it. I know it’s something I need to remind myself about A LOT. Thanks for stopping by!


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