The consulting side of my life (Foresight Plus) is a combination of enough left brain mixed with a lot of right brain thinking. It’s about bringing creativity, storytelling and leverage to the marketing side of any business. So, my cards for Foresight Plus had to have a mix of all of them. A pack of 100 cards comes with 100 mini sagas (stories in exactly 50 words). Each story is fictional at the same time comes with a life or business lesson. I call these ThinkCards – business cards that make you think.
Recently, Prashanti Ganesh from The New Indian Express interviewed me for her article on innovative business cards. She quoted a few things from the interview but the entire interview is below.
PG: Why did you think having a business card that stood out was important?
RS: To be honest, this experiment was mostly accidental. I was working with my designer friend Aaina Sharma to create two sets of playing cards called ThinkDecks (to be launched soon.) Every ThinkDeck had 52 mini sagas. When the designs for ThinkDecks were completed, I really liked them and started wondering where else I could use these mini sagas. As luck would have it, right at the same time, I was running out of business cards. I put two and two together ThinkCards were created. To my surprise, people loved these cards and rest you already know.
That’s the real story.
PG: How and why did you come up with the idea of the mini sagas?
RS: A few years ago, I observed that people buy books but they really don’t read them. I mean they read one or two chapters and move on to the next book. Soon, they have a pile of unread books on their night stand but they will continue to buy books.
I started looking for ways to spread ideas in a world where A.D.D. is the fashion. Call it serendipity as I was reading a book called “A Whole New Mind” by Dan Pink at the same time. In this book, Dan talks about mini sagas – stories in exactly 50 words. I fell in love with the format right away. I decided to quickly take advantage of the format and write fictional stories but with business lessons embedded in each one of them. I have written 123 mini sagas in the last six years. You can see most of them here:
PG: What do these stories tell and how have people responded to them? What do you want and expect people to take away from these cards?
RS: Every story has a business lesson embedded within it. Long time readers of my blog have seen one or more of these mini sagas as I have been writing them for years. Mini saga section has been the most visited section on my blog for a long time so I am guessing readers like them.
Now, what do I want people to do by reading mini sagas? I am hoping that they will read, reflect and think about the message embedded in the story. Hopefully, one or two mini sagas will strike a chord with them in a profound way.
PG: Are they good conversation starters?
RS: Yes, they are. I get asked a LOT of questions about the cards and then a conversation ensues about other things.
PG: What is the one big advantage of having a “different” business card?
RS: These cards are social objects. Like you rightly identified, they are conversation starters. A VERY different card will also create a clear “pattern interrupt” because that kind of card is not what the other person is expecting especially after I spoke about a serious topic. I have found that time and again, people drop their guards and start engaging in a conversation – first, about the cards and then about everything else. In other words, the ThinkCard breaks the ice more easily.
In the long-term, I hope that the recipients of the card will take a few seconds to read the story behind the card, stop and reflect on the message for a moment. That would make it all worth it.
PG: Who do you think should put an effort into creating such cards?
RS: Anyone whose job involves some kind of creativity should definitely spend some time and effort to bring that aspect to the forefront whenever and wherever possible. With that in the background, business cards become one more place where they can bring that forth.
To be clear, I am just not talking about artists and painters – that is where creativity is at play directly. There are dozens of other professions where creativity is not at the forefront but is a definite part of their jobs.
PG: Do you think the sagas reflect your personality?
RS: I hope they do. Be it on my blog or elsewhere, I strive to de-mystify seemingly complex things and publishing it.
Where I consult with companies, I bring creative approaches to work and assets like ThinkBooks (http://www.gothinkbook.com), ThinkDecks and ThinkCards demonstrate the kind of creativity I bring right out of the gate.
For the curious, I have explained how I write a mini saga here:
PG: Any memorable instances/ stories to do with the cards?
I have had these cards for only a three months. But I have had many memorable stories in this short period. A few months ago, I was speaking at a conference on the topic of personal branding, there were around 80 people or so in the audience. At the end, several of them came to see me and I started giving away my cards. I must have given away close to 100 cards as many people took 2 or 3 cards each. There was one girl who was searching for a good card for a long time and keeping all the greenish cards towards one side. Since she was blocking others, I asked her whether she would like to keep all the green cards. She looked at me with disbelief for a moment but then picked up about 14 cards, smiled and said, “Thanks” and walked away. I couldn’t resist smiling myself.
PG: Also, I heard you handle the business cards like a deck of playing cards. Does it make you feel theatric and like a magician?
RS:I never thought of it that way. I try to give people an option to choose a card that strikes their fancy. Handling the business cards like a deck of playing cards is the easiest way to do it.
Photo Courtesy for the main photo: Nambirajan Vanamamalai