Ask why. Then ask again. And again. And again.

Posted on by Laura Hamlyn

Here. Let me give you my business card.


It tells you where I work. My title. My email and phone number. And you get a feel for my taste in design. You'll also find out whether I sweat the details.

For something I almost didn't go to the trouble to create, my business card has made a crazy amount of difference in my life. The picture of it, above, received more likes and comments on Facebook than some of my amazing photos of Paris/Bruges/Amsterdam. People who know me and see it say it suits my personality. People who don't know me comment on the "hey," colors and design as if they've never seen anything like it.

This was a small effort on my part. And it made a world of difference.

So why do we let things like business card design slide? Why don't we seize these opportunities to have fun, create and connect?

Compliance vs. asking why

I tend to fight the power. It's not that I don't follow the rules, I just can't easily settle. And really, do any of us truly want to take things at face value? We tend to fight the relevant battles, let the others slide, and move on. Business card design is a battle easily lost.

If you've ever taken a DISC assessment, you know what the "C" stands for. It's compliance, and I scored in the negatives in this category. (Those with a high C score go into the military or a related field.)

It's not that I want to be disruptive. It's that I naturally want to know why before I do anything. (That natural curiosity must translate as being non-compliant to the DISC assessment experts.) So, why share this personal information that could influence my next manager to thing twice before hiring me? To find out why creative opportunities are seized or missed.  

What if we let it slide? Will we regret not having a cool card? Or not having one at all? Why does it matter? What does a business card really say about us anyway? When I became a freelance/contract writer, I realized I didn't have a business card for the first time since grad school. So many of them are uninspiring anyway. What's the point?

The question meaning makers ask is "Why?" Then they ask it again and again until they find out what matters.

So channel your inner four-year-old and ask why with me:

I don't have a business card. Why?

I usually get them when I work for someone else. Why?

Hm. I really never thought of it this way. Why?

Because I'm so used to waiting to be issued one. Now I don't have to take whatever comes to me. I should make my own. Why?

Because, for the first time in my life, I can.

Okay, maybe the conversation didn't go this way, exactly. But the point is, in every way possible, if you want to find out why something really matters, ask why. And keep asking until you get to a point where you make a realization you've never made, or see a path that wan't on your map yesterday.

In every way possible, if you want to find out why something really matters, ask why.

And do you see how you could substitute a product brief for a business card in the above example? If someone gives you a task, or a half-baked marketing plan, start asking why.

I love my card. Why? It makes me laugh. Why? It tells you who I am without trying too hard. (Etc.)

P.S. Scout's honor: This was published way after I wrote my "why" post.

P.P.S. So was this.