While rummaging around a flea market, I stumbled upon a basket of calling cards from the 1800’s. Apparently, most people in high society had their own printed cards that they could leave behind when they came calling as visitors. They were the personal equivalent of business cards and had a clearly personal focus. Cards were imprinted with messages such as: With love’s greetings, Far from thee be every care, All happiness to you and Forget me not. Both men and women used them.

What struck me about these cards was how beautiful they are. This was the 1800s and yet they are full-color, embossed, dimensional, with scalloped edges, die cuts or in miniature envelopes. The name is printed in elegant script behind the images. If you were to attempt to buy these today they would be prohibitively expensive.

Email and messaging apps provide wonderful efficiency and connect us with many that we would never have occasion to deliver one of these gorgeous cards in person but it makes it much more difficult for the personality of the sender to shine through. Think about what you use as your calling card – whether that be a business card, email signature, profile photos or username – and infuse it with some of the classiness and grace that was exchanged before the turn of the century.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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