I’m approaching my 33rd birthday this spring. I remember, soon after graduating college a little over 10 years ago, sitting in a local diner with my mom having a discussion about my future. I was lucky enough to be working in what I had always considered my dream job, the greeting card industry. I was contemplating starting a side hustle, my own line of hand-illustrated stationery and gifts.
My mom compassionately advised, “Ten years from now you will still be a very young woman with a lot ahead of you.” We forget the angst of our younger years.
So what does my life look like ten years after that discussion? I do not live a fast life with excess wealth. I am either wrestling at home with my two young daughters and husband or at work with my staff and advisors. I do not get enough sleep and I have noticed wrinkles setting in around my face. I do not exercise as much as I’d like and I reach for a chocolate snack much more than necessary.
I accept a little nervous twitch of the eye around times like Christmas and birthdays when there do not seem to be enough hours in the day. I try to meet too many expectations I think others have for me, and I forget to make time for reading, creating and just sitting. My house seems to always be unkempt and my desk decorated with paper piles. Drinking coffee is no longer a relaxing method for approaching a new day; I down it like the late night tequila shots of college days and quickly move on to the next cup.
However, with all that, I truly believe I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I have two beautiful healthy daughters, a husband that is a teammate and my favorite person to be around. I have a robust support system of family and friends. My career is creative, exciting and I am constantly learning and improving. Most importantly, I am able to affect others for good in my work.
Ten years later I’ve noticed that what I thought would be so important- success, fame, and achievement, really is not the goal. And haven’t we all heard this before; isn’t this something I should already know?
It takes living a little to realize we are all living very similarly. When I became a mother I became a better leader at work. I had a new understanding of what matters most to the parents on my team. On a daily basis with my family I am working to motivate a stubborn toddler to put on pants or a curious one-year-old not to touch, similar to how I must understand the fundamental motivators for a work group. When I better understand my team I can better influence and lead.
As I enter new phases with my children I feel like I am living the wise parables freely passed around for the last three decades of my life that I previously considered useless sayings. These sayings such as, “long days and short years,” exist and withstand because they are universal.
Celebrations of marriage, births, new beginnings and the heartbreak of death and loss are shared experiences and ways we connect. It is hard to separate professional and personal when faced with the most meaningful times of life. The lines blur and relationships deepen.
To me, this is why in an age where digital is king we still take time to send handwritten cards. Companies are made up of people; businesses grow because of people and relationships. Business relationship tools are pivotal to success.
It is imperative for businesses to reach out personally, not just professionally. No matter the industry there is a need and time to reach out in celebration or sorrow to demonstrate compassion and give value to our shared human experiences. According to The Advisor Coach, "when you send out these cards, they aren't just paper and ink. They are a symbol that you're someone who cares enough to recognize and honor your relationship with them. It evokes a sense of loyalty - a loyalty that pays dividends several times over." Think back to times in your life when you were surprised and impacted by a genuine gesture of care. Most likely, it wasn’t grand in nature, it was simply that someone unexpectedly invested time in your situation.
Greeting cards are one of the most effective business relationship tools because they allow you to appropriately express care, celebration or concern giving you the opportunity to connect. Circling back to summarizing my current phase in life, most likely if you are a parent reading this article, you can identify with the same feelings of abundant joy paired with exhaustion and defeat. If you are not a parent, you most likely can understand the road we all travel in young adulthood chasing what we deem to be success. Perhaps, like me, you’ve found that the simplest things in life, connection with people, are really where we find success.
I’ll end with a call to action – what prospect or client have you failed to connect with and how can you reach out on a personal level? Is there something you could mention in a handwritten note, an encouragement, memory or quote that would cause that individual to pause and recognize that you took the time? Ten years after beginning my professional career, I have learned what’s most important - that working towards and maintaining a happy life requires proactively and continually connecting with people. And I love that my work in corporate greeting cards helps others to connect and build relationships that support their success.