September 13, 2022
Today, I’ve chosen to write about business cards. Specifically, business cards in Hollywood. It might seem like a boring topic considering the 2022 Emmys were broadcast last night. I watched the show, and it’s best I write about business cards.
I got fired for handing out a business card. It was 2013, I’d been in L.A. for about a year, and I had yet to learn about the “thing” this town has with business cards. First, if you’re a nobody like I was, handing a business card to a studio executive is automatic grounds for termination. You see, they are the “successful” people. They want nothing to do with the muckedity-mucks like me trying to “break in.” Speak only when spoken do, don’t make eye contact, and for god sakes, don’t screw up their lunch orders. You could get the death penalty!
I wrote about this incident in my memoir class this week, and since then, there’s been a strange serendipity about business cards. In the story, I wrote that being from the East Coast, it was normal to hand out business cards. At the end of a business meeting (which this was), everyone would literally pull out a stack of business cards and deal one to each person sitting around the table.
Not so in L.A. Everyone will tell you to network, meet people and to use these contacts to launch your career. But, what they really mean is, do all that with someone else. Not them.
Successful people are too cool for business cards. You think Steven Spielberg hands out business cards? Or, George Clooney? I bet their dog walkers don’t even hand out business cards. These people are to be treated like gods. They exist on a different realm and are to be worshiped from afar. If you want to attain their lofty status, you will not make yourself available under any circumstances.
Writers especially, never hand out business cards. See, writers have created a whole universe around business cards. If you’re famous, people will know people who will know how to reach you. You don’t need no stinkin’ card to remind people of your name, or your email. (Avoid AOL at all costs! It’s the kiss of death. Unless you’re famous.)
Plus, giving people a card means you want people to contact you. You don’t want that. You’re famous! The only people who don’t already know how to contact you are undesirables. A business card in the hands of a stalker is the same as giving a lunatic a loaded gun!
So, if you aspire to get staffed on a show, or sell your feature, for the sake of all that is holy, burn your business cards NOW!
I started to think this might be a generational thing. With smartphones, texting, etc., it’s easier just to capture someone’s deets in your contacts than try not to lose a business card before you have a chance to enter the data. But, tonight was one of those life-affirming moments that validates I am neither old or crazy.
A 20-something writer who just graduated from a midwest university apologized for not having a business card handy. This kid must have just gotten off the bus. I warned him, if you want a career as a writer, never carry business cards. People will think you’re a hack. Then, I proceeded to hand him my business card.