I was finishing up a discussion at a nearby café the other day. Out of habit, I pulled out my notebook planner and fountain pen to take notes. He took a look, smiled, and then said, “We have tablets and smartphones to do that now…”
“There’s An App For That…”
Welcome to the 21st century, where we have an app for almost anything… That’s right, in this modern day and age, electronic gadgets has not only dominated toys, but tools too. We have electronic gadgets for everything today. But is it really showing the advancement in humanity?… Or simply that we’re too attached to our e-toys?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the advancement in science and technology. If these modern gadgets can make living our lives more efficient, then I’m all for it. Except that sometimes, not all modern inventions are actually helpful at best. At worst?… Well, how about being tied down to single product or service monopoly?
Like I said, there’s an e-version of almost anything that you’re accustomed to in our modern lifestyle. Need a take a note of something? There’s a note taking app in your tablets and smartphones. Need a pen to write something down? There are styli (or is it styluses?) for you to write onto your tablets with. Want to show off your Copperplate or Spencerian calligraphy techniques? Well, at the time of writing, Apple Pen supports multi-angle and multi-pressure “writing” on the iPad Pro.
But what if you want to leave somebody a note?… You can’t simply tear out a page from your tablet, right? And besides, you’re gonna need a real pen, with real ink, to write on the piece of paper. Your stylus isn’t going to leave any visible mark…
Tablets Vs. Paper Notebooks?… Not Everything Modern Is Necessarily Better Than Its Traditional Counterpart
Just because something is more modern and high-tech doesn’t make it “better” than its traditional counterpart. Take the humble paper for instance. You write on it, to convey a message. You paste a Post-It-Note on the fridge to to remind your husband that you left dinner inside for him later that night. Or even write a romantic love letter to your girlfriend back home just how much you miss her while away. And more importantly, you write Grandma a Christmas card to tell her just how much you miss her.
Of course, you can always type it out on a word processor, then print it out on your laser printer. You can then proceed to slap that piece of paper on the fridge, or fold it and put it into an envelope to send out. Heck, you might as well just send Grandma an email and be done with it. But with that goes all the unique personal touch too. There’s no difference between writing your girlfriend a real love letter that comes straight from your heart, and picking up a Hallmark greeting card for her.
You see, your personal touch shows just how much you’ve invested emotionally in your recipient.
So What Has Emotional Investment Got To Do With A Business Centric Blog Like This?
Plenty!… Just as how you’re invested in the people close to you, you’re also invested in the people that you work with. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working with colleagues that you face everyday, or clients that you meet occasionally. Putting your personal touch into the daily communications with them conveys that they’re important to you. Even more so when meeting a potential client for the first time. As the saying goes, there’s no second chance to a first impression.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that you should revert to the old postal service for all of your communications. Go right ahead and email all of your generic documents, like invoices, proposals, quotations, etc. But when it comes to personal messages, nothing beats a handwritten note. Getting a personal handwritten congratulatory message from your boss means so much more than having your mugshot displayed on the “Best Employee Of The Month” poster for the whole office to see.
All These Boils Down To A Brand… Your Personal Brand…
If you’re an avid follow of this blog, you’d have noticed that I stress a lot on developing a positive association to your identity. Regardless whether a corporate identity, or a personal identity. And this publicly projected identity is your brand. If you’re representing a corporate identity, then it’s a corporate brand we’re talking about. But if it’s your own personal identity, then it’s your personal brand. And believe me, a positive personal brand is much more important than anything else. It’s a not a question of what you know, or how much you know. It’s more of a question of what others think you know, and how much they think you know.
So do you want others to see you as an obedient follower of the system with no personal opinion of your own? Or would you prefer others to see you as a creative person, an intelligent being that can solve problems? Likewise, would you prefer others to see you typing down your notes on a virtual keyboard of a tablet, just like everybody else? Or would you take the opportunity to break out your attractive looking (and possibly expensive) fountain pen?… Who knows, the fountain pen itself could even branch off a conversation on the side too. Fountain pens are known to be conversation starters on its own.
And For The Record, No, I’m Not Anti-Technology
Yes, I do admit that modern technology has made it very easy for us humans to do our work more efficiently. And yes, I do support the use of computers, tablets, and smartphones in the realm of business too. It makes perfect sense to be efficient in a highly competitive business world. But to seen as a common man? Similar to the rest of the others out there, totting tablets as their primary work tools? Nothing to make your identity stand out?… That’s not very helpful in an environment where you’d want to be noticed.
So do I use personally use computers, tablets and smartphones?… Of course I do. I just don’t display them out prominently to suggest a “modern high-tech man” image. Whenever I go out to meet people, especially new people, I bring out my leather pen pouch, and my trusty notebook instead… The paper-wad kind…