Watch it and share it! C’mon, you know you want to!
Many times I’ve looked down, hours after a conference or first-day meet-and-greet, and noticed that I was still wearing a nametag. I’ve always looked up right away, pretending that I forgot to take it off.
I love nametags, and not only because I’m really bad at remembering names and faces. I love that they invite everyone around to initiate conversation, acting as a green flag saying “come over, I want to talk to you!” They say “you don’t even need to ask for my name. Here it is. We are, in some sense, already friends.”
A few times I sat on the subway, wondering what the scene would look like if everyone were wearing a nametag. Nicer. Friendlier. “This is something I should propose to the mayor”, I thought…or maybe some large bank or other group. Someone ought to do it, that’s for sure.
And nobody did. And I didn’t meet the mayor.
So (and you’ve probably guessed this part) I realized that we didn’t need the mayor. We didn’t need permission. We can start a grassroots movement to put nametags on any New Yorker who wants one. A few months ago I mentioned the idea to five of my closest friends: Alejandro, Pete, Dina, Tim, and Julia, who all got really excited.
In our first meeting, a few principles were established. We’re not nametag day, we’re just organizing one part of it. It doesn’t start and end with our little group; it’s an idea that we are letting out into the world. We are radically participatory and welcome anyone and everyone to join in. Our mission is just handing out nametags, not selling anything or throwing other events (but we welcome others to do so!) And we want to see New Yorkers talk to each other more, engage, and share ideas and experiences — not just for one day, but every day.
We did a test run a few weeks ago, shot the video you see above, and are now looking for a sponsor. And just like that, an idea is on track to being a real thing!
What has been so much fun about the idea is that it gets people excited. People get it, and if they don’t, they get it after watching the video. It’s easy, at least in concept. It makes people receiving and giving the nametags happy. It’s fun. It changes the world around us for the better. The offers for help have been mindblowing for something that only had its kickoff event two weeks ago.
I don’t know where this is going or how big or small it will be. Whether we are sponsored or not, on June 1 the six of us are going to hand out nametags. If we have enough of your help, we’ll set up 50 (or more) distribution stations and give away 300,000 (or more) nametags to anyone who wants them. Maybe people will throw nametag parties that night. Maybe those in other cities will follow suit. Or maybe it will just be the six of us, handing out nametags and having the time of our lives.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get involved on our core team or have other ideas for us.
And if you want to find me it won’t be too hard. I’ll be the guy wearing the nametag on June 2.