Cards Against Insanity
How We Turned a List of Activities on Scrap Bits of Paper Into a Cool Little Product
Naishadh Gadani is the founder of Your Career Down Under, a career coaching service supporting both new and established migrants in Australia. He has created three unique opportunities and initiatives for job seekers – Australia’s Got Fresh Talent, Career Care Package, and Cards Against Insanity. He was the VIC recipient (Individual) of the 2021 CDAA Division Awards for Excellence in Practice.
This is the story of building a product. This is the story of Cards Against Insanity. Fasten your seatbelts. Here we go!
As part of my earlier coaching program, I had listed 52 activities a job-seeker could do to go beyond sending 100 applications to find a job. They compelled my clients to reframe their job-search experience, gave them greater control over their journey, and produced results – more meetings, more leads, more interviews, and more GREAT jobs.
Fast forward a couple of years and I was using a card game by Richard Knowdell. Every time I used those cards with a client, it really cracked open our discussions about what they were genuinely interested in. There was something about holding those cards that I thoroughly enjoyed. I could arrange them how I wanted, take a picture for future reference, and rearrange them.
Then in 2020, COVID changed the world. We were in India and due to the national lockdown, we could not travel back to Australia. With a lot of time on my hands, apart from eating a lot and hosting a daily LinkedIn Live show, I started to expand the 52 activities. However, I wasn't sure how to present them - do I do cards, a book, or something else?
I came back to Melbourne in June 2020 and got straight into job hunting. Luckily, the next month I found a job through networking with the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY). For Christmas, the CMY team gifted me a card box from the School of Life called Career Crisis. The penny dropped!
I called my colleague Karalyn Brown and said, “I think I’ve got an idea about the activities. Let’s turn it into a card box.” She said, “Great! Now get to work.” But one of my other strengths is procrastination and it really took me over.
It was on a call with Karalyn in May last year that she asked, “Naish, what are we doing about the cards?” We went to the Chadstone shopping centre and I saw the School of Life pop-up store where I picked up another card box – Confidence. This was the boost I needed. I developed the card content over a weekend and sent it to Karalyn. She gave those words a life, they were inspiring, they compelled you to act.
The next phase was to build a complete product so I put my engineering hat on. We had to figure out:
- The size of the cards
- The packaging
- Card design
- Product name
- Sourcing suppliers.
The list goes on.
The first challenge we faced was, “where are we going to print these cards.” In our heads, we had already worked out a pricing point. I know, I know. Rookie error. We didn’t anticipate making a lot of money, but we wanted to make enough so the whole process was worthwhile and to prove to ourselves that we could do it.
I reached out to people I knew in Melbourne and found a printer in ten minutes! That’s the power of networking! I explained our requirements, sent some pictures of cards we liked (like the School of Life), and waited for the costs. But it was going to cost around $25 per set with no packaging box.
After doing some research, we realised finding packaging boxes was going to be harder than we thought. During a collaboration session, Karalyn told me about some cards she received packaged in a tin box. The penny dropped again!
I thought aluminum tix boxes was an AWESOME idea, enhancing the whole product look. But the ones available in Australia were around $5 to $6 a piece, going beyond our budget. Being Indian, I couldn't resist the urge to search for suppliers in India and Bingo! I found a box that was perfect. We also decided to get the printing done in India.
With the content finalised, the next step was to design the cards. Being an amateur doodler, I proposed that I would design the cards. But I didn't recognise the mammoth effort required. These are some of the initial sketches:
Realising this would delay the product, I turned to a trusted designer who had worked with me previously. He immediately understood the concept and got to work. We loved the images, they were quirky, distinct, and striking.
In designing the cards, the most unique feature we added was the QR codes. We wanted to have some interactivity, so we invested in a yearly subscription service where the QR code design would not change but the information scanned could be altered. To add more quirk, we also got our caricatures done.
The name of the cards – Cards Against Insanity is the genius of Karalyn. She had run the name Catalyst by her good (and honest) friend James who told her not only would that be the most boring name in history, but most people do not know what Catalyst means.
James suggested we should take inspiration from the podcast he was listening to “Game of Drones” to come up with something that was funny and would invoke curiosity. After much scribbling and searching for card games, Karalyn came up with Cards Against Insanity as a nod to Cards Against Humanity.
Karalyn had visions of a bright yellow box with black and white writing, standing out on a bookshelf in Dymocks beckoning a frustrated job seeker (or their parent or partner) to pick it up. After 10 design iterations, changes, and long discussions about what to include and what not, we zeroed in on the content and design.
It was mid-July by then and we were getting close to it being a reality, so we decided on a launch date in August. But we faced some road blocks. The printer produced the first prototype of the cards. It looked great online but due to the curved edges, some of the text was cut off. Karalyn went back to the content to weave her magic, making it more concise.
Soon after, the printer produced the first set of cards and it turned out exactly how we imagined. We were simply overjoyed. They arrived just in time for the August launch. Here’s the LinkedIn Live where we showed Cards Against Insanity for the first time.
We have sold enough to encourage us that with the right marketing we are on to a great thing. The initial response from people has been: creative, very useful to job-seekers, love them, and more.
So, this is the story of how we turned a list of activities on scrap bits of paper, into a cool little product. We believe anyone can make their ideas a reality!