Letters, cards and notes can go a long way

I have always been an advocate for sending handwritten notes and—when that can’t quite work out—writing personal messages to friends, clients, collaborators and project partners whenever possible. As was the case for many, my grandmother was big on writing cards in response to everything. While I spent my 20s much more disorganized than she, I—though admittedly imperfectly—somehow held onto and developed that habit. While I’ve been guilty of letting things like disorganization and procrastination get in the way of doing so, I am getting better as the years roll on.


Ari Weinzweig, Co-Owner of Zingerman’s

This is top of mind because, after buying a copy of his book on personal management, I received a short but thoughtful email from Ari Weinzweig, Co-Owner of Zingerman’s. Being an email it wasn’t handwritten, of course, but it stood right out. It was direct, interesting, and displayed an interest in the work I am doing. It may very well have been a form email, but it was crafted in such a way that this was definitely not evident; it illustrated some knowledge of who I am what I am up to. [Note: Ari has reached out to say the email was authentic!] More importantly, it instigated a short exchange about all of the various people we mutually know (locally, filmmaker David Meikeljohn and Tandem Coffee Co-Owner Kathleen Pratt). We agreed to chat further for a future post.

I’d already have advocated for buying Ari’s guides on organizational and personal management—they’re refreshing takes on the topic, especially for people who are cynical about the idea of reading “business” books. They’re fun, not daunting, and about much more than “business,” so to speak. Moved by his book on organizational management, I bought his book on personal management, which led to the aforementioned exchange. I feel even more compelled, feeling from that exchange that I know him all the more beyond having read the books, to point you in their direction. It is also worth considering that it is probably because Ari is the type of person to reach out in this way that his books are so good and resonate as they do in the first place.

As others have pointed out in the short time I’ve been reflecting on this particular topic, sales and business development is as much about the construction of relationships as it is about anything else. I bought a bag from the Jack Spade store in Boston 9 years ago and the woman who sold it wrote me a handwritten thank you note. We traded a few messages back and forth and I’ll never forget that exchange and, consequently, that positive association binds me to that brand nearly a decade later. Conversely, there are campaigns or causes I’ve given time, insight and money to and never heard back from them again. While I don’t expect anything tangible in return, it can sting to feel unrecognized or unappreciated even in the smallest of ways. These seemingly insignificant actions, it turns out, can go a significantly long way.


Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.