Steven LittlefieldAt first glance gratitude and business don’t seem to go together.  If that’s what you think, then you need to listen to this podcast episode.  Even, if you do think they go together, you need to listen to this episode.

Today we’re talking with Steven Littlefield who has just published The Business of Gratitude.  In this book and on our podcast we’ll be talking about how the handwritten note can change your business.

Steven is a highly successful mortgage broker where he found that showing a little kindness, gratitude, and support for those around you can go a long ways.  

Here are some of the things you’ll learn in today’s podcast:

  •  How the handwritten note is a lost art that needs to be re-found.
  • How to make writing handwritten notes easy.
  • When you send handwritten thank-you notes you’ll be amazed at how they get mentioned to others.
  • When you write handwritten notes you are focusing on who you want in your orbit.
  • How gratitude can expand into a calmness that infects all areas of your life.


Narrator:         Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful.

Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.

Josh:                Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. You are at The Sustainable Business.

And today, you’re in for a treat. My friend Steven Littlefield is with us. And Steven has just published a book called The Business of Gratitude.

And you might be asking yourself, “Why would we talk about gratitude on The Sustainable Business podcast?” Well, I will tell you that if you’re not grateful for the good things that happen around you and good things that happen in your business, it’s a lot harder going through the bad things that are going to go along with that. At least, that’s just my opinion anyhow. And I’m sure Steven when we bring him in, which we’ll do in about two seconds, will give us some more information about that. So let’s do that right now.

Hey, Steven. How are you today?

Steven:            Hi, Josh. How are you today?

Josh:                I’m great. It’s a good day to have you on the show. I’ve been looking forward to this. I know that we’ve talked about your book over last year, while you were writing it, and it’s finally out in the world. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about why we should be grateful in business. And what is the Business of Gratitude all about?

Steven:            The Business of Gratitude is focusing on what you have instead of what you’re missing out on. And when you get out and you go out in the world – in the business world, people are so focused on, “I need more. I need that. Oh, they have that.” And they chase the shiny objects. They need the new web system setup. And they need the new computer system. And they forget about the abundance that surrounds them with their clients that they currently have, the relationships that they currently have, and with the abundance of business that’s there.

And my whole idea is two-fold. (1) To help people focus on what they have. And (2) to share their gratitude with those around them, implementing the handwritten thank you note system.

Josh:                Okay. So what is the handwritten thank you note system?

Steven:            Well, when I finished college, I didn’t get to go to medical school. So I had to go out in the business world. And I would go to networking events. And I’m sure all of you have been there. And everyone’s handing out their card. And then I would get home and I’d have this pocket full of cards. And I realized that my card wasn’t in my stack but it was in everybody else’s stack and that I was just like every other card.

So I had to figure out a way to follow a system that I learned which was, if you want to be successful, you have to be in the right place at the right time. So I asked myself a question, “How can I be in more places more often?”

And I went to a seminar with Tom Hopkins. And at the back of his book, at the end of that day, and I’d collected – I don’t know how many real estate agent cards, was just a little blurb of “send a handwritten thank you note”.

Well, I was brand new in the business. I had limited capital. But my company had envelopes and note cards with their logo on it. And I said, “I can afford to do this.” So I sent a card to every single realtor I met at that meeting.

And it was arduous because I’d write the envelope. And then I’d write the card. And then I put it in the envelope. And then I put my card in it. And then I put a stamp. And I mustered through.

I got it done and I got immediate results. I mean, within a week, closed offices, real estate agents who wouldn’t let loan officers in, unless you were part of their team, called me and invited me in for meetings. And I grew my business. And then I figured out that, as I met more people I was going to be writing more thank you notes so I had to build a system.

And so, the system I built is to break it down into simple tasks, one at a time. And the first task is, at the end of every day, address all your envelopes. And when you wake up the next day, it’s like a live to-do list.

So, for instance today, you had me get on 10 minutes early to sign up for the podcast. Well, while I was waiting here, I got three thank you notes out because I had written all my addresses last night of everybody I met yesterday. And I’d happen to go to a group meditation and met 12 – 13 people. And they were just happy to give me their card and oops I didn’t have one. And so, last night, I addressed all my envelopes. And this morning, I’ve already written out five.

And that simplistic system allows you to use that moment of time to finish and accomplish a simple task that’s going to send gratitude out into the marketplace because every one of those people I’ve met, I’m going to say, “Thank you. It was great meeting you at the TM Center at Encinitas and I look forward to continuing that conversation with you.”

And that is the opportunity, when they open that thank you card, it’s only me, them and my business card. There’s not 50 other people around. It’s not a pocket full of business cards. And they’ll make a neural connection of that moment where we met.

Josh:                That’s a great idea. So all you do is after you meet people, you just address the envelopes. And that sort of gives you a to-do list for what you need to be doing as far as writing thank you notes to show gratitude that somebody spent some time with you?

Steven:            Exactly. It is that simple.

Josh:                And in today’s society, we don’t see that happen very often, do we?

Steven:            We don’t. In fact, one of the endorsers of my book, he said the handwritten thank you note is the new disruptive app.

Josh:                And what is the new disruptive app?

Steven:            Well, you know, like Uber was the disruptive app to taxi drivers?

Josh:                Yes.

Steven:            The handwritten thank you note is the disruptive app to e-mail. The disruptive app to text messaging.

Josh:                Really good point. Really good point.

And the challenge is that how do you get people’s addresses easily? I mean, business cards are easy. If I’m talking to you on the phone or you call me up, what’s an easy way to get the address?

Steven:            I found the easiest way is to ask.

Josh:                Okay. That makes sense.

Steven:            If you recall, I did that with you when we were in— I believe we were in Florida. I said, “Hey, you know, I noticed on your website, you don’t have any mailing address.” I said, “Do you have a mailing address?” And you go, “Oh, sure” when we were sitting there at dinner. And I entered it right into my phone at that time because you and I had met two or three times at different events. And I had cyber [inaudible 00:07:28] to see if I can find an address for you. But, I guess, they don’t give those out in the People’s Republic of Vermont.

Josh:                Actually, both my websites, I think, have my address on the home page. They’re pretty easy to find but that may not be there also. I’ll have to go and look because that’s a good point.

You want to make it easy for people to find you when you’re out there. And what you just reminded me is that we really do need to make it easy for us to find physical addresses as well as our cyber addresses. So that’s a good point to think about.

Steven:            It’s fascinating.

So to stay on that line, so say I meet somebody, they either give me an e-mail or they tell me the name of their company. I’ll just call the receptionist and say, “Hey, I met Josh and I was wondering if you could give me his mailing address, I promised to drop him a card in the mail.” And I have never, in 31 years, been denied a mailing address.

Josh:                Yeah. I mean, when you ask people for basic information they always give it to you. Especially when you say, “Look, I promise to do X, Y or Z and I need this to do it.” And the receptionist will always give it to you.

Steven:            And it works at restaurants.

Josh:                Yup.

Steven:            But sometimes, at restaurants, they don’t always give you the address on the receipt. And you meet a good server.

It works everywhere. You meet somebody at an airport and they go, “Oh, I work for blah, blah, blah.”

I was in California and I met a lady that worked for Fidelity National Title, in their South Carolina branch. And she gave me her e-mail and her cell phone number but she didn’t give me an address. And so, I sent her an e-mail and it got kicked back which meant that I typed it in wrong. So I called the company main line, I said, “You know, I met Janet at this event and I was following up with her and her e-mail kicked back because I must’ve entered it wrong. And oh, by the way, do you have a mailing address for her?” They helped me correct her e-mail address. Then they gave me the mailing address to the specific department that she worked in. And I sent her an e-mail. And then, I sent her a card. And we’ve been communicating ever since.

Josh:                That’s very cool.

So tell me something, what should I do if I meet somebody and I’m using your system of showing gratitude when I do meet somebody, but I really don’t like them and I don’t want to really show any gratitude towards them. Do I just not respond or–? What you do with that situation?

Steven:            Well, a friend of ours, Michael Port, has what’s called the red velvet rope policy.

Josh:                Yes.

Steven:            And there are some people we’re meant to serve and some people not so much.

Josh:                Right.

Steven:            And, showing gratitude, you can always find some reason to be grateful. Like, thank you for sharing with me who I don’t want to do business with. That’s probably not a good thank you note to send.

So the power of choice is that if you don’t want to build a deeper relationship, don’t send a thank you card. This isn’t mandatory. This isn’t you’re teacher checking on you. It’s about those 20 people– those two or three that you meet that you actually want to build a deeper relationship.

I teach loan officers. They have to meet 100 real estate agents to distill down to maybe 10 of them that they might do business with, to find one that they’re going to be a marketing partner with. So, in that arena, if they go out to open houses, and broker caravans, and all the different activities and events, my recommendation is, whether they want to meet that person or not is to send the handwritten thank you note because it will create visibility in the marketplace. And then, those ones that they want to develop a deeper relationship, they will add a call to action and then follow up with a phone call to then set an opportunity to go have a cup of coffee or a Jamba Juice and then build it that way. So it’s a very simple system that’s non-threatening.

Josh:                Yeah. So what you’re saying is use a little bit of discernment before you go start trying to build relationships?

Steven:            Yes, because this is a powerful tool. And if you send a handwritten thank you note, 9 times out of 10, you’ll either get asked to Facebook, LinkedIn. They’ll send you an e-mail. They’ll phone call you. They’ll send you a thank you note thanking you for your thank you note. And with those responses, you want to make sure that you’ve chosen, through your red velvet rope policy, the business characteristics, the values, the work ethic, the hobbies, the interests of the people that you actually want to grow into your business.

Josh:                You know, that brings up a point that I talk with people a lot about, Steven. It’s that some businesses will segment their customers on who they want to do business with by demographic information which is industry, size, volume, where they are in the country, what clubs they belong to – things of that nature. But in my experience, it’s the psychographic stuff which is who are they as people which turns out to be much, much more powerful and much, much more valuable. If they’re not the right type of people, we probably don’t want to be working with them because frankly it’s impossible to show gratitude towards them.

Steven:            You couldn’t have said it more clearer.

Josh:                And this whole thing with gratitude is, at least in my opinion, I don’t think we have to be grateful to everybody. We have to be grateful to the right people.

Steven:            Agree.

If I can merge the two things you’re saying, by adding one thing. You see, what you focus on expands. So if you focus on the psychographic people through the handwritten thank you note and developing that deeper relationship, you’re going to expand that group of people.

Josh:                You know, that makes sense because people hang out with people like them. They don’t hang out with people who aren’t like them.

Steven:            Have you ever met somebody that there’s always something wrong? Their car’s always breaking down. They’re always late. They’re mismatched shoes. They go through life attracting what they don’t want.

And then you look on the other side, and you meet that person that their car is always clean. They always show up on time. They’re always dressed well. They’re personable. They’re calm. They have time to talk to you. They have expanded their gratitude and attracted calmness in their life instead of worry and busy.

Whatever you focus on will expand and grow in your business.

Josh:                Yeah, that’s my experience also.

I know that one of your neighbors out there in San Diego named Steve Farber. And he talks about a thing called the Radical Leap and the L in leap stands for love which kind of goes along with gratitude. We don’t use the word gratitude in business nearly enough nor do we use the word love in business nearly enough. And when we do, the world seems to change. Has that been your experience?

Steven:            It expands. So yes, it does change.

And the expansion is just fun because when you focus on who you want to attract in your life, and you implement the handwritten thank you note system, you find that the people that you want to attract have friends that are similar to them. So when you attract that one friend, it brings their friends in too.

And I was reflecting on Joe Girard who is, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the number one salesperson of all time. He sold the most number of cars in a day, a month, a week, a year, a minute. And he distilled it down, is that every single person knows about 250 people that they have connection with. And he found that out because if he went to funeral, they knew to print up about 250 cards for the attendee. If you go to a wedding, the caterers pick about 250 for the bride’s side and 250 for the groom’s side. And he leveraged that knowing that each person he helps is going to talk to 250 people. And that’s the same thing that if you send a thank you note, that’s going to affect that person and their 250 sphere of influence.

Josh:                Yeah. The interesting thing about thank you notes, at least from what I’ve noticed, every time I’ve actually ever gotten a handwritten thank you note, I’ve always told a couple of people that I got it, how impressed I was with it.

Steven:            And as with everything in life.

The challenge of our society though, is if something bad happens, we tell 10 people.

Josh:                Right.

Steven:            If something good happens, we tell one or two.

Josh:                Yup, that’s about right.

Steven:            So we need to send out more thank you notes, so those one or two’s get out to more and more people.

And use, what you said earlier, is be selective. This isn’t a shotgun approach. This is a sniper approach. It’s going out to an event and saying, “Who’s the one person I want to meet here tonight?” I’m not here to meet 400. I’m here to meet one person that fits into my red velvet rope policy, that I align with, that I want to build a deeper relationship. And that’s who I want to send that thank you card to.

Josh:                That makes sense.

So, Steven, we’re almost out of time. Are there other things in your book that will be useful for the listeners to hear about? What would that be?

Steven:            What to say inside the thank you card.

Josh:                Okay. So what should you say?

Steven:            Say, thank you and explain where you met them. “Thank you. It was a pleasure meeting you at Heroic Public Speaking in Florida. I really enjoyed..” And then frame what you talked about. “I enjoyed our dinner together. I enjoyed our conversation about… I look forward to keeping in touch with you. Please feel free to reach out to me so that we can continue this conversation.” Tie in, in that very short minute of time, what you accomplished and what stood out at that meeting. And that’s what’s going to create a greater impact of the neural pathway that will help deepen that relationship.

Josh:                Great advice.

Steven, unfortunately, we are out of time. And I am sure that there are people who are listening who would love to buy your book and learn more about you, so where would they go to do both of those?

Steven:  , The Business of Gratitude, Steven A. Littlefield. And my e-mail address is

Josh:                Okay. So I’m assuming that if somebody wanted to e-mail you, you’d be happy to have a conversation about how gratitude to be integrated in their business and their life. Am I correct in that?

Steven:            Absolutely.

Josh:                Cool. I thought that would be the truth.

And for everybody, I also have an offer for you. I have a 1-hour audio CD I’ve put together on “Why your business is not going to get you to retirement by itself and what you can do to fix that problem”.

And if you’re interested in learning more about it, all you have to do is take out your smart phone. And if you’re driving, please don’t do this while you’re driving, you can do it afterwards. It’s pretty easy to remember. Just text the word RETIRE1 and that’s the number 1— that’s RETIRE1 to 44222. You’re going to get a link. Click on it. It’ll take you to a form where you’ll give us your name and your mailing address. And we’re going to mail you a physical copy of this audio CD which you can listen to in your car, or while you’re working out, or at home. It’s about 52 minutes long. And I guarantee you’re going to learn some stuff that you didn’t know and you’re going to learn some stuff that’s going to be valuable for you, to help you get through retirement on your terms.

So this is Josh Patrick. You’ve been at The Sustainable Business. Thanks a lot for hanging out with us today. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Narrator:         You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802‑846‑1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at, or you can send Josh an e-mail at

Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.

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