Bimbo Banter

The Power of a Handwritten Note

  • Wildcard
  • May 20, 2016
  • by Merrie Spaeth

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What can regular citizens learn from the office of Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr.? Hint:  it’s not foreign policy. (He’s the man in charge of military operations in the Asia-Pacific Region creating shockwaves with his blunt criticism of China.)


In this digital age, the handwritten note is becoming extinct. It’s time to remember its power and add it back to your leadership team’s strategic initiatives.


A New York Times profile notes that a handwritten note from Hillary Clinton hangs on the admiral’s wall:  “Harry— thanks for traveling the world with me-Hillary.” The admiral probably doesn’t agree with Mrs. Clinton about anything politically, but he displays this proof of their connection. How long did it take to jot this down? Probably seconds, but its impact lasts forever.


When I was Special Assistant to FBI Director William Webster in 1980, headquarters employees had similar notes from former director J. Edgar Hoover, frequently congratulating them on a son who made Eagle Scout or some other noteworthy occasion.


When we plot out an “influence” campaign, we include the handwritten note – either strategically to key players or opportunistically as the occasions arise. The latter means designing a process where you’ll hear about employees, customers or whomever and can jot a similar note for maximum impact.


So, limber up those fingers, order a pack of stationery with your leader’s name and set a goal – maybe two a week. It will pay dividends over time.

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