2 Paths to Personal Connection: Handwritten Note vs One-to-One Video

Last Updated October 8th, 2017

The next time you think you don’t have enough time to connect with people one-on-one, it may be worth it for you to read up on Sheldon Yellen and reconsider what you know about connecting … and about time.

Yellen, the CEO of BELFOR Holdings, Inc., handwrites a birthday card for every single employee at his company. What does this mean, exactly? This means every year, he writes 7,400 birthday cards – averaging out to roughly 20 birthday cards a day. Yellen has been doing this since 1985, so when it comes to making personal connections, Yellen certainly knows what he’s doing. (Read more about his story by clicking here.)

“When leaders forget about the human element, they’re holding back their companies and limiting the success of others,” says Yellen about this commitment.


While we don’t personally know Yellen, we do know people like him … including BombBomb customer Brad Devries!

The President and CEO of HUFF Realty, Semonin Realtors, Rector-Hayden Realtors, and WR Realtors, Brad has been a BombBomb customer for more than three years – since May, 2014. And in that time, he’s recorded 4,185 videos and sent 4,183 emails. The nearly equivalent number of these two stats suggests that almost every single video Brad has recorded has been used exclusively for one-to-one communication – specifically for his 1,300 team members.

Here, Brad shares when and why he uses one-to-one video email to make his life and his communication with others easier, more efficient, and more fulfilling.

Then, we consider the choice between handwritten note and the one-to-one video messages.


The How and Why of One-To-One Video for Personal Connection

We asked Brad to share some thoughts on his commitment to one-to-one video and one-to-many video to build personal connection and company culture. Here’s what he told us …


Happy birthdays, thank you, milestone celebrations, company-wide announcements, and even deaths in the family – Brad proves there are numerous opportunities to reach out to people within your business.

The enthusiasm and gratitude in the positive messages. The empathy and sincerity in the condolence messages. When you send a one-to-one video, it’s almost as if you’re there in person. In fact, it’s the next best thing.

So we have handwritten notes versus videos. Is there really a better way to connect with others? That’s pretty subjective, but there are quite a few ways how a video is very similar to, or even better than, a handwritten note.


The Handwritten Note vs One-To-One Video


When you handwrite a note, people can see much more than just words. They see the curves of the letters – your unique style of writing. And in some cases, they see the ink smears, the scribble where you messed up, or the folds in the paper. There’s so much more to a handwritten note than just words. It’s an expression of personality and an act of gratitude. Go ahead and take a moment to thank Mom for those handwritten sticky notes you found in your bagged lunches during school – we’ll wait.

Videos offer similar qualities and, in some cases, even more. When you send someone a video, they can see your facial expressions, your body language, your smile, and they hear your voice, your laugh, your background noise. It’s a very raw, authentic moment captured in video made just for someone else that lets your personality shine through. It’s completely and uniquely you.



Nowadays, it can be hard to actually confirm that a handwritten note to you was legitimately handwritten. With the abundance of supercharged and robotic handwriting services now on the market (yes, these exist), purchased with the intention of using them to make people feel as if the sender actually took time out of their day to write a note … well, this is the real reason we don’t trust anyone. This makes the betrayal of oatmeal raisin cookies looking like chocolate chip cookies seem juvenile.

When someone sends you a video, that video was made just for you. That person took a moment out of their day and decided that they wanted you to see their face as they were communicating with you, which is a big deal. Especially when they’re not in person to convey their thoughts. Especially when it’s coming from the C Suite. Especially because time is an increasingly valuable asset.

In that moment, that person gave you their undivided and absolute attention. As Brad says, it allows him to “look into their eyes and tell them how much I appreciate them.”



Most people connect most effectively face to face, because it gives you the best sense of another human being. Of course, you can see their face and their body movements, but just their general presence also has an effect. This all works together to affect the way you interpret their message. That wavelength you share, that vibe, that humanistic quality – that’s the filling between the Oreos, my friends.

Though the handwritten note has a bit of new-found charm in the digital age, it delivers a feeling more than it delivers a feeling and a true moment of human connection.

Video is a way for you to be there in person when you can’t be there in person. It’s a way to add your presence to the space of your connection, helping them to feel as if you were physically there. Videos bring back a human fulfillment that can sometimes be forgotten through text, email, voicemail. In a faceless environment, videos bring people to life – on both the sending and receiving ends!


So when it seems as if you don’t have enough time to connect with someone else, whether it be an employee, a friend, a coworker, just think about Brad and his 4,185 videos (and counting!). When you take an empathetic step back and think about how you’d like someone else to connect with you, you may find that seeing their face and hearing their voice sure beats the heck out of any other alternative.

Though Brad’s almost certainly sent stacks of handwritten notes, he says:

“If I could only keep one personal tool to be able to reach out to everybody, it would be BombBomb.”


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Brad sent these one-to-one videos and several more in an hour on a recent afternoon.


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We should all find time for gratitude and celebration of other people. And they’ll be happy to see you!



Ethan Beute

Ethan Beute | About The Author

Chief Evangelist at BombBomb, co-author of Rehumanize Your Business, and host of The Customer Experience Podcast, Ethan collects and tells stories of clearer communication, human connection, and higher conversion with simple, personal videos. BA: University of Michigan. MBA: University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Fresh air & clean water.