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  • Writer's pictureThe Resultants

Client Spotlight: An Interview With David Patterson, President of LetterStream, Inc.

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

At The Resultants, we’re not just Business Advisors — we are business owners, both past and present. As such, when we partner with clients, we bring a vast array of experience to the table. And our clients trust us to help them to not only grow their business, but also to guide them through the challenges of ownership.


David Patterson, President of LetterStream Inc., knows this well. He’ll be the first to tell you of the immense value he’s gained from working with our Senior Business Advisor, Steve Wilcox. We recently sat down with David to discuss the challenges of growth, the benefits of mentorship, and his experience working with The Resultants.

 

Can you give us some background about your role and your company, LetterStream Inc.?


I’m President, Founder, and Owner of LetterStream Inc., and I created the company with a buddy of mine exactly 20 years ago — we’re celebrating our 20th anniversary this year!


LetterStream is a printing and mailing company, but we’re really a SaaS organization. When customers are looking for a printing and mailing partner, they’ll usually find us. Once they find our website, they can sign up and create a piece of mail.


Using our software, you can create just one piece and send it to grandma, or you can create and send 100,000 pieces. We can do first class mail, marketing mail, postcards, certified mail, and even FedEx. Our market is anybody who needs to get a message to somebody else.


What does your day-to-day look like as President?


I’m an operating President, so I’m very hands on. Maybe that’s just out of habit, because when I started the company, it was just me!


As we’ve continued to grow, it’s been challenging to get out of the “do it all yourself” mindset. But we started hiring, and sharp people have been able to take on more and more responsibilities. I haven’t swept the floor or licked an envelope in a long time!


So my day-in-day-out activities are leaning more toward those of a Director or CEO. About half of my job involves interacting with outside forces, exceptions, or critical issues… But I could be gone for months at a time and nobody would miss me. We’ve got a good team of 30 employees.


Prior to working with The Resultants, what were your main pain points?


LetterStream is a very fast-growing organization. We’ve got a strong team and we do a lot of things right.


But more than anything, I was struggling with how to navigate our quick growth. As our organization grew bigger and bigger, I felt off balance. I wasn’t familiar with the ins and outs of working with such a large company. I felt like I was in the dark.


But in my first conversations with Steve, it was very clear that he’d been there, done that. And he was helping many other companies do the exact same thing that I was doing. He knew exactly where I was at, exactly what the problems were with the business.


Steve sees things in the organization that I can’t see, because he has a vantage point. It’s like he has a “sixth sense.” And instead of “seeing dead people,” he sees challenges, opportunities, and things that need to be addressed.


How often do you meet with Steve? Does he also meet with your leadership team?


Steve actually leads our Executive Team Meeting once a week, then I meet with him one-on-one monthly, and sometimes more. If I needed to, I could shoot him a message right now and say, “Hey Steve, I’m having trouble with this or that.” And he’d find time in his day where he’d text me back and try to set up a meeting so we could chat more deeply.


And then we have our quarterly full-day meeting for which he and Jenelle will fly into Scottsdale. He’ll lead the meeting in-person, running us through a program. It lasts all day, from 8 AM to 5 PM.


We start with basic questions: Who we are, what do we do… Simple questions, but sometimes we lose focus of that stuff, right? Who do we present ourselves as, who are our customers, and what are our long term goals?


From there, we launch into our full day, and discuss our quarterly strategic projects, annual goals, and we assess how well we're meeting those goals. Then we have an annual meeting, which is a two full-day program.


Did you try any other business strategies before you decided to work with The Resultants? How effective were they?


We were already having weekly meetings, and we also had Trello meetings in which we’d manage our strategic initiatives and break them down into tasks. So we might have had an upper hand on process and strategic planning. But Steve came in and really made it pop!


We were getting a lot done. But navigating it all was the hardest part, and Steve came in with tools in his bag. I’ve worked with The Resultants for a year and a half, and even though I had a pretty successful organization to begin with, having somebody who could come in and give me mentorship, advice, and confidence was so valuable.


Has anything changed or improved in your business since working with The Resultants?


A lot has changed. Our management team is different, but it’s also more robust because of how Steve helped us structure a new role. We also mapped out our three-year organizational structure. So The Resultants have really helped us shore this thing up from the sides and bottom so we have a clearer picture of it.


At the same time, it feels like nothing has changed, because it felt like this was the path that we were supposed to be on. So it’s not like we were yanked into a different lane — more so that we were on this path, and that path led us to Steve and The Resultants.


And, to continue with the analogy, Steve was out there painting stripes on the side of the road, saying, “See there’s a cliff over there, you probably don’t wanna go over there!” and “I’ll bring in the crew, we’ll make sure the street’s swept,” and doing helpful things like leaving jugs of water on the side of the road for us.


So as far as the trajectory we were on, nothing has really changed. But our ability to move forward through that trajectory with fewer worries, fewer obstacles, being equipped with tools and resources… It’s been empowering.


Any other personal wins you feel like you’ve gained over the past year and a half?


Another big win for me personally is not needing to lead the Executive Team Meetings every week. With Steve leading the ETMs now, I don’t even have to be there! I know Steve’s gonna hold the meeting, hold people accountable, address issues, come up with action items, and remind us to keep moving forward.


Steve also acts as my mentor, which provides tremendous value to me. So the biggest win is simply having somebody around who’s been there, done that. There’s a lot that I’m able to learn from Steve. And one of the things I appreciate the most is that when Steve came in, he really allowed us to be in business in the way that matched who we were. He didn’t try to change anything vital to our values or operations. He came alongside us and helped us move forward.


In many ways, I felt like I was walking down a dirt road and trying to get to a destination in the dark. And then there was Steve, somebody who’s not only walked that road before, but also has a flashlight and can shine light on solutions. It’s above and beyond the scope of what I thought The Resultants could provide for us.



To learn more about David Patterson and LetterStream, please visit LetterStream.com.


 

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