We almost all know that mothers expect and deserve a hand-written card on Mother's Day. Same with Valentine's Day for anyone who loves or is loved. I can tell you from experience that you can have just as powerful an impact if you send a written "thank you" when somebody has done something special for you.

Did they do you a favor, send you a special gift, cover a shift, run an errand, stand by you during a difficult time, defend you behind your back? There are a million reasons to say "thanks."

In today's environment it's easy to send a text or e-mail thanking somebody, but those options have a whisper of an impact. A hand-written thank-you card, on the other hand, shouts gratitude. And it really stands out because so few people do it.

I always have a variety of thank-you cards in my office drawer and in my travel bag that include pet themes (wonder why?!). Some handmade cards were crafted by local friends, and many other are from Hallmark and Papyrus. My very favorite ones are those I order from Thornwillow.com They have the look and feel of a white-collar luxury brand but are sold at blue-collar prices. They have thick card stock and thick envelopes that are colored on the inside.

Now for the most important part of a powerful, memorable thank you. What's inside. Three key things:

1. Acknowledgment of the gift: "I love the tie with the dogs on it."

2. Recognition of time and effort spent to select it: "You must have toured every store and ran a flea comb through the Internet to find something so unique."

3. A prediction of how you will use your gift or the way it has enhanced you life: "I'll be sure and wear this the next time I'm on TV."

Send thank-yous routinely, chose the card carefully, write a heartfelt message that hits all three keys and you'll stand out from the crowd and be remembered and revered.

Remember: The extra mile is never crowded.