Bruce Littlefield is a man of many talents. He is a New York Times best-selling author. He frequently appears on national television and has been featured in prestigious publications. And to top it off, he is the owner and designer of two award-winning restaurants. All of this is merely a small insert on his lifelong resume. If you ask this J-school alum how he got where he is today, he’ll tell you it was simply his curiosity for life.
Littlefield is the product of small town living in South Carolina. It was the good storytelling and “never-a-dull-moment” characters in Enoree, S.C. that sparked Littlefield’s curiosity. Visiting the local residents and mom-and-pop corner stores with his grandmother gave Littlefield an appreciation for Southern hospitality and down home living. But it also started turning the wheels of what would be a lifelong journey searching for new ideas and American lifestyle.
In fall 1985, Littlefield stormed USC’s campus with high ambitions and charm on his side. He majored in broadcast journalism, and took advantage of every opportunity that came his way. As he says, “Curiosity is the nature of journalism,” and he maintained a certain inquisitiveness throughout his time in college. “In order to get noticed, you have to work very hard, similar to the real world,” says Littlefield. This meant taking every opportunity that came his way including internships, writing for The Daily Gamecock and being part of a number of clubs.
One organization in particular where Littlefield made a name for himself was the South Carolina Scholastic Press Association, where he became SCSPA student president. Dr. Bruce Konkle, associate professor in the J-school and former director of SCSPA, remembers Littlefield as a fun and energetic student. “Although it’s been more than 20 years since Bruce served as student president of SCSPA, he’s certainly someone who is quite memorable for the energy he brought to his presidency of a scholastic press association and for his accomplishments here as a broadcast student,” says Dr. Konkle. “ It’s great to know he’s doing so well, but I could have predicted that based on his outgoing personality, great work ethic and broad skill set.”
While Littlefield was making an impression outside the classroom, his peers and professors were making their impressions on him. He recounts the importance of cultivating friendships during his time at USC and say “friends are the secret to success.” He recalls one friend in particular, the late Dr. Lee Dudek, his former broadcast journalism professor. It was in his class that Littlefield began to appreciate high pressure and split-second decisions. “Dr. Dudek was a great mentor and fostered a competitive edge in class. When he believed in you, he challenged you and pushed you ahead.”
Littlefield graduated from USC Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and was named an Outstanding Senior. Post graduation, he immediately moved to New York to try his luck with modeling and acting. Although his grandmother hoped to see Littlefield on the cast of her favorite soap opera Guiding Light, Littlefield realized modeling and acting were not his life calling. While following the presidential election of 1992, Littlefield was displeased with the press coverage and mixed messages being delivered by the media. His irritation of the press led him to write an essay to Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation that advocates free press. Littlefield’s essay landed him a full scholarship funded by Freedom Forum to New York University, where he earned his master’s degree in journalism in 1996.
“Today’s culture feels entitled, but nothing in life is handed to you,” says Littlefield. He has saved more than 300 rejection letters to remind him of what he has endured to continue to chase his dreams. He is empowered by the numerous rejections he has faced through the years, and firmly believes in the word “yes.” He advises future graduates to leap at every opportunity and stay open to everything. He says, “You find your route by saying yes.”
The author of the critically acclaimed Garage Sale America, Airstream Living and Lifestyle Authority has three new books and a TV show in the works. The new edition of his best-selling book with Barbara Corcoran (ABC Shark Tank, Today Show real estate contributor) will be out in January 2011 to coincide with the second season of Shark Tank. The Bedtime Book for Dogs will launch in June 2011. He is currently writing Truth (How to Get it and How to Give it) with Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl. It will be released in January 2012.
Littlefield has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s Early Show and the Rachael Ray Show, and has been featured in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the New York Post and People Magazine. His restaurants are the Rosendale Cement Company and the Alamo. He blogs about American culture at HYPERLINK "http://www.brucelittlefield.com/" http://www.brucelittlefield.com/.
Looking back, Littlefield says he has come a long way. His journey thus far has granted him useful wisdom that he carries with him throughout his voyage. He advises future journalism professionals to write about things that interest them and to remember that nothing is handed to them. He also suggests keeping a daily to-do list and to make sure there’s always someone on your list who you haven’t talked to in a while. He adds that doing work for free here and there doesn’t hurt either. “Doing freebies with things that you're passionate about can often lead to a job,” he says.
Littlefield continues to live in Manhattan and loves every New York minute of it. Going from a trailer in Small Town U.S.A to a dream apartment overlooking 99th and Broadway took nothing less than hard work with a dose of curiosity. He knows what it means to take every aspect of journalism and turn it into what he loves most. As an author, designer and one who lives the lifestyle of his dreams, Littlefield is the poster child for integrated journalism.