The Fred Factor

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The Fred Factor

by Mark Sanborn

Currency/Doubleday © 2004, 112 pages, $14.95 (ISBN 0-385-51351-8).

How to Turn the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary

Fred is the ordinary-looking postal carrier with a small moustache who delivers mail to motivational speaker Mark Sanborn’s house in the WashingtonPark area of Denver. But he is no ordinary U.S. Postal Service worker. According to Sanborn, he is the kind of worker who exemplifies everything that is “right” with customer service and business in general, and is “a gold-plated example of what personalized service looks like and a role model for anyone who wants to make a difference in his or her work.”

Not only did Sanborn get the best postal service he had ever experienced when he moved to Fred’s route, but he also got a perfect example of superior service to illustrate his presentations to business leaders throughout the United States. According to Sanborn, anyone can be a Fred and live an extraordinary life as well.

Four Fred Principles

After examining the factors that make Fred the Postman such an extraordinarily committed service person, Sanborn honed them down to four principles that can be applied to improve anyone’s life and work. These principles are:

1. Everyone makes a difference. Some might see delivering mail as monotonous drudgery, but Fred sees the task as an opportunity to make the lives of his customers more enjoyable. Regardless of whether an employer hinders exceptional performance, ignores it, or does not adequately recognize it, only the employee can choose to do his or her job in an extraordinary way. Sanborn writes, “Nobody can prevent you from choosing to be exceptional.”

2. Success is built on relationships. Indifferent people deliver impersonal service. Sanborn writes that service becomes personalized when a relationship exists between the provider of the service and the customer. The quality of the relationship determines the quality of the product or service. Leaders succeed when they recognize that their employees are human, and employees like Fred the Postman succeed when they recognize their work involves interacting with other human beings.

3. You must continually create value for others, and it doesn’t have to cost a penny. Replace money with imagination. Sanborn explains that the object is to outthink your competition rather than outspend them. The most critical skill that contributes to employability is the ability to create value for customers and colleagues without spending money to do it. Substitute creativity for capital. Mediocrity is your silent opponent and can diminish the quality of your performance as well as the meaning you derive from it.

4. You can reinvent yourself regularly. If Fred the Postman can excel at bringing creativity and commitment to putting mail in a box, you are probably capable of doing as much or more to reinvent your work and rejuvenate your efforts. Sanborn believes that “no matter what job you hold, what industry you work in, or where you live, every morning you wake up with a clean slate. You can make your business, as well as your life, anything you choose it to be.”

Fred Sightings

Sanborn points out that Freds can be found everywhere, and there are more Freds out there than he once thought. One Fred is a woman at a hotel who helped Sanborn out in a pinch by taking his coffee-stained pants home with her overnight to personally wash and press for his departure the next day.

Another Fred he describes is a flight attendant who made a 6:15 a.m. flight from Denver to San Francisco more enjoyable for passengers by lightening the usual announcements with her unique sense of humor: “If you are having a hard time getting your ears to pop, I suggest you yawn widely. And if you are having a hard time yawning, ask me to tell you about my love life.” Sanborn explains that she took some risks and had some fun, and as a result, her “customers” the passengers had fun, too.

Another Fred who Sanborn describes is a hotel worker who lent him $30 when he had no cab fare for his ride home. Sanborn explains that this Fred knows that the way to move through life joyfully and successfully is by focusing on what you give rather than what you get. Freds do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

Sanborn explains that if you want more Freds in the world, be a Fred. Throughout the rest of The Fred Factor, he describes how every individual can make a difference, and offers numerous difference-making strategies to help readers influence the world in a positive way. ~

Why We Like This Book

The Fred Factor presents a compassionate look at how every action we take can be made more significant if we take the time to reinvent our work and rejuvenate our efforts. By providing a look at the normal people who do extraordinary things in their daily activities, Sanborn presents heart-warming business lessons that expose the value and endless possibilities for improving life and work that come from loving others. ~

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