Are You a Fred? How a Postal Worker Teaches Leadership and Service

by Dianna Brodine, Plastics Business

Before I left for the MAPP Benchmarking Conference, I was given a book called The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary. Written by Mark Sanborn, the book blurb exclaimed, “Seize the chance to be extraordinary!”

I love to read, but I typically choose well-crafted mysteries over business texts. However, The Fred Factor is a short book and it was given to me by someone whose opinion I value, so I used my airplane time to dive in. Five minutes after takeoff, I was hooked. Sanborn, a professional speaker on leadership and customer service, wrote the book after moving into a new neighborhood and meeting a postal worker who took such pride in his work that his very presence on the block made his customers’ lives better.

The book challenges readers to think about the people in our lives whose words and actions have motivated us to excel. Sanborn talks about the ways in which Fred impacted the people around him by creating a relationship with his customers and serving them to the absolute best of his ability at all times. And, Sanborn drives home the point that if a postal worker – whose profession is perhaps not known for its kindness and spirit of service – can impact so many people with a kind word, an extra hand and an understanding of their needs, why can’t the rest of us?

Fred the mail carrier is an example for anyone wanting to be an extraordinary leader or coworker. The principles in The Fred Factor also apply to those of us who desire to deliver exceptional customer service and cement business relationships. By choosing to build connections with those around us and taking action to make a difference in their lives, we create value.

Before I left Indianapolis, I gave my copy of The Fred Factor to another conference attendee – one whose energy and enthusiasm for plastics processing inspire me to work hard to create quality content for Plastics Business magazine. Now, I’m looking for opportunities to be the Fred in someone else’s life. Small actions make a big difference every day.