The Fred Factor

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The Fred Factor – How passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary

Mark Sanborn tells the story of Fred, who is an ordinary mail carrier that has a passionate attitude towards his work and life and thus turns an ordinary job into an extraordinary one. By simply being himself, Fred is the perfect example of personalized service.

Sanborn introduces four key principles for how we could become a Fred as well.


1. Everyone makes a difference

“There are no unimportant jobs, just people who feel unimportant doing their jobs.”

We are in control about choosing how we feel about work. We can decide what attitude we bring to our job. We can be doing our best work while having the most fun. By choosing to be role models for others we are able to inspire others to see the possibilities for themselves. In order to do this, we need to be the best version of ourselves. We are all making a difference every day to the people around us. The question at the end of the day should be “What kind of difference did we make?” When extraordinary people perform their jobs, there are no ordinary jobs.

“A mediocre employer can hinder exceptional performance, choose to ignore it, and not adequately recognize or encourage it. Or an excellent employer can train employees to achieve exceptional performance and then reward it. Ultimately though, only the employee can choose to do his or her job in an extraordinary way, regardless of the circumstances.”


2. Success is built on relationships

“You add value to people, when you value them” – John C. Maxwell

In the end everything comes down to the personal relationship we have with an individual. Success is built on the relationships we form with others. Do we perceive them as trustworthy to work for us? People are the end in itself, they or their relationships should not be used as a means to an end.

“Customers don’t have relationships with organizations; they form relationships with individuals.”

Sanborn paraphrases Kurt Vonnegut and states that it is the humanness that makes a business great, not the “businessness.” This perfectly summarizes the realization that in the end we deal with human beings and it is this personal connection that makes us want to purchase from them. Ultimately, the quality of the relationship determines the quality of the product or service.

“Service becomes personalized when a relationship exists between the provider and the customer.”


3. Continually create value for others without spending money

“With enough money anyone can buy his or her way out of a problem. The challenge is to outthink rather than to outspend the competition.”

Money can be replaced with imagination. In the increasingly complex times we are living in creativity becomes the new requirement for employability. Many companies and their employees operate on a mediocre level, which means that they are willing to do just enough and nothing more to get by. This, however, diminishes the quality of their performance and the meaning they derive from it. But we do not have to compare ourselves to the performance of others. We can compete against our own potential every day. We can always aim for the job we could have done, doing everything as good as we can. Creating value for others and act on the promises we make.

“If you just copy what other capable people are doing, you’ll only do as well as they do. The key is to adapt, to take good ideas from every source and then apply them with your own special flair.”


4. You can reinvent yourself regularly

“Benchmark where you are against how far you’ve come and where you want to go.”

It does not matter what past experiences we have made, which job we are doing or what industry we are operating in. Every day we wake up in a blank state and can make conscious decisions about how we create our life and work.

“No matter what happened yesterday, today is a new day.”

The question we all need to answer for ourselves is what are we doing and why are we doing this? Reflecting or journaling can help for finding an answer. So much depends on our personal attitude we bring towards work. When we know why we are doing what we are doing on a daily basis our engagement level raises no matter what task we have to perform or what job we hold.

“All work is honorable.” – Colin Powell


The benefit of being a Fred

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Simply doing our best possible job for others can increase our well-being. Or in other words, when we do good we feel well. The key to this is to realize the human being we are interacting with and treating them as friends. To put it in other words, we can live according to the golden rule of treating others like we would like to be treated. This can be summarized as the commitment we have to treat a person with dignity or kindness regardless of how we feel about him or her. By doing what we do with heart and passion and seeing the positive effect our actions have on other people, any ordinary job can become extraordinary.


About the author

Mark Sanborn is a recognized motivational speaker. He received the honor to become one of the youngest speakers ever inducted into the Speaker Hall of Fame. Topics he covers with his presentations are leadership, team building, customer service and mastering change. He has written books that cover similar leadership topics as well. Mark Sanborn is also the president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. Their mission is to develop leaders in business and life.

The Fred factor is based on the story of Mark Sanborn’s mail carrier. On the website of the book we can meet the real Fred or we can take a test to find out if we are a Fred as well.


Are you a Fred?

Take the test


The Fred Factor breaks down what is required to turn an ordinary job into an extraordinary one. It is something that we all can do. The book is written on point and seems small, but it contains a lot of beneficial lessons for our personal attitude towards the tasks we do daily.  Amazon DE  Amazon UK


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About Businesshumanizer

My name is Jens and I write about organizational evolution to inspire a way of organizing work that is human-centric. Find me at

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