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Fred 2.0: New Ideas on How to Keep Delivering Extraordinary Results

Fred 2.0: New Ideas on How to Keep Delivering Extraordinary Results


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Nine years ago, bestselling author and business consultant Mark Sanborn introduced the world to Fred, his postman, who delivered extraordinary service in simple but remarkable ways. Fred’s story inspired millions. Companies—even, cities—were inspired to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary each day.

Today, with stiff competition from the networked global economy, delivering extraordinary results is more important than ever. With Fred 2.0, Mark not only revisits the original Fred to gain new insights, but also equips all of us with new strategies to achieve more. You’ll not only be inspired by Fred 2.0, you’ll also have the tools and strategies to aim higher and achieve the extraordinary.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781414362205
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 03/05/2013
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 141,879
Product dimensions: 5.44(w) x 7.66(h) x 0.69(d)

About the Author

Mark Sanborn is the New York Times bestselling author of The Fred Factor, as well as six other popular books. Mark is president of Sanborn and Associates Inc., an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. He is a noted authority and an in-demand speaker on leadership, customer service, and extraordinary performance. He lives in the Denver area with his wife and two sons. For more information, visit

Read an Excerpt

Fred 2.0


Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 Mark Sanborn
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-6220-5

Chapter One


We all carry the seeds of greatness within us, but we need an image as a point of focus in order that they may sprout. EPICTETUS

The Fred concept is based on the story of the real-life postal carrier Fred Shea, who delivered my mail for nearly a decade. When I first met Fred, I was so impressed by his performance that I started paying attention, taking notes about him and talking about him in my speeches and seminars, and ultimately writing a book about him. The account of his ability to take the ordinary job of putting mail in a box day after day and make it extraordinary made a connection with those who heard or read it.

It's hard to believe that a simple story about a mailman took off the way it did, but since The Fred Factor was released in 2004, it went on to become the number six bestselling business book of the year, according to Businessweek magazine. Since that time it has sold more than 1.6 million copies in the United States and around the world.

I share that because it is gratifying to know that someone who does an ordinary job in an extraordinary way can have such a powerful impact on people around the world.

Why did the book succeed? I think a main reason is because it wasn't about a big name like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. When we read about such titans of business success, we tend to think, Well, yeah, they're geniuses. I'm just an ordinary person working at a normal job. They're among the richest people on the planet!

What does Fred have to work with? He has a blue-gray uniform and a bag. That's pretty much it once he leaves the substation. And yet he makes artistry out of his work.

If Fred can be extraordinary in what could be a tedious job, then there is no reason why you and I can't reinvent our own work, whatever it may be.


We all love a good story, and the best stories are true.

So let me tell you a story about another incredible mail carrier. He is beloved by the people on his route for his cheerfulness, his encouragement, and his love for both his work and his customers. He consistently goes beyond the call of duty and has become such an important part of his customers' lives that they tell others about the incredible work he does. His commitment to his job and his community has even gotten him media attention.

He's Mailman Mike, from West Covina, California.

I learned about Mike from Angela Carter, who contacted me after reading The Fred Factor.

"After reading your book," she wrote, "I thought to myself, He just has to hear about our mailman...."

Mike's name is Michael Flowers, but on his route he's better known by the name Brother Love. He's committed to his wife and three children—and also to the people he delivers mail to.

Angela related the story of when she first met Mailman Mike. She was going through a difficult period in her life and was dealing with deep sadness. As she was going into her house, Mike yelled out from across the street, "Hi, beautiful!" His simple encouragement was music to her ears.

From that point on, she began talking to Mike each day when he delivered her mail. She also discovered how much Mike meant to the other people on the route. Angela sent me pictures and notes to illustrate her point.

Mike, Angela says, knows everyone on his route by name, along with some of the circumstances they are facing. She has no idea how he can remember so much about those he serves.

For instance, each year Mike deep-fries turkeys for people on his route and gives them as Thanksgiving and Christmas gifts. (If he misses someone on Thanksgiving, he makes sure they get a turkey at Christmas.) When he was featured in the local newspaper, some of his customers had the article framed and presented it to him.

On Mother's Day, Mike brought Angela flowers.

"I call Mrs. Carter Mom," Mike said. "There are several people in my life I give that name to. It's a title I do not take lightly. I feel the people who inspire me deserve a better salutation from me than just Mrs. What's even better is that they allow me to call them Mom. How sweet is that?"

But then came trouble. The postal service reorganized routes, and Mike was assigned a new area. His customers were distraught. They asked if they could get him back, but they were told flatly that it wasn't possible.

The Bible says, "With God all things are possible." With customers who are raving fans, many things are possible too.

Thanks to guidance from the newspaper editor who wrote the article about Mike, this neighborhood mounted a campaign, starting with their congresswoman. Then Angela went door-to-door with a petition. She was amazed at the response.

"I couldn't believe how Mike was so humble, yet his life had touched so many."

The group's persistence paid off. One hundred days after Mike was taken off the route, he was reassigned to his old territory.

With her letter, Angela included a picture of her street, taken the day Mike returned. Neighbors had tied yellow ribbons to every tree and bush to welcome him back.

The newspaper article includes this quote by Michael Flowers, aka Brother Love: "If God didn't give me anything else, he gave me love."


In the years since The Fred Factor came out, I've received hundreds of similar stories about Freds—individuals who turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. These people are diverse in their jobs, backgrounds, and life experiences. In addition to stories about postal carriers, I've heard numerous accounts of customer service professionals who went above and beyond the call of duty. But Freds also showed up in unexpected places. Some educators adopted the principles in their schools, businesses implemented company-wide Fred initiatives, and a prison instituted a program for inmates using The Fred Factor. A city was even declared Fredville, USA. (You'll read many of these stories and examples in the pages ahead.)

What makes these stories fascinating is that they stand in stark contrast to indifferent employees, unhelpful coworkers, and rude experiences—what we often think of as "normal." When we run into a Fred, we are pleasantly surprised, if not outright delighted.

Frankly, if the anecdotes and stories were normal and unremarkable, I wouldn't be writing about them because you wouldn't be interested in reading them.

The common trait that all these individuals share? None of them settled for normal, average, or ordinary. They all chose to be better than normal; they chose to be extraordinary.


We don't talk much about normal unless we want to get back to it after a period of upheaval. That's because normal is what we get used to. Normal is easy, familiar. But is that the best we can aim for each day—to be normal?

Peggy Noonan, one of my favorite writers, recently commented that people who run for president often try to come across as normal. In her column, she points out that wanting to be the leader of the free world really isn't normal, and it isn't something most people aspire to or are capable of. But she doesn't see it as a bad thing that they're different from the average person. "Anyway," she says, "normal is overrated."

I love to ski, and being from Colorado, I get many opportunities to do so. When I meet people on ski lifts, they tell me they love the mountain experience and are sad when they have to head home to normal. I hear a similar sentiment when I'm vacationing at the beach. Even after people are congratulated on receiving an award, they sometimes talk about how they'll feel when things are back to normal.

Is it possible that we aim too low? Maybe the thrill of the ski run, the relaxation of the beach, or the exhilaration of an award should be our benchmark for normal rather than the monotony of everyday life.

No one can live on the mountaintop all the time. And it is often said that valleys help us appreciate the high points in life. But while that may be true, too many people seem to accept the valley as a permanent residence.

I like to aspire higher. If you want more out of life, go for more. Raise your expectations. Settle up, rather than down.

In other words, recalibrate to great.


"Nobody can prevent you from choosing to be extraordinary."

In 2004, management guru Tom Peters chose this quote from The Fred Factor as one of his favorites of the year. The statement is simple but true. Whether you are encouraged, taught, rewarded, or recognized for being extraordinary, at the end of the day it is a choice you have to make. No one else can make it for you—not your employer, not your spouse, not your friend. It's something you have to pursue yourself.

The Benefits of Extraordinary

So what's the point of exerting extra thought and effort into being extraordinary?

You will receive many benefits from being extraordinary. But after studying extraordinary individuals and organizations for more than twenty-five years, I've identified four of the most powerful benefits.

1. Extraordinary brings us delight. Just as a spectacular sunrise has the ability to jump-start our senses and remind us of the wonders of life, an extraordinary act or experience, whether we provide it or experience it, increases our joy. That is why stories of the extraordinary go viral. They are not just unusual—they are inspirational. We want to share the delight with others.

2. Extraordinary sets us apart. Goethe said there are so many echoes and so few voices. Many resources, it seems, are undifferentiated commodities that we could get from anyone, anywhere, anytime. Employees who offer nothing different from other employees are interchangeable—and they likely won't go far in their careers.

If everything we provide, as individuals or organizations, is exactly the same as what others provide, there is no reason for customers to choose us, our products, or our services above others. That means the competition always will be based on price—lowest price, to be exact. If we want to be in demand as an employee or employer, or as a product or service provider, we need to make sure we offer customers the ultimate differentiator: an extraordinary experience.

3. Extraordinary defends our position. The price for sloppiness and mediocrity is higher today than it ever has been. If consumers can get better service or value elsewhere, they'll abandon the inferior for the superior without giving a second thought to loyalty. It is difficult and expensive to get customers, land a job, and form new relationships. If we aren't committed to continually delighting the important people in our businesses (and in our lives), we run the risk that they'll go elsewhere. Our best defense is when someone says, "There is nobody like him or her. I won't accept a substitute."

4. Extraordinary determines our happiness and success. A life well lived is the sum of extraordinary effort, extraordinary relationships, and extraordinary results. There's nothing wrong with ordinary if that's all we aspire to. The problem, as I see it, is that many people would like to be extraordinary but fear disappointment, so they settle. Normal becomes enough—not because it is desirable, but because it is a safer alternative to the pursuit of the extraordinary.

Pastor and author Bill Hybels says, "Personally, I've never understood inactivity. Why a person would sit when he could soar, spectate when he could play, or atrophy when he could develop is beyond me."

The good news is that the difference between ordinary and extraordinary isn't as big as you might think.

Alecia Is Extraordinary

My family enjoys eating at a Mexican restaurant in our neighborhood. One night my wife, Darla, wasn't feeling well and asked the boys and me to bring back an order for her when we finished dining.

The three of us loaded up and drove to the restaurant. When our waitress, Alecia, came to take our order, I said, "My wife is under the weather, so I'm going to order her food now. If you'll just try to time it so it's ready to go when we're finished, I'd be grateful."

Alecia was attentive and cheerful as she served us that evening. At the end of our meal, she brought out a bag with two Styrofoam containers of food for Darla. On one she'd written in red ink, "Hope you're feeling better. {Smiley face.} Alecia."

When we got home, Darla asked, "Who's Alecia?"

After I explained, she was touched by Alecia's thoughtfulness.

The next time we ate at that restaurant, we asked if we could be seated in Alecia's section. Again, she did an extraordinary job.

A few weeks later when we returned, we asked if Alecia was working.

"She is, but her section is full," the hostess informed us.

"That's fine," we said. "We'll wait."

Alecia wasn't a manager. She didn't have any special privileges. And she certainly didn't have a company budget. Yet with just a tiny bit of extra effort and a red pen, she took her service from ordinary to extraordinary.

We all have that same opportunity to go beyond the typical, beyond what is normal or expected. If we choose, we can do things—large and small—that enrich the lives of those we live and work with, as well as our own lives.

After all, normal is overrated.


Excerpted from Fred 2.0 by MARK SANBORN Copyright © 2013 by Mark Sanborn. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Introduction: Why Fred 2.0? xiii

Chapter 1 Normal Is Overrated 1

Chapter 2 What Ever Happened to Fred? 11

Chapter 3 Its Always about Service 21

Chapter 4 Start with Commitment 31

Chapter 5 Work with Passion 43

Chapter 6 Cultivate Your Creativity 51

Chapter 7 Develop Your Difference 63

Chapter 8 Build Better Relationships 73

Chapter 9 Elevate the Experience 87

Chapter 10 Renew Your Resolve 101

Chapter 11 What If You're a Head Fred? 113

Chapter 12 Build a Team Fred 125

Chapter 13 Raise a Fred Jr. 137

Chapter 14 Create a Community of Freds 149

Chapter 15 Best Always 163

Afterword 175

Acknowledgments 179

About the Author 181

What People are Saying About This

Beth Scheitzach

The Fred Factor has had a measurable impact on our university employees, and Fred 2.0 is destined to create an even bigger ripple effect. This is a must-read book.

Harvey Mackay

When Mark Sanborn first introduced us to Fred, he challenged us to do our jobs better. Now with Fred 2.0, he inspires us to take our service to the next level.

John C. Maxwell

I promise that if you take Mark Sanborn’s advice to heart and begin a more ‘Fred-like’ existence, you will never view yourself the same way again.

Tony Hsieh

At Zappos we have been using The Fred Factor for several years to inspire our employees to take ownership of customer service and to use their own experiences to live and deliver wow.

Michael Hyatt

Mark Sanborn has done it again. . . . Fred 2.0 demonstrates you can provide greater service, build better relationships, and create more value. It isn’t just a recipe for finding more satisfaction at work; it’s a blueprint for fixing our global economy.

Jennifer M. Griffith

Fred 2.0 is a book everyone in a service business will want to read and share!

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