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Expand Your Fred-ness
on April 3, 2013
There really aren't a lot of books that should be on everyone's "must read" list when you consider how varied our interests are. Sure, if you like biographies you simply can't miss Carl Van Doren's 1938 Pulitzer winner on Benjamin Franklin. If great literature is your thing, Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird ranks right up there, and if your desire is to learn how to budget your money, George Classen's The Richest Man In Babylon tops the list, but even these great books would not fit on everyone's "must read" list. Great literature may bore you to death and you may have no desire whatsoever to save money. Of the few books that do belong on everyone's list, the Bible comes to mind. Whether you are a believer in Christ or not, the Bible is simply full of great words to live by. And if you are a citizen of this universe, and I believe most people reading this are, you should add The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn. It's just one of those rare books that would benefit everyone is some way.
FRED 2.0: New Ideas on How to Keep Delivering Extraordinary Results, is a continuation of The Fred Factor. Here Sanborn expands on Fred-ness and as the subtitle suggests - presents fresh ideas to continue on your Fred journey. The story of Fred Shea the postman has become a staple in business, but being a Fred isn't about just business, it's about everything we do in our lives to help others and this book is chalk full of examples, anecdotes and ideas on how to increase your Fred-ness.
There were many pearls of wisdom I found and I just want to touch on a few. The first one was about employees found in the opening pages when Sanborn writes, "Employees who offer nothing different from other employees are interchangeable." The same philosophy applies to business. If there is nothing unique or extraordinary about your business, you may have loyal customers but they won't be advocates for your business.
Next I found this, "A commitment without a goal is like a trip without a road map; odds are you won't get to where you want to be." How true is this? People often confuse the two and because they feel a strong commitment, they fail to clearly define goals. Then on page 63 I found this gem, "What kind of difference did you make today?" I've made this my new email tagline. If we consistently keep that question in mind, we can't help but make a huge impact on others.
I found this keepsake rule of customer service, "a problem is an opportunity to increase loyalty". We tend to view customer issues as something we have to deal with instead of viewing it an opportunity to build a better relationship with that customer. It's all in how you approach it. This was part of an entire chapter of gems on improving customer service and I'm only scratching the surface here. There's even a chapter of "Freducation" that discusses promoting Fred-ness in schools and other areas of child rearing.
If I have any knock at all on this book it is that you should read The Fred Factor first, but I don't see that as a knock at all. If you haven't read The Fred Factor by now, what are you waiting on? Reading it first will just give the reader a better overall understanding of Fred-ness. In the first book, Sanborn does, I think, a better job of explaining what being a Fred is all about. Don't worry though, I'm sure some marketing genius is already presenting the idea of packaging the two books together.