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How one man impacted the future of a business by simply giving his best to a seemingly small job

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I recently was honored to receive the American Football Coaches Association CEO Coach of the Year Award at their annual dinner.  This event raises money for AFCA members to educate and support the smaller college and high school coaches to become better at their jobs.  It’s an important goal since some 1.5 million youngsters are playing football, many without positive male influences other than their coaches.

It’s an honor to be recognized by a group that champions the role of coaches throughout America.  The good ones teach young people not only how to be better players but also how to be better human beings. Coaches model the teamwork, commitment and hard work they ask of their players.  Furthermore, the influence of good coaches is felt not just on the field, but also at home, in the classroom and later in life, long after the games are over.  

Whether you are coaching sports, leading a work team, or mentoring another employee, you never know how much of a positive difference you could be making in someone’s life. 

It reminds me of a story from the early days of FedEx.  We had met with a group of investors to try to get them to invest in our young company, but they decided against giving us the money.  We were very disappointed.  But the next day, one of the investors called me and said the group members had changed their mind and we would indeed be receiving the funds we had requested.  “Just out of curiosity,” I asked the man, “what made you change your mind?” Here’s what he told me:  “When we were leaving the hangar, we noticed how clean everything was—you could eat off the floor, you could see your face in the shiny surfaces.  Everything was spic-and-span.  And then we saw the gentleman, a partially disabled janitor, who was responsible for taking care of the place.  We talked it over and decided if this type of excellence is supported at the very front-line level, then FedEx was a company that we were willing to invest in.”

What a difference that FedEx janitor’s excellent work made in the future of our company.  What a difference we can all make in the futures of those around us by doing our best work and influencing others to do theirs.

Comments (61) 

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I was at the Fallbrook, California post office yesterday (10/28)when I saw your Fed Ex driver come to the aid of a lady who tripped over a parking curb and had fallen. He stopped to help her up and then bandaged her scraped arm. I did not write down his van information but I can't imagine there are multiple drivers in our little town. Anyway, your driver when out of his way to show kindness and compassion and I wanted to let you know that someone noticed and is very proud of him!!

I happened to be at tthat dinner when Mr. Smith gave the speech listed above. It was received very well by our customers and the rest of the audience. A silence fell over the room for a few moments as people reflected on the real meaning of how people make a difference. Regardless of one's stature. Leadership starts at the top, but everyone is a leader, even if only of yourelf. A quote from the book titled " Speed of Trust"

Following along by your example, Mr.Smith, are some of your employees who performed miracles in order to get my passport from Iowa to Tampa in time (and before promised delivery)for me to be able to fly to Grand Cayman and meet my family on the cruise ship. I would like to nominate Jacqualine, JANET HOPE, and Curtis Owens, for employees of the year! Unfortunately, I can not reach them to get supervisor names and addresses in order to send letters. I just appreciate their hard work above and beyond what is expected as I know they all went out of their way to get my passport to me in time. I want them to know I made it to the ship and really appreciated their help so much!!!

just wanted to let the world know how proud I am to be a part of the fed ex family. I have been a part for twelve years now and could not be any happier.Nor could I be any stronger,mentally or physically.The people I meet on my route and my co-workers are an inspiration to me.Keeping me on track to deliver the purple promise every chance I have.Keep up the great work team. GO FED EX!

The story of the janitor might just be the first example of The Purple Promise. Excellent post, Mr. Smith.

Mr. Smith, you are truely an inspiration to all of us and you lead by example. The person that you are is the type of person one would expect to find at FedEx. I have to say that "our" drivers, both Express, Ground and Home are the very best that FedEx has to offer. I would like to bring such a person to your atention. His name is Robert Brewin and he is our FedEx Ground driver in our town of Sequim, Washington. We have an FASC in Sequim and in the past 13 years, I have seen many drivers come & go. Robert is, by far, THE most conscientious driver that we have had in the past 13 years. He is considerate, helpful and will go that extra mile to accomplish his goal - getting his work finished in a timely and courteous manner. Our customers absolutely adore him and he is as "down home humble" as they come. After my husband passed away last year, I was battling to move something in our store and Robert came in. He saw that I needed some help and he said that he only had 5 minutes to spare but if I needed him, those minutes were mine. I never forgot that. Here was a man that literally runs to finish his route, offering us his only spare time! This is indeed the kind of person one can expect to find at FedEx and one that leads by your example. Thank you so much for having such wonderful people in your company!

Giving the best while doing a job is the basic of a perfect results.

ALWAYS KNOW WHAT YOUR RESPONSILITY IS TO PEOPLE WHEN YOU ARE TALKING TO THEM.PEOPLE AS A WHOLE PEOPLE AS A FRIEND. PEOPLE AS YOUR NEXT CUSTOMER, CUSTOMER SERVICE PEOPLE .THATS WHAT HELPS SERVICE NUMBER ONE. NUMBER TWO INNOVATIVE WE MUST ALL BE ON THE SAME PAGE. TIME IS VAULE AS WELL DON'T SIT FOR A HALF HOUR AND DECIDE IF YOU WANT ANOTHER TEAM MEMBER TO GET INVOLVED .I DIDN;T GET IT DONE DID YOU ,THAT'S WHY IAM ONE OF THE MOST REPECTFUL PURPLE PROMISE TEAM MEMMBERS TODAY I SPEAK FOR OUR CUSTOMER HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO ANSWER THE PHONE, HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO GET BACK TO THE CUSTOMER ABOUT HER PACKAGE, HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO GET BACK TO CUSTOMER SERVICE. HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO GET BACK TO FEDEX ONE CALL ,BE REPECTFULL AT ALL TIMES BECAUSE SOMETIMES WE MAY NOT HAVE THE RIGHT ANSWER OR WHAT OUR CUSTOMER WANTS TO HEAR WE WERE REPECTFUL THEN WHEN THE NEXT WE SPEAK I FIND THAT I HAVE ACCOMODATED THE CUSTOMERS.

for me You are a LEGEND.I wish you visit the Middle East to encourage us and share your ideas.

MR. SMITH THAX 4 YOUR IDEAS AN VISIONS AN GRACE AN LOVE 4 HELPING PEOPLE SIR I DUE LOVE AND ALWAYS THE PURPLE PROMISE AT'S BEST. I LOVE YOUR COMPANY AND I JUST STARTED REALY LEARNING AS A SVC AGENT SIR I JUST LOVE HELP'N BUT SIR CAN WE HAVE MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY OFF I WOULD THINK U LOOSE MONEY ON THAT DAY BUT THIS IS A MUST CANT WAIT 2 MEET U SIR PEACE N JOY

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About This Blogger

Smith gives his perspectives on the global economy as well as issues of importance to FedEx.

Other Posts by Fred Smith