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“The Fred Factor” by Mark Sanborn


The Fred Factor is the best-selling book and is written by Mark Sanborn, who is well known internationally as an author and speaker on team building and leadership. The book, in narrating the real story of Fred Shea, a postman, underlines the significance of being fervent about one’s life and work. This attitude motivates us to go the extra mile to add value for all who we meet in our everyday life. Fred is a postman with the spirit of serving everybody whom he deals with during the course of his duty. Although on the face of it, delivering mail appears to be a very simple and mundane task, Fred is able to transform his job into a pleasure activity not only for himself but for all his customers also. His dedication and positive attitude in providing the best possible mail service make him a class apart in bringing happiness to all the people he deals with. Everybody can learn a great deal by applying the same dedication and attitude as Fred to positively influence one’s own sphere of life and influences.

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Book Summary

The Fred factor is a true story about the life of Fred, the postman who worked as a postman in Denver. The story of Fred is narrated in a few pages, and the remaining parts of the book comprise the learning drawn by Sanborn from Fred’s life. Fred essentially deals with his mundane job as a postman with a lot of excitement and is always on the lookout for opportunities to add value for all those that he deals with during the course of his duty. After introducing himself to his clients, he tries to know their needs and lives. Once he gets to know the needs of people, he starts to respond to those needs in whatever ways possible for him. When mail recipients are out on a trip, he makes special arrangements for the delivery of their mail. He rectifies the instances of wrong deliveries of mail by delivering them to their actual recipients. He takes the added pains to perform postal duties in the neighborhood even when he is not on duty. Since Fred is very enthusiastic about his work, he never gets bored with the work and instead gets immense satisfaction from the job. In keeping with the examples set by Fred, even during adverse circumstances, Sanborn has formulated an entire philosophical way of living and working.

Sanborn introduces the following Fred principles:

  • everyone makes a difference
  • success is built on relationships
  • continually create value for others
  • reinvent yourself regularly

Sanborn also presents similar ideas by giving examples of a flight attendant who takes pride in his job by entertaining passengers with announcements that are humorous. He cites the example of the hotel worker who takes the pains to bring breakfast for his client from outside. He has also narrated the story of Colon Powell, who displayed immense energy and perfection in performing cleaning duties while still a young boy.

In Part Two of the book, Sanborn discusses how to become a Fred in keeping with the four Fred principles. He gives lively examples and advice in regard to being empathetic and being interested. At times he comes up with thought-provoking counseling by saying “tell the truth” (Mark Sanborn, Page 52), which is a core value of the book. The book also considers the difficulties and implications of always being truthful and emphasizes other less demanding lessons such as “add good stuff” (Mark Sanborn, Page 54). Part Three of the book deals with developing people as Freds by locating them, educating them, rewarding them, and making demonstrations of behavior that is like Fred. In Part Four of the book, we get to know that Fred has an interest in music and that as a boy, he used to repair drums. We also know that he is married and his wife’s name is Kathie. In fact, by telling about Fred, Sanborn is getting his readers to think about actions that Fred would have taken in any given circumstances. The author has purposely not gone into much detail about Fred because otherwise, his full and detailed story may have made readers get less convinced in becoming Fred-like.

Personal Work Experience

There are a number of examples in my work life where I have come across people with Fred-like qualities, and the most dominating is regarding James, who is an insurance agent with the insurance company that I work for. Typically life insurance covers are taken by salaried people to cover their life against unforeseen and sudden death as also to avail of tax exemptions in addition to gaining appreciation in their accumulated funds over the period of the life insurance policy. Most insurance agents have the attitude to sell insurance policies at the fastest possible in order to become eligible for commissions and to meet their given targets. They do not appear to have any concern for giving maximum benefit to the insured but rather aim at selling fast so that the company benefits and, in turn, they get their due commissions. However, James is different, which is why he has chosen to remain an agent for the past nine years instead of rising up the corporate ladder by way of promotions and incentives. I sense an immense pleasure in him when he goes about his job in advising people about the best cover for them in keeping with their unique personal circumstances in regard to age, employment, dependents, and investment goals. Unlike his colleagues, he goes the extra mile in making a detailed case study about each of his prospective clients in showing the break up of each parameter that has significance in the interest of the prospective client. He puts the interest of the client before that of the company and advises sincerely in regard to the open options that would yield the maximum advantage in terms of return on investment. This attitude has led him to become the top-performing agent in the company, and his earnings by way of commissions have gradually risen to become one of the highest. He takes a personal interest to remain in touch with each of his clients and keeps personal track of the movement of funds, and advises his clients at appropriate times when they should switch over to other investment schemes. He does not mince words when clients ask him to do things that other agents would never do, such as having the policies delivered personally at their home or to have a check collected for deposit of insurance premium. If at all there is a death claim on the policy, James ensures that the bereaved family does not undergo any hardship and pushes vigorously in the company to have the claim paid immediately. He has gained a reputation within the company for always demanding to have something is done that is genuine and which warrants immediate attention. I admire James for the way he works selflessly in keeping his clients happy and satisfied, and I am sure he does so because he enjoys what he does.


All the messages inferred from the book are not entirely new since the ideas pertaining to being more open-hearted and generous during the conduct of our daily life have occupied major discourses throughout history. However, the book has a lot of significance in terms of the philosophy of life. The book impresses upon the reader that we must accept life the way it is, particularly in regard to work, however mundane and boring it may happen to be, and that life has to be approached with a lot of enthusiasm and energy. The hidden optimism that Sanborn conveys relates to the fact that even if work is boring and mundane, we can change attitudes towards enjoying the same nature of work so as to bring about immense satisfaction from the same. The Fred factor is a big appealing factor for the management of companies in energizing and cheering up a workforce that is not motivated. A systematic demonstration of the principles narrated in the book can bring about far-reaching positive changes in the corporate environment. Essentially the book encourages managers to look at life and work in a more optimistic manner that enables the tasks to be completed with greater efficiency and satisfaction. By effectively imbibing the four Fred principles, corporate managers and executives can reinvent themselves on a regular basis because they will be able to build successful relationships and create immense value for the people that they deal with in their work environment. The Fred factor offers innumerable examples of ordinary people with ordinary jobs who cover the extra mile on a regular basis to make people happier with their extra zest and vigor. This is the central core of the motivating factor, as suggested by Sanborn, that can help people to make a happier and more satisfying working environment.

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Mark Sanborn, Fred Factor, 2004, Bantam Dell Pub Group.

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"“The Fred Factor” by Mark Sanborn." StudyCorgi, 9 Jan. 2022,

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StudyCorgi. "“The Fred Factor” by Mark Sanborn." January 9, 2022.


StudyCorgi. 2022. "“The Fred Factor” by Mark Sanborn." January 9, 2022.


StudyCorgi. (2022) '“The Fred Factor” by Mark Sanborn'. 9 January.

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