Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Roger's Book

Roger Frock’s Changing How the World Does Business
Roger quotes Emerson: "It is a lesson which all history teaches wise men; To put trust in ideas and not circumstances."
"In truth, the mature plan for the Federal Express services, as with most creative ideas, did not spring forth fully conceptualized. It was in fact inspired by a series of events that over time contributed to the concept’s evolution." (13)
"At this point, I could not help but marvel at the twists and turns that ultimately affect our lives; the events and people that shape us in ways that we seldom appreciate and never clearly understand." (30)
I have the privilege of knowing Roger Frock, as a friend and fellow student of Spiritual Philosophy, and I’m delighted to have read his new book. I read it over the Thanksgiving holiday during my trip home to Memphis, where our family gathers for the occasion, and this was a perfectly fitting context to appreciate the creation of FedEx. The FedEx hub and those airplanes with the signature purple and orange are omnipresent to anyone who goes near the Memphis airport, and we all have fresh memories of the sound of FedEx planes in their flight patterns over our parents’ old house, like clockwork – predictable as metronomes.
It is a pleasure to read about the personalities that went from ideas born of passion to create, to persistent problem-solving of every kind as they worked tirelessly together to succeed. When Roger writes about Fred Smith’s thanking the small staff, after their move to Memphis, for their dedication to his dream, he offers a clear sense of the spirit of unity, cooperation, commitment, and excitement that was so obviously part of the creative energy of this group. Roger captures this image early:
"Thus was born the company mantra, the lodestar, the guiding ideal, and the primary foundation of the corporate culture at Federal Express – motivated people working together to produce exceptional service for customers who would provide revenues to produce profits. The genesis of the cultural vision was beautiful in its simplicity, it was motivational, and it was accurate – People-Service-Profit, the trinity of cyclical action." (67)
Roger’s book is a great read, and for many more than entrepreneurs with big dreams. This is a roadmap of how people with good ideas and the passion to create from those ideas can really influence the way we all experience our world. Roger really shows how the "purple-blood" attitude and loyalty to creation (ideas-becoming-reality) is a human response that reveals the best in us as people. Knowing Roger, having known many employees of Federal Express, and appreciating the persistence and joy of creating more and more, I agree with Charles Lea’s assessment that "…I felt that finally the right man had stepped forward to chronicle this dramatic bit of business history." Roger was the operational guide, and he obviously did his homework every inch of the way in playing this important role. His excitement and appreciation of the experiences they all shared are obvious, too, and it’s a gift to readers to be able to share the journey in this way. We get all the benefits without the long nights and cliff-hangers. Thanks for writing this important book, Roger. Yours is a great addition to the annals of creative stories, particularly for people with innovative ideas.

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