Author Archives: Zach Maurin

Service Helped Inspire Creation of FedEx

With the National Service Express nearing its end (27 stops/cities down…3 to go), it’s really incredible to think about all of the conversations that Sean and Matt have had as they traverse America. And in those conversations, it is even more incredible to think what the experience of service will produce in those who gave their time and energy. Friday night I came across one such story.

I was flipping through the TV late Friday evening when I stopped at the Charlie Rose Show. He was interviewing Fred Smith, founder and CEO of FedEx (video below). There are many fascinating stories about the origins of this incredibly impressive company…some true, some urban legend. (One true story is that he went to Vegas to raise money , but only had a few hundred dollars on him. He met a guy on the plane who gave him a $1,000 line of credit which he turned into $25,000 in Sin City.)

Anyway, what most interested me as I listened were two things: 1) Fred’s age when he conceptualized FedEx and 2) a major source of inspiration for FedEx’s innovative model. The founder was in college and his service in the Marine Corps gave him an important insight as to how to design a new way of shipping.

The innovation inspired by the Marine Corps is that FedEx integrates ground and air transportation to key hubs to more efficiently distribute shipments. Says Smith, “The air-ground part of it came from my service in the Marine Corps.” This isn’t that exciting to hear some 35 years later, but that’s not the point. The point is that service — time spent with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet, doing important things you might not otherwise do — creates all sorts of new perspectives and insights that can be applied to a variety of fields.

I’m a huge believer that the depth of one’s innovation is dramatically enhanced by spending time in other fields to see how they operate. I’m constantly telling people that a year of service is not just for people who want a career in non-profits, education, community development, etc. Making the case to do a year of service to someone whose first passion is busines is often a challenge. Not because they are not compassionate, idealistic, or concerned citizens. Rather, I find many think that a year of service feels like they have derailed from the competitive track. We, service proponents, need to alter this perception.

Fred Smith’s story is a big help.

Near the end of this segment of the interview (min. 17), Charlie Rose asks Smith, “So you’d rather have a young man [at FedEx] who went to the Marines than a young man who went to business school?” Smith replies matter-of-factly, “I’d rather have a young man who went to the Marines then went to business school. That would be the best of all worlds.”

Watch the full interview here.

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Minnesota Knows How to Do It

We recently got word of exciting news coming out of Minnesota from the Minnesota Conservation Corps. It sounds almost definite that the state will eliminate the tax on the Segal Education Award given to AmeriCorps members after serving their term of service. Senator Tom Bakk and Representative Tom Rukavina were the chief authors of this bill. Nice work, fellas!

Eliminating the tax on the education award is gaining momentum in other states and on the federal level. Last week, Senator Dodd announced his intention to eliminate it federally. Watch his announcement here.

What other states are working on this? Any success stories? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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More Peace Corps Campaign

Last week, I attended an event hosted by “More Peace Corps” – a campaign to double the budget and number of volunteers in the Peace Corps.

Nearly 50 folks gathered at The New School in New York City to hear from Kevin Quigley, President of the National Peace Corps Association, and Rajeev Goyal, who is directing this campaign. As everyone went around the room introducing themselves and giving their brief vision for the Peace Corps, it is clear that alums and supporters are enthusiastic about taking action at this critical moment of need and opportunity.

As Sean and Matt travel the country on the National Service Express Tour, they are being met and generating the same excitement. It’s becoming increasingly clear: citizens’ support for service – be it national, international, public, or community – is absolutely incredible. However, now the challenge is to channel it into a powerful voice that can shape discourse in the public square and shape action of our leaders.

It is great to see the Peace Corps community gearing up to engage its community around the country and begin taking action.

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NYC Launch is building…

More and more organizations are joining the ServeNext NYC launch!  We’re excited by the response.  A great event is in the works…more details to come soon.  Event is on Thursday, April 24th.  This is a picture of all the people heading to the event.

Also, a little quick math…Matt and Sean have traveled roughly 1,602 miles so far: Manchester > Boston > Cleveland > Columbus > Minneapolis.

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Remember 41

Yesterday evening in Manchester, New Hampshire 41 residents participated in the launch of the National Service Express Tour and the launch of the New Hampshire Chapter of ServeNext. It’s exciting that they attended the event, for sure. But what I think is more exciting is what 41 will turn into from here. If you ask me, it’s “future in the making!”

This group represents citizens who are willing to take action and have a “say” in our politics so that national service programs begin receiving more support from our elected leaders and can be a national priority. A major problem across the country is that citizens are acting like “consumers” of politics and of civic discourse, instead of participating in the process and being heard through collective action. Too many people seem to think that public policy and politics are decisions left for experts, the wealthy, and the well-connected. This group of 41 knows better.

They realize that by coming together, advocating for a common-good issue, and taking collective action that they can have a ton of influence to ensure that national service becomes a national priority. However, it starts in their community where they will work to build support amongst New Hampshire leaders. As that 41 grows, as they succeed in New Hampshire, imagine what will happen across the country.

The National Service Express is continuing on today where it will launch our Boston Chapter. And then on to Cleveland and Columbus. After Ohio, the tour will traverse the country, launching a total of 30 ServeNext Chapters to advocate urgently in 2008 for bold national service expansion.

Remember 41 not because they kicked-off the bus tour. Remember that number because we are going to witness across the country how groups of citizens can be incredibly effective participants in determining our national priorities. In fact, don’t just witness it…join it!

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