When Roger Frock called to tell me he was writing a book about the early days of Federal Express, I felt that finally the right man had stepped forward to chronicle this dramatic bit of business history. From late 1973 to the spring of 1978, as head of the board of directors’ executive committee, I participated in most aspects of the company’s business during the startup. In those early years, Federal Express hovered on the verge of bankruptcy. Murphy’s Law, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” certainly applied. Finally, a strong, growing, and profitable business emerged and we turned the corner. As one of my partners retrospectively exclaimed, it was like taking a supertanker at full speed over a reef with a quarter inch to ...

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