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Uncovering the Heart of FedEx

May 21, 2012

By Lisa Lisson, president, FedEx Express Canada

When I was first approached to be part of the first Undercover Boss Canada television show, I had a few reservations. I was primarily concerned about how employees would react. I’ve been with FedEx Canada for 20 years and have spent a lot of time in the field so I really had to weigh what employees would think of me going undercover.

I spoke with other CEOs who had done the program and they all said it was the best experience of their lives. In the end, it turned out to be the same for me. It gave me an opportunity to get to know the person behind the uniform in a unique way.

I’m not a huge TV watcher, but I researched this show extensively because I wanted to make sure it was the real deal and I can tell you, it is! But it was also completely unscripted and the itinerary was kept secret from me until the last possible moment. I had no idea where I was going each day, what role I’d be doing or who I would meet.

I was disguised as Suzanne Thole, a woman found on for a documentary about returning to the workforce in an unfamiliar job. I had to learn and master tasks that can often take weeks or months to perfect. No small challenge.

Aside from the physical demands of these jobs, I had to quickly learn the PowerPad, which I’d never used before. Our couriers work the PowerPad like it’s second nature. I wasn’t quite as adept! I have a whole new admiration for the work our employees do.

Going undercover was a life-changing experience for me on so many levels but, more importantly, it reinforced my strong belief in the importance of being a leader who knows the frontline. Unless you walk in someone else’s shoes and experience what they do, you never actually know. I encourage every FedEx manager – in fact, any manager of any company – to get out on the front line and burn the shoe leather. Go and spend a day doing what your employees do and experience what they experience day in and day out. And do it often.

I always say that it’s my front line teams who create my “to-do” list. So many innovative and creative ideas come from this team and it’s because they’re out there, every single day, talking to customers, seeing first-hand what’s working and what isn’t. They see clearly where changes can be made to improve service and the overall customer experience and it was great to be in their shoes for a few days.

I take a lot of memories from my Undercover Boss Canada experience. I’ve made life-long friends in Diana Takacs, Rob Dale, Kathy Beckstead and Mark Armstrong. The passion they have for their jobs is inspiring.

You know – if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. And you’ll see on the show that Diana, Rob, Kathy and Mark love what they do.

And so do I.

Tune in to Undercover Boss Abroad on Thursday, May 24th at 8:00 pm ET on TLC to watch Lisa Lisson in action.


    MayLyn says:

    I wish I could be able to watch you Lisa Lisson, but I do not have TLC on my TV, so this is very disapointing! I’m hoping that maybe I can watch it on U tube or something online! Let me know please! I want to watch it so bad!

    Steve Reynolds says:

    Awesome, Lisa. True words! We look forward to watching it down here in Memphis!

    Jason says:

    I’ll will be atching from Trinidad also!!

    philippe peloquin says:

    j ai adorer under cover boss. mais lisa devrais venir under cover dans plusieurs station pour voir le deroulement, specialement a ymx sa serai un plaisir de discuter avec la quel puisse voir ici au quebec.

    Cleo D'Souza says:

    This is just awesome. I love the show and recently wondered if we would ever have a Fedex Executive on the show. So glad to see it happen. I will definitely be looking out for this come May 24th.

    Bern Betrand says:

    This is awesome. Lisa, we are looking forward to watching in Philadelphia.

    noreen wesolek says:

    As a manager in FedEx TechConnect, I cna’t wait to see the show!

    Robert Miller says:

    Thank you Lisa from FXO USA. I wish more executives in our company would do this on a regular basis. It makes too much sense these days. I will be watching for sure!

    nancy landman says:

    i have watched this show but did not get to see this one is it possible to watch it and i feel that all mgrs should do the jobs of crr and csa’s. have always wanted to see fedex on it and now i missed it love what you said and your inspiring to me.

    Felix says:

    (If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life) WOW!!! It’s exactly how I feel also, I may get critized but it’s the way i feel also. Way to step up to the plate Lisa. BZ

    Beverly Smith-Weil says:

    Awesome, I can’t wait to see the show. I love my job as a manager for the CEN, I Love my Boss Terri, I Love my peers, I Love my Employees, I LOVE WORKING for FEDEX.

    Deborah Simon says:

    Just wanted to say wonderful and I can not wait to see the show!

    Corrado Gatti says:

    I’m an OPS Manager in Switzerland and saw a lot of Undercover Boss series here in Europe.I only can reinforce all upper Managment to go out in the field like Lisa did and i’m sure they will never forget this experience.
    This is one of the effectives methods to find out what really goes on behind the scenes.
    And like all others Employee around the world we also are proud to work for FedEx and with this positive what ever it takes spirit we will continue to offer the best service ever.

    Paul Weldele says:

    I have the show set to record just in case the planning for my daughter’s wedding gets in the way this evening. I have been waiting to watch this since February when I first heard you went undercover.

    Cicero Albuquerque says:

    This is a great example and a living proof of true leadership, and I’m very proud to be part of this great company!

    katie says:

    I think undercover boss should come out to so cal in the inland impire.. ontrt is a good spot to start.. 🙂

    Melissa R. says:

    I cannot wait to watch it on TIVO. I will be working FTN FDA Memphis while it is on TV. Undercover Boss is my absolute favorite show!

    Maria Garza says:

    OMG LISA…! just watched the show. I cried more than you. FX Employees, WE ROCK…!

    TruthBlogger says:

    Lisa, your inovative leadership to go undercover was outstanding and your compassion for your FedEx employees brought tears to my eyes. I’m sorry for your loss of your husband and pray the Lord will continue to bless you and your family.

    Craig Ford says:

    Great job Lisa! Bravo Zulu! I believe this was a great opportunity for the world to see behind the scenes of FedEx and the PEOPLE that deliver the “World on Time” everyday! I hope more executives will take your lead and experience the frontline, not because they will be on a national TV show, but because I believe it would make them better leaders!

    jane Schumacher says:

    Absolutely… Positively hit it on the Head!!! A wonderful showcase of what truely Makes FedEx different from the Competition… Our People!!! Very Proud to be part of the FedEx Family.. Way to Go FedEx Canada!!!

    jane Schumacher says:

    Absolutely, Positively hit the nail right on the Head!!! This showcased Exactly what makes FedEx different from everyone else; Our People!!! Awesome Job Team Canada FedEx. I’m very proud to be part of the FedEx Family for the last 20 Years!!!! Way to go; you’ve made us Proud.

    Chris says:

    Wow! I’ve never thought of Undercover Boss as a “moving” show, but this episode had me in tears. I’ve heard Lisa speak before. She’s very motivational and genuine.

    The teams she worked with on the show epitomize the Purple Promise!

    Nicki Huber says:

    I watched the show last night and I was equally as touched. Lisa, you did an amazing job. Thank you so much for realizing that management should walk in the shoes of those they manage. TWO THUMBS UP! we are FEDEXellent!!!

    Michelle Alvarez says:

    Great job Lisa. Way to follow the P-S-P philosophy: Take care of our people; they, in turn, will deliver the impeccable service demanded by our customers, who will reward us with the profitability necessary to secure our future.

    Kandi Tippit says:

    Lisa – Awesome job – that was such an incredible episode – I cried right along with you. I have to tell you being with FedEx Services 30+ years we have so many people that are dedicated we are truly an amazing family. I know this was difficult for you as you had to relieve some of your pain…but you did a great job!!!!

    William says:

    It was definately not what I expected. I watched it with my wife and both of us sat there with tears in our eyes. I truely feel Blessed to be a part of the FedEx Family for the past 27 years. Way to go FedEX Canada!!!! Great job Ms.Lisson,keep up the good work!!!!

    Michael says:

    I am an avid watcher of the show, and despite my FedEx bias, there was a different tone for this inspiring episode. Many companies go undercover and see the problems and frustrations of the front line employees, but in this instance the fact that FedEx is a great company to work for and that we all share a common passion shone bright. We Are FedEx!

    Vani Prasad says:

    I watched the show last night and was very impressed by the whole thing. I was moved by your story Lisa and other team members in the show. I wish all of you the best in the future. Great Job!!!

    Clement Bento says:

    Great job Lisa, My wife and i both work for fedex in hawaii and we both have 22, 23 years. We both we touched by the show and how we at fedex will do anything no matter waht our personnel life have in store. Fedex means alot to all of us and you just showed we need to get back to the p-s-p philosophy.We love working for FEDEX HAWAII.

    Jake F says:

    I saw the show last night and it was unbelievable. I loved that Lisa was able to see and understand what we go through as couriors. If it’s on again. I will watch again.

    Kim Kidd says:

    Loved the episode! You did a great job in showing the People side of our company. Really liked how you rewarded our employees in such a positive way. Keep up the good work! FAYE/0283

    Glenda says:

    I have never watched Undercover Boss but will start after watching the Fedex episode. It’s great that Lisa had the courage to see what really goes on everyday for Fedex employees. I’ve always felt lucky to be a Fedex employee but now even more!

    stella winfield says:

    I think it was great that this was a great opportunity for this lady of Ca. to go under cover… I wish mr.s.c.who is the man who does the counter intellegence for all the service agents would do that but his face is well known. Also Mr. Fred is too.but he started this company and knows what is is to be out there in the front lines as well as being in the service for our country…I am proud to be a part of this corporation… and only have 2 years before I am able to retire. I do enjoy my job as a csa but not when we are short handed; but that is another story.
    Thanks.Stella Winfield/EVVA

    Rich says:

    I have been a fan of Undercover Boss since the show started and have watched many episodes. This was by far one of the best I had seen. Lisa was very genuine and sincere in her appreciation for the job the front line employees perform and it was clearly that she was emotionally moved and changed forever due to her experience. I had no idea what she went through on a personal level with the death of her husband at such a young age. In the face of tragedy Lisa has managed to triumph. What a great accomplishment. I loved the dedication of the employees that Lisa worked with also. Truly all delivering on the Purple Promise. BZ to Lisa and the four featured employees!!

    Kristina McDaniel says:

    Lisa, I listened to your story about your husband and my blood ran cold. Two years ago last February, I was living with two brothers, one of whom I had dated for many years. I was asleep early one February morning when I heard a thump. I woke up, knowing something was wrong. He had fallen against the bedroom wall as I discovered after I turned on the light. He looked at me, and was gone. They worked on him for two hours, but we knew… It was a heart attack, he had a defect in his heart that MRIs, EKGs and various other tests various surgeries, he had diabetes and all five toes on his right foot had been removed, had not detected. How do you go on from there? I asked that. I moved, closer to work, I have since started back to school. When I heard your story, I knew I wasn’t alone. That, someone else, knew that terrifying thump in the night. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Jim Rockwell says:

    Lisa- Thank you from FedEx SupplyChain-OH and BZ for delivering the Purple Promise as you placed yourself closer to our team members and in situations where you could gain first hand knowledge of continuous improvement initiatives. You are a true leader! I have viewed many of the Undercover Boss episodes and was very proud of how you executed our P-S-P strategy–it is evident that you live it everyday. BZ Lisa.

    Lisa says:

    Thank you everyone for your very kind words regarding Undercover Boss! I am thrilled you all enjoyed the episode as much as I loved doing it and that it made you extremely proud to work at FedEx…just like me.

    Be well. Be safe.


    Elisabeth de Zagon says:

    Anywhere online we can watch the show? Sounds great!

    James Anderson says:

    @ Elisabeth de Zagon,

    If you go to TLC’s website (link below), you can sign up for an email alert for when the episode is aired next. Hope this helps!


    Jason Adams says:

    I watched this program and it was very interesting and inspiring, I represent POSA. Keep up the good work!!!

    Dillon says:

    I hope some of the show makes it on Frontline next month.

    Lisa A says:

    Lisa, I thoroughly enjoyed watching you on Undercover Boss Canada this evening. You are an amazing person and a true inspiration. I was so impressed by your positivity, strength, character and personal accomplishments. Congratulations to you on your obviously well deserved success!
    Your newest fan,
    Lisa A

    Maurice Levy says:

    It is great to see you blog posted and I applaud your courage! Itis so encouraging to see the purple spirit still alive and well!
    I worked for company for 12 years quite a few of which were for Dave Bronczek directly in Canada and actually started FEDEX Canada.. I read your blog with keen interest and 25 years after leaving FEDEX I am still often asked about my time with the company which I fondly recall as well as so many of the valuable business lessons that have stayed with me for my entire career.
    Best wishes for continued success

    PETER says:

    you really moved me, had tears in my eyes regards and god bless you .peter UK

    Rakesh R Gunda says:

    This is great and great work.Please post the link.

    Lisa keep it up.

    Cheryl-Ann Orr says:

    Hello Lisa.

    We finally were able to watch the FedEx Canada Undercover Boss episode last evening. I must say my boyfriend and I were moved to tears . . . not only for your kind, kind and generous heart . . . or for your empathy for your employees . . . but also for yourself and the hardships you have had to endure.

    You are an incredible woman, mother, daughter, employer, human being.

    God Bless.

    Wilma Pellow says:

    Wow being in South Africa I was blessed enough to only watch the episode last night and I must say I am a truly blessed and proud FedEx employee and Lisa is a blessing to this organisation showing how FedEx look after their employees and how they care. Lisa you made me proud to be a FedEx employee. Today I am working with new warmth in my heart “Proudly FedEx”.

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