How FedEx's Founder Revolutionized Shipping With a Mediocre College Term Paper

In 1966, Frederick Smith predicted guaranteed overnight delivery

In October 1987, all eyes were on the small town of Midland, Texas, where an 18-month-old girl named Jessica McClure had fallen 22 feet to the bottom of an abandoned water well. Rescuers decided the only way to pull out “Baby Jessica” was to drill a parallel shaft through which they could pull her up, but even Texas oil country lacked the four-ton, high-press water drill required to cut through granite. Fortunately, the owners of a company in Tennessee did have such a drill to lend. They could have driven the rig down to Texas, but with no time to waste, there was really only one option.

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This story first appeared in the March 12, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.