Sam Walton, the inspired leader of Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, was the embodiment of the American ‘everyman’.

 

Although he was named the richest man in America by Forbes magazine in 1985, a title he held until he died in 1992, he never understood the importance others placed on money.
Certainly, money was a good yardstick of success. But that’s not what gave Walton or those who worked at Wal-Mart the feeling of success.

 

It was people Walton valued above all else. People.


‘Look after people and people will look after you’ was his belief.

 

Everything that Walton and Wal-Mart did proved it. In the early days, for example, Walton insisted on showing up for work on Saturdays out of fairness to his store employees who had to work on weekends. He remembered birthdays and anniversaries and even that a cashier’s mother had just undergone surgery.

 

He chastised his executives for driving expensive cars. ‘Why do I drive a pickup truck?’ he would ask. ‘What am I supposed to haul my dogs around in, a Rolls Royce?’ Often seen wearing his tweed jacket and a trucker’s cap, Walton was the expression of those he aimed to serve – the average-Joe American.

 

Wal-Mart never went through a split under Sam Walton’s command because Walton never forgot where he came from. His empire was built with ‘good old-fashioned elbow grease.’ He turned a single dime store in a cotton town into a chain of retail stores across America and in 15 international markets. His company was beloved by employees, customers and communities.

 

Walton learned from everyone in his stores. He loved to turn up at 4 am in the truck drivers’ break room with a bunch of doughnuts and just sit there for a couple of hours talking to the drivers. He believed that ‘great ideas come from everywhere if you just listen and look for them.’


‘We’re all working together, that’s the secret.’

 

Source: Start with Why, Simon Senek; Sam Walton: Made in America, Sam Walton