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Notes – Sam Walton’s “Made in America”

These are notes I used for a talk I gave on Sam Walton’s business principles as evidenced in his book Made in America:

  1. “COMMIT to your business. Believe in it more than anybody else.” If you love your work, other people will sense that, including co-workers and customers, and catch the passion from you, like a fever.
  2. PARTNERSHIP. Take MENTAL OWNERSHIP of your business, and treat the people around you at work as valued partners in your enterprise. Seek input from others, work together to achieve common goals and make decisions that you’d be happy with over the long-term, which will help you accrue the benefits over time.
  3. MOTIVATE your partners. Find different ways to keep score and new ways to challenge each other to new personal best records. Encourage your partners to ever greater heights and they will do the same for you.
  4. COMMUNICATE openly. Share information with your partners about your business and ask for information about theirs. The more everyone knows, the more able they are to act to the benefit of the entire company.
  5. APPRECIATE everything your partners do. Sharing praise and congratulations costs us nothing, but it is worth a lot to the people who receive it and will make you feel better for having shared it, too.
  6. CELEBRATE successes and don’t take yourself too seriously. Find what is funny about your failures. Have fun. At the end of the day, it’s only work and you’re only human. Such enthusiasm and energy is engaging to all.
  7. LISTEN to everyone in your company. Everyone has a different and potentially valuable perspective, from managers to cashiers, sales people to valets. Everyone sees a different part of the business and a different side of the customer experience. By getting the people you work with talking you might learn valuable information about how you could improve your customer service and meet the needs of more customers to hit more of your goals and make more money in the process.
  8. EXCEED your customer’s expectations, this is what will bring them back again and again. Have a personal standard, explain it to your customers and apologize and make it right if you ever fail to live up to it. Think about how you’d handle situations that arise if your personal motto was “Satisfaction Guaranteed.” You don’t have to do anything wild, you just have to do a little bit more than your customers were expecting.
  9. CONTROL your processes to avoid costly mistakes. Even if you do not carry a personal Profit and Loss statement with cash expenses, you can still reduce your profitability by making choices that are inconsistent with your goals and less efficient than following a consistent, well thought out process. Create a discipline that accrues every small advantage in your favor and avoids needless leaks that cost you deals and gross. These little errors can add up to thousands of dollars and hundreds of potential customer relationships missed over time!
  10. SWIM UPSTREAM. Sometimes you’ve got to go the other way to find your niche. Be ready to see people waving you down, telling you you’re going the wrong way. But realize finding what makes you unique and sticking to it is what gives you your edge, and gets others to follow you, whether they’re customers, co-workers or your family and friends.

Quote: “My life has been a tradeoff. If I wanted to reach the goals I set for myself, I had to get at it and stay at it every day. I had to think about it all the time. I had to get up every day with my mind set on improving something. I was driven by a desire to always be on the top of the heap. But in the larger sense, did I make the right choices? I can honestly say that if I had the choices to make all over again, I would make just about the same ones.”

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