Sam Walton Made in America Review
Sam Walton was the CEO and founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club. His family is the richest family in the world and is worth more than Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined. After Sam Walton found out he had cancer he wrote this book to share his story and wisdom. Here are a few things I learned.
Sam Walton was a humble man
Sam never expected Wal-Mart to be as successful as it was.
Ferold: Well, now, Sam, how big do you really want this company to be? What is your plan?
Sam: Ferold, we’re going to take it as it comes, and if we can grow with our own money, we’ll maybe add a store or two.
Sam was never “too good” for anybody. Even though Sam Walton was the big CEO, he would bring doughnuts to the truck drivers and sit and talk with them for hours. He found that the truck drivers weren’t afraid to tell him the truth.
One of the reasons Sam copied other stores ideas is because he was humble enough to realize that other people had better ideas than him.
“Most everything I’ve done I’ve copied from someone else.”
Probably the biggest takeaway I got from this book was the extent to which Sam would study his competition. In the early stages of Wal-Mart he would travel to every store he could possibly find with his tape recorder and take notes.
Sam’s wife Helen describes the situation:
Of course, we always had to stop and look at stores, any kind of store, on the way to wherever we were headed. You know, we would go through a good town, and he knew about some store there. I would sit in the car with the kids, who of course, would say, ‘Oh no, Daddy, not another store…’ We just got used to it.
Even after Wal-Mart became super successful he would still go to stores to take notes.
As a matter of fact, one time Sam Walton was in a store in Brazil and he was crawling around on his hands and knees measuring the aisle widths for so long that he was arrested and sent to jail. (His friends later bailed him out.)
Sam Walton was a cheap man
Sam Walton grew up during the Great Depression and was always very tight with money. He always flew coach instead of first class. He drove an old pickup truck that he would use to drive around with his bird-dogs. He made his top executives sleep two to a room in cheap hotels.
Sam Walton was a hard worker
Here is one of my favorite passages in the book, by Gary Reinbroth, an early store manager of Wal-Mart, talking about their business trips to New York:
“We never finished up until about twelve-thirty at night, and we’d all go out for a beer except Mr. Walton. He’d say, ‘I’ll meet you for breakfast at six o’clock.’ And we’d say, ‘Mr. Walton, there’s no reason to meet that early. We can’t even get into the buildings that early.’ And he’d just say, ‘We’ll find something to do.’
The next morning he would talk some janitor or somebody into letting us in the building… Like I said, I think he was trying to make a point.”
Sam Walton was named The Richest Man In America from 1982 to 1988 by Forbes. Although he passed away in 1992, four of his family members still hold top spots on the Forbes list, each with a net worth of about 40 billion dollars each.
Sam is one of the most (if not the most) successful businessmen ever. Sam Walton Made In America is a book that not a lot of people have heard of, and is definitely worth checking out.