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#354 Sam Walton: The Inside Story of America's Richest Man
June 29th, 2024 | E354

What I learned from reading Sam Walton: The Inside Story of America's Richest Man by Vance Trimble. 


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(2:30) Sam Walton built his business on a very simple idea: Buy cheap. Sell low. Every day. With a smile.

(2:30) People confuse a simple idea with an ordinary person. Sam Walton was no ordinary person.

(4:30) Traits Sam Walton had his entire life: A sense of duty. Extreme discipline. Unbelievable levels of endurance.

(5:30) His dad taught him the secret to life was work, work, work.

(5:30) Sam felt the world was something he could conquer.

(6:30) The Great Depression was a big leveler of people. Sam chose to rise above it. He was determined to be a success.

(11:30) You can make a lot of different mistakes and still recover if you run an efficient operation. Or you can be brilliant and still go out of business if you’re too inefficient. — Sam Walton: Made In America by Sam Walton. (Founders #234)

(15:30) He was crazy about satisfying customers.

(17:30) The lawyer saw Sam clenching and unclenching his fists, staring at his hands. Sam straightened up. “No,” he said. “I’m not whipped. I found Newport, and I found the store. I can find another good town and another store. Just wait and see!”

(21:30) Sometimes hardship can enlighten and inspire. This was the case for Sam Walton as he put in hours and hours of driving Ozark mountain roads in the winter of 1950. But that same boredom and frustration triggered ideas that eventually brought him billions of dollars. (This is when he learns to fly small planes. Walmart never happens otherwise)

(33:30) At the start we were so amateurish and so far behind K Mart just ignored us. They let us stay out here, while we developed and learned our business. They gave us a 10 year period to grow.

(37:30) And so how dedicated was Sam to keeping costs low? Walmart is called that in part because fewer letters means cheaper signs on the outside of a store.

(42:30) Sam Walton is tough, loves a good fight, and protects his territory.

(43:30) His tactics later prompted them to describe Sam as a modern-day combination of Vince Lombardi (insisting on solid execution of the basics) and General George S. Patton. (A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.)

(43:30) Hardly a day has passed without Sam reminding an employee: "Remember Wal-Mart's Golden Rule: Number one, the customer Is always right; number two, if the customer isn't right, refer to rule number one.”

(46:30) The early days of Wal-Mart were like the early days of Disneyland: "You asked the question, What was your process like?' I kind of laugh because process is an organized way of doing things. I have to remind you, during the 'Walt Period' of designing Disneyland, we didn't have processes. We just did the work. Processes came later. All of these things had never been done before. Walt had gathered up all these people who had never designed a theme park, a Disneyland.

So we're in the same boat at one time, and we figure out what to do and how to do it on the fly as we go along with it and not even discuss plans, timing, or anything.

We just worked and Walt just walked around and had suggestions. — Disney's Land: Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World by Richard Snow. (Founders #347)

(1:04:30) Sam Walton said he took more ideas from Sol Price than any other person. —Sol Price: Retail Revolutionary by Robert Price. (Founders #304)

(1:07:30) Nothing in the world is cheaper than a good idea without any action behind it.

(1:07:30)  Sam Walton: Made In America  (Founders #234)


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