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#234 Sam Walton: Made In America
February 28th, 2022 | E234

What I learned from rereading Sam Walton: Made In America by Sam Walton.


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[1:56] The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone. (Founders #179)

[5:45] We just got after it and stayed after it.

[6:06] Foxes and Hedgehogs

[6:39] Hedgehogs may not be as clever as foxes but they obsessively measure and track everything about their business, and over time, they acquire deep, relevant knowledge and expertise. Their single minded approach may appear risky at times but they are conservative by nature. Hedgehogs don’t speculate or make foolish bets. If all their eggs are in that one proverbial basket, they follow Mark Twain’s advice – and watch that basket very carefully.

[7:17] The thing with Hedgehogs is that they never give up. They keep at it – and they don’t ever get bored because they just love what they do – and they have a lot of fun along the way.

[7:28] Hedgehogs are the ones who build great, lasting companies. As entrepreneurs, they are the rarest of breeds – those who can start something anew, make it work, stick with it, and build something special, and ultimately, inspire others along the way, with their determination, dedication and commitment.

[8:49] At first, we amazed ourselves. And before too long, we amazed everybody else too.

[9:26] Think about how crazy this is. He died weeks after that writing this. His last days were spent categorizing and organizing his knowledge so future generations can benefit.

[12:32] Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger(Founders #90)

[12:56] "It's quite interesting to think about Walmart starting from a single store in Arkansas – against Sears, Roebuck with its name, reputation and all of its billions. How does a guy in Bentonville, Arkansas, with no money, blow right by Sears? And he does it in his own lifetime – in fact, during his own late lifetime because he was already pretty old by the time he started out with one little store. He played the chain store game harder and better than anyone else. Walton invented practically nothing. But he copied everything anybody else ever did that was smart – and he did it with more fanaticism. So he just blew right by them all. —Charlie Munger

[17:11] What motivates the man is the desire to absolutely be on the top of the heap.

[17:32] Practice your craft so much that you're the best in the world at it and the money will take care of itself.

[18:44] We exist to provide value to our customers.

[21:18] A Conversation with Paul Graham

[22:32] It never occurred to me that I might lose; to me, it was almost as if I had a right to win. Thinking like that often seems to turn into sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

[26:42] Time to Make the Donuts: The Founder of Dunkin Donuts Shares an American Journey by William Rosenberg. (Founders #231)

[29:35] It didn’t take me long to start experimenting—that’s just the way I am and always have been.

[30:56] Do things that other people are not doing.

[33:13] The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley by Jimmy Soni. (Founders #233)

[33:41] I think my constant fiddling and meddling with the status quo may have been one of the biggest contributions to the later success of Wal Mart.

[34:10] Our money was made by controlling expenses. I gotta read that again because it's so important. Our money was made by controlling expenses.

[37:49] Sam Walton: The Inside Story of America's Richest Man (Founders #150)

[38:37] I’ve always thought of problems as challenges, and this one wasn’t any different. I didn’t dwell on my disappointment. The challenge at hand was simple enough to figure out: I had to pick myself up and get on with it, do it all over again, only even better this time.

[42:47] Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy by Isadore Sharp. (Founders #184)

[45:12] The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie by Andrew Carnegie (Founders #74)

[47:08] Sol Price: Retail Revolutionary & Social Innovator by Robert E. Price. (Founders #107)

[49:56] Sam had a really simple hypothesis for the first Wal Mart: We were trying to find out if customers in a town of 6,000 people would come to our kind of a barn and buy the same merchandise strictly because of price. The answer was yes.

[52:19] I have always been a Maverick who enjoys shaking things up and creating a little anarchy.

[54:23] In business we often find that the winning system goes almost ridiculously far in maximizing and/or minimizing one or a few variables. —Charlie Munger

[55:02] He does something really smart here. And this is something I missed the first time I read the book. He finds a way to force himself to know the numbers for every single store.

[56:13] Distant Force: A Memoir of the Teledyne Corporation and the Man Who Created It by Dr. George Roberts. (Founders #110)

[58:11] Driven From Within by Michael Jordan and Mark Vancil. (Founders #213)  I’m not so dominant that I can’t listen to creative ideas coming from other people. Successful people listen. Those who don’t listen, don’t survive long. —Michael Jordan

[58:43] We paid absolutely no attention whatsoever to the way things were supposed to be done, you know, the way the rules of retail said it had to be done.

[1:03:15] Estée: A Success Story by Estée Lauder. (Founders #217)

[1:04:00] One thing I never did—which I’m really proud of—was to push any of my kids too hard. I knew I was a fairly overactive fellow, and I didn’t expect them to try to be just like me.

[1:06:38] I was never in anything for the short haul.

[1:10:36] Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby. (Founders #212) Like so many NBA players, Drexler was operating mostly off his great store of talent, absent any serious attention to the important details of the game. Jordan had been surprised to learn how lazy many of his Olympic teammates were about practice, how they were deceiving themselves about what the game required.

[1:11:56] And you can think about Sam constantly learning from everybody else, visiting stores —that is a form of practice. Every single craft has a form of practice. It just is not as obvious as it is in sports.

[1:13:26] He proceeds to extract every piece of information in your possession.

[1:15:37]  He has just been a master of taking the best of everything everybody else is doing and adapting it to his own needs.

[1:18:52] We were serious operators who were in it for the long haul, that we had a disciplined financial philosophy, and that we had growth on our minds.

[1:19:54] Most people seem surprised to learn that I've never done much investing in anything except Walmart.

[1:20:42] He's like I just figured out the Walmart's worked. And then all I did was focus on making more of them. You don't have to over-complicate it.

[1:23:04] If you ask me if I'm an organized person, I would say flat out, no, not at all. Being organized would really slow me down. (Optimize for flexibility)

[1:24:26] The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: God Doesn't Think He's Larry Ellison by Mike Wilson (Founders #127): My view is different. My view is that there are only a handful of things that are really important, and you devote all your time to those and forget everything else. If you try to do all thousand things, answer all thousand phone calls, you will dilute your efforts in those areas that are really essential

[1:26:15]  I think one of Sam's greatest strengths is that he is totally unpredictable. He is always his own person. He is totally independent in his thinking.

[1:26:45] If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. —Bruce Lee

[1:28:40] You can’t possibly know the TAM. You are in the middle of inventing the TAM.

[1:30:08] There is no speed limit by Derek Sivers

[1:31:54] Built From Scratch: How A Couple of Regular Guys Grew The Home Depot from Nothing to $30 Billion (Founders #45)

[1:41:35]  I like to keep everybody guessing. I don't want our competitors getting too comfortable with feeling that they can predict what we're going to do next.

[1:42:25] He ties that investment int technology with the compounding savings and over the long-term, he's going to destroy his competition just off this one metric alone.

[1:43:39] Big Brown: The Untold Story of UPS by Greg Niemann. (Founders #192)

[1:47:56] Sam’s 10 Rules for Building A Business

[1:48:04] One thing I don’t even have on my list is “work hard.” If you don’t know that already, or you’re not willing to do it, you probably won’t be going far enough to need my list anyway.

[1:48:51] Commit to your business. Believe in it more than anybody else. I think I overcame every single one of my personal shortcomings by the sheer passion I brought to my work.

[1:50:54] Control your expenses better than your competition. This is where you can always find the competitive advantage. For twenty-five years running—long before Wal-Mart was known as the nation’s largest retailer—we ranked number one in our industry for the lowest ratio of expenses to sales. 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.


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