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
I brought to my work. I don't know if you're born with this kind of
passion, or if you can learn it. But I do know you need it. If
love your work, you'll be out there every day trying to do it
the best you possibly can, and pretty soon everybody around will
catch the passion from you
like a fever.
Share your profits with all
your associates, and treat them as partners.
In turn, they will treat you as a partner, and
together you will all perform beyond your wildest expectations.
Remain a corporation and retain control if you like, but behave as a
servant leader in your partnership. Encourage your associates to
hold a stake in the company. Offer discounted stock, and grant them
stock for their retirement. It's the single best thing we ever did.
Motivate your partners.
Money and ownership alone aren't enough. Constantly, day by day,
think of new and more interesting ways to
and challenge your partners. Set high goals, encourage competition,
keep score. Make bets with outrageous payoffs. If things get
cross-pollinate; have managers
switch jobs with one another to
stay challenged. Keep everybody guessing as to what your next trick
is going to be. Don't become too predictable.
everything you possibly can to your partners.
The more they know, the more they'll understand. The more
they understand, the more they'll care. Once they care, there's no
stopping them. If you don't trust your associates to know what's
going on, they'll know you really don't consider them partners.
Information is power, and the gain you get from
empowering your associates
more than offsets the risk of informing your competitors.
Appreciate everything your
associates do for the business.
A paycheck and a stock option will buy one kind of loyalty. But
all of us like to be told how much somebody
appreciates what we do for them. We like to hear it often, and
especially when we have done something we're really proud of.
Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed,
sincere words of praise. They're absolutely free
and worth a fortune.
Celebrate your success.
Find some humor in your
Don't take yourself so seriously. Loosen up, and everybody around
you will loosen up.
always. When all else fails, put on a costume and sing a silly song.
Then make everybody else sing with you. Don't do a hula on Wall
Street. It's been done. Think up your own stunt. All of this is more
important, and more fun, than you think, and it really fools
competition. "Why should we take those cornballs at Wal-Mart
to everyone in your company and figure out ways to get them talking.
The folks on the front lines
the ones who actually talk to
are the only ones who really know what's going on out there. You'd
better find out what they know. This really is what
total quality is all about. To push
responsibility down in
ideas to bubble up within it, you must listen to what your
associates are trying to tell you.
If you do, they'll come back over and over. Give them what
and a little
Let them know you appreciate them. Make good on all your mistakes,
and don't make excuses
apologize. Stand behind everything you do. The two most important
words I ever wrote were on that first Wal-Mart sign: "Satisfaction
Guaranteed." They're still up there, and they have made all the
Control your expenses better than your
This is where you can always find the
For twenty-five years running
long before Wal-Mart was known as the nation's largest retailer
we've ranked No. 1 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.
Go the other way.
Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody else is doing it
one way, there's a good chance you can find your niche by going in
exactly the opposite direction. But be prepared for a lot of folks
to wave you down and tell you you're headed the wrong way. I guess
in all my years, what I heard more often than anything was: a town
of less than 50,000 population cannot support a discount store for