Sam Walton: Made In America

This book is a must read for any aspiring or current business owner.  I read it cover to cover in a few days, and I will read it again every few years.  This single book might be worth more than everything I learned in my MBA combined; it is that good.

Sam Walton was an absolute genius at the following critical success components in business:

1. Understand Your Customer

Money is made by creating value for others and then trading that value for their money.  Understanding your customer (chosen benefactor of the value) is absolutely fundamental.  Sam understood small town America better than anyone.

2. Create Value for Your Customer

Trying to make money is like pushing on a rope.  Focus on creating as much value as possible for as many people as possible.  Making money is and always will be a side effect of creating massive value (there are other options, but I would call them taking money and speculation/gambling).

3. Learn from Others

Sam tells a story that I absolutely love.  He buys his first store without knowing much of anything (and he gets swindled).  He finds himself right across the street from the most successful store in town.  What does he do?  He spends all his time in his competitor’s store picking up ideas and implementing them in his own store!  Sam has probably been in more stores than any human being who ever lived or ever will live.  He never stopped looking for and discovering new ideas from others.

4. Recognize and Recruit Top Talent

Sam was able to immediately recognize winners, and he quickly recruited them for his team.  Every successful business is built on world-class “A players.”  The quality of people determine a business’s success.  I would rather own a business with A players and a mediocre business plan than have the best business plan in the world but try to execute it with mediocre people.

5. The Root Word of Culture is Cult

Life is a believing contest.  If you believe and are in love with your vision of the future more strongly than others believe theirs, others will adopt your vision as their own.  When people believe and fall in love with your vision, they will make that vision reality.

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. 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 you 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.”

– Sam Walton

Sam Walton was a genius and self-made billionaire.  If you have not read his autobiography yet, what on earth are you waiting for?

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“Winning:” My Definition

winning heroes story inspiration

Winning has nothing to do with beating someone else. Winning is not anything external at all. It is an internal satisfaction measured within yourself and has nothing to do with other’s perceptions of your achievements. Success is giving your all. The purpose in life is not to get ahead of others but to get ahead of yourself, to break your own records, to work with more force than ever before. The traditional end–wealth or getting first place–only serves as a navigational tool, a marker to give the process direction. The end for me is greater depth and breadth of character. My aim is to become as internally knowledgeable and as externally aware as possible. The process, the experience, the struggle, the hard-won lessons, these are the ends in themselves.

I paraphrased this from Above All Else: The Everest Dream.

Growing up, I LOVED to read as a child.  I actually read too much; I would read 10-12 hours each day.  I loved reading stories about heroes accomplishing amazing feats in extremely difficult situations.  I imagined I was a hero in my own story that someone would read someday.  Heroes do great things.  They fight through impossible odds.  They never give up.  They never give in to pain, weakness, or fear.  Those stories inspired me and drove me to the success I have achieved.  Throughout the years, I have always tried to live up to the standards of my heroes.

Your life is your story.

Someday people will read your story. They will cry your tears. They will celebrate your triumphs.  When you are tired and down; when you think you cannot possibly go on, people are turning the pages hoping breathlessly that you will find the strength to keep going. You will succeed; you have to succeed because there is so much of your story left, and millions will be inspired by the time they finish the last page.

Inspiration is fundamental to achieving success.  If you are in need of an inspirational boost, I recommend Above All Else: The Everest Dream.


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