Monday, June 23, 2008

Behind Sam Walton: the founder of the world’s biggest company – Wal-Mart

I just read the famous autobiography of Sam Walton - 'Made in America' . Here is a small book review/note that I have made for my readers.

Walton takes the reader from the days when he sold newspapers and magazine subscriptions at the age of 10 to his last days when Wal-Mart was a thousand stores strong. He had always been hard-working and economical: he paid for full college fees on his own, helped on his family farm too, even waiting tables in exchange for a meal and sleeping in sleeping bags against hotel rooms. Gave up the prospects of joining post-graduate college to being a management trainee at J C Penny where he discovered his love for retailing. Subsequently he spent 3 years (1942-45) in the US Army before opting to start a Ben Franklin franchise in 1945. He worked day in and day out, and after learning the tricks of trade, and also his innovative methods, he set up Wal-Mart stores in 1962.

His story is about making a commitment, a commitment to be the largest retailer in the world and to share profits with employees, treating them as your own and motivating them. Walton mentions that the only way reason Wal-Mart stayed ahead of Competition was the relationship and communication skills he and his managers shared and were able to enjoy life-long.

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going" Sam Walton controlled expenses better than the competition, exceeded customer expectations. He advised: "Swim upstream", Go the other way, ignore the conventional wisdom and do the opposite of what everyone's doing - this is the only way you are going to be successful in life.

The best thing I liked about the book and the man was that Walton does a clear job of telling a nice story of how he built Wal-Mart. It's very enlightening to hear him speak of his failures, how he fought them, his invention of new business practices (most of his best ideas borrowed from every store he visited in the world) and his straightforwardness and truthfulness. Even after being adjudged the richest man in America in 1985, he confessed that he still drove a pick-up truck and would pick up a dollar note if he saw it was fallen on the street!

In summary, I recommend the book for all knowledge enthusiasts, and persons relating to shopkeeping and retailing/supply chain management also for business/economic students. I'd like to hear your views too! post a comment please.

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