SAM WALTON – MADE IN AMERICA BOOK REVIEW/SUMMARY
Did you know that Walmart makes a profit of 1.8 million every hour?
How much do YOU make an hour?
This book is the story of how Sam Walton, a man without any retail experience became one of the richest person in the world…As of 2016, the Walton family is worth about 160 billion dollars…Which is equivalent to the total net worth of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Donald Trump COMBINED.
Don’t you think you could something from the man that started all of this?
Observe other people
If there is one big lessons I got from this book, it is this one: Good artists copy, great artists steal.
According to Walton,
“…most everything I’ve done I’ve copied from somebody else….”
The guy was obsessed with learning. He was always observing his competitors to know what they are doing right and how he can implement it in his own business.
Not only did he read every single retail publication he could get his hands on, but he learned consistently from his competitors. At some point, one of his competitor, John Dunham had a store right across the street from him and Sam would spy on him all the time to know exactly what he is doing. If John did something good, Sam would do the same thing but even better.
When people imagine extremely successful people like Sam Walton, they imagine geniuses solving extremely hard problems…And a few of them are, like Elon Musk, but most of them are simple folks working on simple problems. Everybody could have done what Sam Walton did. You don’t need to be a genius like Elon Musk to achieve what he did. Hell, he stole most of his ideas from other people!
He was so obsessed by what his competitors were doing that at some point, during a trop in Brazil, he got arrested because he was crawling around the floors of a retail store with a tape measure just to know how they were doing things over there….He was trying to figure out if they knew something that he didn’t know…That’s how obsessed Sam Walton was about improving.
At the time, everybody was displaying their items on wooden shelves, but Sam decided to switch to metal ones instead, thus saving enough to reduce prices even further. His goal was to offer the lowest price possible and he succeeded.
When you think about Walmart in your head, chances are high that you will think about low prices guaranteed. This is what Walmart is all about and none of this could have happened if Sam Walton wasn’t obsessed about always improving his store and always finding new ways to save money.
When Sam first started, he didn’t have any experience. That’s what’s great about this book…You can see his progression through the years and it is quite inspiring. He never stopped learning.
Even before personal computers came along, he felt that Walmart needed to move toward computerization. He enrolled in an IBM school for retailers in order to achieve this…Every single thing he could do to improve his store, he would do.
He would also to everything in his power to reduce the cost to the lowest point possible. He always tried to buy directly from the manufacturers, cutting out the middleman. If you buy goods at a high price, he said that “you’ve just bought someone else’s inefficiency.”
His strategy, which might seem obvious and common sense to you in 2016 but at that time it was not, was that you’d have higher profits from selling more things at a lower price, compared to selling fewer at a higher price.
The first Walmarts were ugly and all over the place, but because of the fact that the prices were about 20% less than the competitors, all of Sam’s stores were a huge success.
Sam Walton was really good at motivating people. He was actively working on how to improve his people skills.
“I learned early on that one of the secrets to campus leadership was the simplest thing of all: speak to people coming down the sidewalk before they speak to you. I did that in college. I did it when I carried my papers. I would always look ahead and speak to the person coming toward me. If I knew them, I would call them by name, but even if I didn’t I would still speak to them. Before long, I probably knew more students than anybody in the university, and they recognized me and considered me their friend.”
People skills are not only about how good you are at conversation…People skills are also about how good you are at motivating people and Sam was great at this.
He started to call his employees “associates” after he saw another store doing the same thing (again, observing and implementing other people’s ideas). The main idea being it was to make them feel as they are part of the business. And they actually do, because employees can buy stocks in the company. In fact, the early employees made a lot of money with their Walmart stocks!
Sam felt that the way you threat your employees is extremely important because if you don’t treat them well, chances are high that your employees won’t treat the customers right. Again, this seems like a really simple principle but to be able to actually implement it is another story.
The Sam Walton is truly inspiring. It proves that you don’t need to be a genius like Elon Musk to succeed at a massive scale. The only thing you need to do is to keep an open mind, observe what successful people are doing, improve it and execute like crazy.
I highly recommend this book and I consider it one of the best business biographies I read. This is the kind of book that I will read many times because I know I will lean something new every time I read it.
Please leave a comment below or let me know any questions you have. I’d love to hear what you think!