The Sam Walton story is getting better and better. I enjoy this book because it recollects the significant moments in his life that were public and had attention drawn to it when they happened. Although those moments are noteworthy, I have a bigger appreciation for the portions of his private life that they revealed. Truly, we have no business knowing about these parts of his life. It is these displays, that of humanistic characteristics, that take these moguls of our dominate society and shed light on them. This puts them in a place for us to perceive what is happening in their lives as more achievable that we thought before. When we level the playing field this way, this shows us that really show young aspiring entrepreneurs like myself that their level of achievement indeed is hard, respectable and admirable but still in obtainable.
In my eyes prior to this book I thought someone of his magnitude had no home life and was constantly in the cave of the corporate building in Arkansas, number crunching tooth and nail and just living an overall stressful hell (in bad context) of a life. This was just not the case. He not only came from humble beginnings but remained as humble to even at one time during his career retire because he thought it was in the best interest of the company. He even made a return because it was in the best interest of the company.
Even his way of managing is exciting! Instead of micro managing his associates (employees) he would give them responsibility and accountability so that they could have a sense of freedom within there work. He encouraged them by giving them more access to him on a daily basis. This gave his associates a means of having a truly open door policy to his office and direct lines to his phone where you could reach him directly. How many people do we know that do not even make millions of dollars but have a secretary that state that their founder is too busy to answer the phone about questions the associates have? This guy was a multi-billionaire with an open door policy, that speaks volumes to the person he was and keeps him in a humanistic light. This is the opposite of many founders of companies that we know of today.
The book described many of his past times in great detail, which I thought was a bit odd. I did not think it was possible to have fun while doing something as big as Wal-Mart. Or that he could have time or even free time with a business that was constantly growing. He enjoyed the outdoors greatly. During hunting season he would do a lot of quail hunting and everyday around lunch he would hit the tennis courts for exercise.
To be an avid quail hunter you have to be in the right places at the right time. I think that it is important to note that he would not at times have access to the places he would be mostly likely to hunt them. Walton, instead of paying off the owners of the pastures of land that had quail in them, would instead just ask politely and say that he was a business man from Arkansas and would woo them into liking him and letting him use their land for hunting. No matter how much money you have, the communication skills that Walton had are priceless and go much farther than money.
What separated Walton from other successful people in life, what really put him over the top was that he could go to strangers and make them like him. Like him? Yeah that cool, but like him enough for him to use there land. This is not something that he was born with. This is something he built through repetition that every successful business person will go through. Thus, human.
I am not quite finished with the book yet, I still have about 50-60 pages left to go. I am sure that I am going to hit a point in the next couple of chapters that will really give me a good overall look at how he as an entrepreneur went about his venture not strictly to scale first like some companies do, but to stay loyal to the customer, build strong core values and then grow it organically with real integrity and when they were truly ready.