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Sam Walton: Made In America

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As Sam Walton himself said, this is "...a story about entrepreneurship, and risk, and hard work, and knowing where you want to go and being willing to do what it takes to get there. And it's a story about believing in your idea even when maybe some other folks don't, and about sticking to your guns." It's the story of how Walton parlayed a single dime store in a hardscrabble cotton town into Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world. The undisputed merchant king of the late twentieth century, he never lost the common touch. Here Walton tells his extraordinary story in his own inimitable words. Genuinely modest, but always sure of his ambitions and achievements, Walton shares his thinking in a candid, straight-from-the-shoulder style.
"Here is an extraordinary success story about a man whose empire was built not with smoke and mirrors, but with good old-fashioned elbow grease."

346 pages, Paperback

Published June 1, 1993

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About the author

Sam Walton

14 books91 followers
Samuel Moore "Sam" Walton was an American businessman and entrepreneur born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, best known for founding the retailers Walmart and Sam's Club.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,050 reviews
Profile Image for Liong.
132 reviews80 followers
February 21, 2023
I read this book because I wanted to know more about business especially opening retail stores.

I heard about the entrepreneur, Sam Walton a long time ago and he was the richest man before.

This book is telling exciting and untold stories about his business struggle, and his relationship with his family relationship, partners, associates (employees), and competitors.

He has 10 rules that made him successful in his business.

He also elaborated many creative and new ideas to grow his business rather than old traditional ways.
Profile Image for Patrick Peterson.
462 reviews188 followers
September 30, 2020
Just in case you might not realize it, the huge Walmart corporation was actually started and grown quite large by one main individual and his name was Sam Walton. This book is his personal and business story and I Highly recommended it!

My 14 yr. old son and I listened to the audio version and it was fantastic! There were incredibly few places where Walton went against any libertarian principles that I could tell. And his explaining the nitty-gritty of motivating people and trying to get them to be more comfortable with and thrive under the constant change that is the marketplace was just fantastic.

Of course he gives a wonderfully folksy description of the history of his with the help of many, many associates' building the great Wal-Mart corp. Lots of neat comments from his family, top Wal-Mart employees and others regularly interspersed in his story.

The book was never boring and seemed quite fair. He admitted in the book to making many mistakes, and that was nice to see. He did not come across as arrogant at all, just very strong willed and having almost unbounded energy and focus on the business.

The different tactics he used to motivate Wal-Mart team members, to entice customers was simply wonderful to hear... especially since my son seemed to appreciate them too. He actually looked forward to hearing more of the book as we drove to and from his school each day for a few weeks.

The positive, can-do, attitude that radiates from the book is something more folks could use, including myself. I recommend this book often. My only regret is that it took me about 15-18 years from the time that my wife recommended it to me, till I actually got the audio version and listened to it.

2020-09-29 - Cleaning up/out my office, I came across my notes from when I was listening to the CDs. Here are the parts that I thought were cool or at least valuable:

- His motto for his early stores: "Buy is low. Stack it high. Sell it cheap!"
- He had the "personality of a promoter (ala PT Barnum) but the soul of an organizer/back office. - He was "In for the long haul" NOT for the short term.

His emphasis on CHANGE, throughout the book, and that is was:
- essential
- positive
- difficult
combined with the rest of the book's background and insights make me think that this book is vastly better than the simpleton but possibly more famous "Who Moved My Cheese" book.
Profile Image for Lora.
534 reviews19 followers
July 30, 2011
Hmm... I honestly don't know what I think about this book. There were some things about Sam Walton and his story that I loved: his enthusiasm, his drive, his sense of humor; and yet there were other things in the book or about his character that puzzled me. For example, the Wal-Mart culture that he repeatedly paints a picture of in the book sounds pretty phenomenal-- an environment of friendliness, down-home/small-town atmosphere, and creativity-- but I can't really say I've felt that vibe from my shopping experiences there. In fact, I've often felt much the opposite. But I realize this book was written in the early 90's and much could have changed since then. I also, like Mr. Walton, finished this book wondering if such a focused, career-driven life (such as he led) could be completely fulfilling and leave the desired legacy. This same question could be applied to finding the right balance in a lot of different pursuits. When is enough, enough?

Regardless of these points, this book left me with an incredible admiration for what Sam Walton was able to accomplish in the retail world. The growth and productivity of Wal-Mart from the 70's to the early 90's is almost unbelievable... and yet it's true. This book also, I think, has some great tips for those looking to be successful as entrepreneurs.
110 reviews40 followers
July 13, 2017
Sam Walton was definitely the O.G. of retail. As mentioned in Brad Stone's book about Amazon, there's no doubt that Jeff Bezos took a number of pages out of San Walton's playbook. I enjoyed reading about his journey, his hard work and customer-first mentality, and how Wal-Mart completely changed the face of retail. There wasn't a lot of personal detail here, it was more a biography of Wal-Mart, kind of like how Walter Isaacson's book was more a biography of Apple than of Steve Jobs. The tone of the book is informal, kind of folksy, like he's talking to you, with many bits with people who had worked with Sam Walton over the years. It fit well, I think, with what he was trying to convey, ie that Wal-Mart is an everyman's type of company. Good read, I recommend it.
1 review
May 18, 2018
Taking the book Sam Walton: Made in America off the shelf I started reading it and I was in for a surprise. Made in America is an All-American book about building a business that anyone could grow to enjoy. The thing that surprised me was that it was not at all boring because his style of writing. Being an autobiography it was a little out of my comfort zone because I am usually used to sticking with the dystopian genre. This book was nothing like any other business book that I had ever read. Sam Walton kept me wanting to turn the page time after time.

Sam is the spitting image of the American Dream. Being born in America to selling newspaper subscriptions from a young age to being named the Richest Man in America by Forbes Magazine. He was a very good student and a talented athlete, college wasn’t a worry for him with his football scholarship. Walton from the start was a very humble man. Whenever you own a chain of stores you would imagine that you would be dressed all nice, have a nice car, and have a big house, but was more so the complete opposite. He didn’t think that just because he had money he had to show it off. One of Sam’s main bases that his company was founded on was the value of a dollar.

The book goes from teaching you the value of a dollar to how to manage a company. Waltons book is a nonfiction book but more specifically an autobiography. I feel like this book is more geared toward people that either really have an interest in the history of Walmart or want to go into entrepreneurship. I started to read it for the fact that I am an avid lover of Walmart and wanted to learn about some of the history behind the whole company. Reading this book I thought that there was never a moment that I turned the page and did not learn anything. I personally think that most autobiographies should have a lesson here or there, this book does not fail to include valuable lessons.

Being an autobiography Made in America is written in a traditional way which is chapters. The way that the chapters are written is more or less in chronological order. The book being written in chronological order gives the book more effect because it showed how Sam Walton made a business from the love of working in retail. A unique thing that I liked about this book is that every chapter started with either a little quote or story from someone that worked with Sam Walton whether it was his family or the first manager that he had hired. Like most books this book had an ongoing theme that I noticed which was entrepreneurship. Sam explains his whole experience of building a business in a very detailed way that is easy to follow.

Overall the author, theme, style of writing, and genre all blended together to make a book that I would highly recommend. I rate this book a 5 out of 5 stars because it had everything I believe a book should have. Sam Walton is just one of those authors that can somehow take his life story and make it to where people want to read it with vivid language and details. He paints an image in your mind of exactly what is going on. Not only was this book a good read but it also included lessons that aren’t just relevant in entrepreneurship but in life.
Profile Image for Tigran Mamikonian.
67 reviews12 followers
July 16, 2013
The book of Sam Walton, founder of Wall-Mart, is classic biography book of very successfull businessman. This book and the one written by Hovard Shults from Starbuck's are treated to be MUST READ books for all retailers so that one understand what is success and how much it usually cost...

Would recommend to read this book to all business founders and owners. Here arethe ideas I really liked in the book:
1. Hands on approach to his business, down to each store, business unit - even if you are the toppest manager;
2. Attitude of Sam to his subordinates and the corporate culture of support in he company, i.e. if he discovered that there is a manager in the company who is not communicative to his team, the one would be dismissed shortly...
3. Confidence of Sam in his success from the times of his childhood... As he said he couldn't even think about failure...
4.The culture of Wall-Mart assumed constant change and development... "... We are always ready to give away all achievements and start from scratch ..."
5. Wall is quoting Rockfeller - Any right is responsibility, any opportunity is liability, any ownership is debt... By this he stressed importance of debt financing in building of equity...
Profile Image for Mario Tomic.
159 reviews309 followers
February 9, 2015
This is one of those book that you have to have on your bookshelf. Sam Walton is a great example of a man with very strong values and principles, despite all of the success and failures Sam never sacrificed his core values. If I had to summarize the book into top 3 lessons this is what it would look like:
1. Be passionate about learning, Sam Walton learned so much from people around him, his co-workers and from all his competition and it was one of the key elements of his success.
2. Take action first and a lot of things will fall into place. We always think about preparing ourselves perfectly for a situation before we take any action on it however if you look at Sam Walton's story he usually learned by taking action.
3. Be ready to experiment until it works. Most of what Walmart did in the early stages was trial and error until they got the right formula. So the lesson here is never expect things to go perfect from the first try, persist until you get it right!

There's much more in the book and these are just my top 3 things. Sam Walton is a great inspiration and I consider myself fortunate to be able to get access to his book, it's really amazing.
Profile Image for Sattar Shayesteh Far.
56 reviews34 followers
July 1, 2020
از یک کتاب مدیریتی چی میخواییم
خشک و حوصله سر بر نباشه و اینکه اطلاعاتی مفید و کاربردی داشته باشه
این کتاب همرو داشت
یکی از کتاب های محبوب جف بزوس
تصویر روی جلد کتاب پیر مردی کار آفرین که مثل جوانانی خوش ذوق ،کلاهی بر سر و لبخندی مرموز بر لب داره که اسم یکی از بزرگترین شرکت های دنیا روشه
شاید اگر سم والتون پنجاه سال دیرتر به دنیا میومد الان سرسخترین رقیب جف بزوس بنیان گذار آمازون بود
چون سم والتون بروز ترین مدل کسب و کار رو تو زمونه خودش به وجود اورده و در دهه هشتاد میلادی با پردازش کامپیوتری سفارشات رو برسی و بالانس میکرده ، یکی از راز های موففیت همینه «خلاقیت»در کسب و کار ، کاری که امروزه استارت آپ ها انجام میدن .
نکات جالب و کلیدی درون کتاب گنجانده شده که به عمل بررسی شده و حتی امروزه به خوبی جواب میده .

کلام آخر: کتابی تاثیر گذار و مفید برای کارآفرینان در حوزه کسب و کار .
Profile Image for Henrik Haapala.
509 reviews86 followers
September 27, 2022
2022-09-27 update:
Such a great book. A surprise and one of the most marked up books I have. To reread and reread many times. Favorite chapters are 1,2,3 and 4.
Three Lessons:
1) set high goals
2) have a bias for action
3) have an optimistic attitude - see the chapter #3 “bouncing back” (like Martin Seligman describes in Learned Optimism)
“I love competition”
“The whole thing was probably a blessing”
“You can learn from everybody”

Bonus tip #1: read. “I went to the library there and checked out every book on retailing.”

Bonus tip #2: be frugal and learn the value of dollar. “I’m cheap”

“Two things about Sam Walton distinguish him from almost everyone else I know. First, he gets up every day bound and determined to improve something. Second, he is less afraid of being wrong than anyone I’ve ever known. And once he sees he’s wrong, he just shakes it off and heads in another direction.” p.50

“It was a real blessing for me to be so green and ignorant, because it was from that experience that I learned a lesson which has stuck with me all through the years: you can learn from everybody. I didn’t just learn from reading every retail publication I could get my hands on, I probably learned the most from studying what John Dunham was doing across the street.” p.29

“But at the time the Newport and the Ben Franklin had great potential, and I’ve always believed in goals, so I set myself one: I wanted my little Newport store to be the best, most profitable variety store in Arkansas within five years. I felt I had the talent to do it, that it could be done, and why not go for it? Set that as a goal and see if you can’t achieve it. If it doesn’t work, you’ve had fun trying.” p.28

“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.” p.19

“When Sam Walton feels a certain way, he is relentless. He will just wear you out."

"Four-thirty wouldn't be all that unusual a time for me to get started down at the office. That early morning time is tremendously valuable: it's uninterrupted time when I think and plan and sort things out."

"I think one of Sam's great strengths is that he is totally unpredictable. He is always his own person, totally independent in his thinking."

"Now when it comes to wall-mart, there's no two ways about it: I'm cheap. I think it's a real statement that wall- mart never bought a jet until after we were approaching 40 million dollars in sales and expanded as far away as California and Maine, and even then they had to practically tie me up and hold me down to do it. On the road, we sleep two to a room, although as I've gotten older I have finally started staying in my own room."

LS Robson; “He influenced me a great deal. He was a great salesman, one of the most persuasive individuals I have ever met. And I am sure his success as a trader and a businessman, his knowledge of finance and the law, and his philosophy had a big effect on me. My competitive nature was such that i saw his success and admired it . I didn’t envy it. I admired it. I said to myself: maybe I will be as successful as he is someday.” p.7

I also started selling magazine subscriptions, probably as young as seven or eight years old, and I had paper routes from the seventh grade all the way through college. I raised and sold rabbits and pigeons too, nothing really unusual for country boys of that era.
I learned from a very early age that is what important for us kids to help provide for the home, to be contributors, rather than just takers. In the process, of course we learned how much hard work it took to get your hands on a dollar, and that when you did it was worth something. One thing my mother and dad shared completely was their approach to money: they just didn’t spend it.” p.6

“No question about it, a lot of my attitude toward money stems from growing up during a pretty hardscrabble time in our country’s history: the Great Depression.” p.4

“People can’t understand why we’re still so conservative. They make a big deal about Sam being a billionaire and driving an old pickup truck or buying his clothes from Walmart or refusing to fly first class.” p.6

Sams rules for building a business:

1. Commit to your business.
2. Share your profits with all your associates, and treat them as partners.
3. Motivate your partners.
4. Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners.
5. Appreciate everything your associates do for the business.
6. Celebrate your successes.
7. Listen to everyone in your company.
8. Exceed your customers' expectations.
9. Control your expenses better than your competition.
10. Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom.

“As famous as Sam is for being a great motivator - and he deserves even more credit than he’s gotten for that - he is equally good at checking on the people he has motivated. You might call his style: management by looking over your shoulder.”

“Rule 10: swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom. Sir everybody is doing it one way , there’s a good chance you can find a 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 than anything was: a town of less than 50000 population cannot support a discount store for very long.” p.317

“Here’s how I look at it: my life has been a trade off. If I wanted to reach the goals I set for myself, I had to get at it and stay at it every day. I had to think about it all the time. And I guess what David Glass said about me is true: I had to get up every day with my mind set on improving something. Charlie Baum was tight too when he said I was driven by a desire to always be on the top of the heap. But in the larger sense - the life and death sense - did I make the right choices?” p.320

“Great ideas come from everywhere if you just listen and look for them. You never know who’s going to have a great idea.” 324

”But all this requires overcoming one of the most powerful forces in human nature: the resistance to change. To succeed in this world, you have to change all the time.” p.324
Profile Image for Devin.
189 reviews32 followers
November 14, 2020
DNF at 65%.

Sam Walton was a weird fucking man. A terrible man, of course; career billionaire who stole and profited from his workers [he even admits it in this book!], anti-union [surprise, surprise], corporatist, responsible for one of the worst atrocities of capitalism: Wal-Mart.

He wants you to sympathize with him. I lost count of how many times in this book he touts the "well sure i'm a billionaire but i still am just a good ol' country boy like some of you." Lost in-between those ramblings is him having owned a second home SOLELY for quail hunting, which he casually mentions like its something we can all do. He wants you to sympathize with his father, who, during the Great Depression, was a mortgage broker who would seize peoples' farms. Again, during The Great Depression. Leaving them pennilesss and with nothing. He wants you to sympathize with how he actually started his chain of convenience stores pre-Wal-Mart with a sizeable loan from his wife's father, but it's okay because he paid him back. Of course, anyone who has ever worked for poverty wages for a long time might struggle to sympathize with him. I certainly have no sympathy.

He has a weird fixation on panties. In the first 100 pages, he mentions panties at least 7 times. I don't know if this was his way of trying to be humorous or provocative, but it was fucking weird.

I know I mentioned this above, but he quite literally admits to having paid his workers as little as he could get away with while him and the other shareholders raked in millions from the stock market.

Sam Walton: bastion of the decaying corporatist u s. Empire.
Profile Image for Henning.
104 reviews32 followers
August 12, 2020
Sam Walton is the founder of the worlds biggest company Walmart with now over 2 million employees. He basically grown up selling stuff and he knew very early in life that he wanted to work in the retail business. He involved almost the whole family in his career and earlier businesses which he already had founded before he created his great idea called Walmart.

I read a good amount of biographies of successful business people and obviously there are many parallels between them both in personality and business development. Sam loved what he was doing and his enthusiasm and motivation to grow more and more lead to the fast growth of his career. I also liked to read about his private and humble (obviously only for a Billionaire) life.

But honestly what I didn't like was that he only scratched the surface of the topics in almost every chapter. I expected him to go a little bit more into detail when it comes to failures and hard times but instead he basically praised the whole process as if everything worked with maximum efficiency and almost without major problems.
I often read biographies to learn more about how other successful people started their journey. After I finished like 40% of the book he already had founded Walmart and opened hundreds of stores (and bought an airplane). I'm missing more of the youth part and struggles here.

This book is an ok read but when you want to dig deeper in the life story of Sam Walton and detailed growth Walmart you won't find the real joy here.
36 reviews
March 18, 2015
Utilized Accelerated Reading Technique - as taught by Tai Lopez.

The story of Sam Walton, a man who could not sit still.

Take aways from this autobiography:
Understood the value of a dollar, grew up during the depression. Continued to be frugal through all his years. Made sure all his businesses also understood the value of a dollar. From an early age he worked multiple jobs, never stopped moving. He has an urge to win, to win at everything.

Sam built Walmart by copying. He didn't just merely copy someone else's design, he took the best from everyone, and everything. He found what worked and doubled-down.

He accepted and then moved past his failures quickly.

He spoke to everyone he could in the industry, and took intense notes (he obviously learned best by writing). He went to trade organizations, competitors, both domestic and global. He was always in his stores, around his employees, asking questions, seeing how things were done. He never stopped learning. He was always look to improve every aspect of his business.

He was never married to procedure, only to values and concepts. He accepted changes to his operations as necessary, but the driver to those changes was his overall vision and values, which never faltered.

Although he looks back thinking what he did was best overall for everyone, he definitely put his business ahead of his family.
Profile Image for Jonathan Mckay.
586 reviews52 followers
November 3, 2022
Companies are Exploration

Most successful people found a lottery ticket and then invent a story to make luck sound like skill. (1) Yet for some, it is clear that regardless the starting point, they would end up on top. Sam Walton is among the latter.

Despite the aww-shucks tone and folksy self narrated drawl, Made in America is not a modest book. Sam Walton describes his childhood as obtaining eagle scout at 13 to win a bet, and as the high school football quarterback: We went undefeated, and won the state championship.

The most important takeaway from this book, is how to learn in business. Learning is an omnichannel constant struggle, and an area where Walton stands out. To start his first store I went to the library there and checked out every book on retailing. As America became more industrialized and packaged Walton did not complacently ride the tide of his Ben Franklin variety stores. He found the philosophy that set Wal-Mart apart in a competitor I started running all over the country studying the concepts. Then so and such started a store with a simple philosophy: buy it low, stack it high, sell it cheap. Wal-Mart rode a wave of change in the retail industry, and without the curiosity of its founder, the inevitable changes would have created just another small town operator like my grandfather.

As we all know, Wal-Mart did not get steamrolled, it was the steamroller. Not until Amazon has there been a company able to compete effectively with the machine that is Wal-Mart, and I was surprised by the number of cultural attributes shared between Wal-Mart and Meta, companies of different generations, industries, and business models.

1. Value talent, and strive to find solutions that work for employees over the long term.

2. Allow for experimentation at the local level, but strive to build infrastructure to propagate information as quickly and transparently as possible. If speed and accuracy are at odds, choose speed.

If you can't make your books balance, you take the difference and put it under the heading ESP, which stands for 'error someplace'. Then we would get the P&L out to the store manager as quickly as we could.

3. Don't be proud about innovation. If you find innovation elsewhere, use it.

I read an article about Ben Franklin stores that went self service. No clerks around the store, just checkout registers up front. I liked it, so I did that too.

As is to be expected, Walton dismisses the externalities created by his company and narratives about him in an offhand manner. If you want to understand the effect of big-box retail on the American service class, look elsewhere. But if you want to understand how to create a winning business starting from almost nothing, this is the first book I would recommend. And of course Walton agrees: On of the reasons I'm writing this book is so that my children and great grandchildren will read it and know this: if you start [selling stock to live high], or any of that foolishness, I'll come back and haunt you.

109th book of 2022

(1): See Built From Scratch (Home Depot), In-n-out Burger, Empire of Pain (Sackler Dynasty), just among books I’ve read this year.
Profile Image for Enjgaa.
77 reviews16 followers
January 5, 2021
The book for people who want to open their own service/business.

Sam Walton is owner of WalMart. He changed retailing industry and brought current chain stores' standards.

1. Find and hire right people and talents even they did not graduate fancy colleges or universities. Implement "Kaizen way" within your team and company.
2. Be competitive. Check what your competitives do. Specially concentrate on what they are doing right.
3. Be innovative. Think about how you can make new technologies or concepts adapt to your own good and modify it for your purpose.
4. Have your own target. Commit to what you want to do and do whatever you can to achieve your goal.
5. Everything has 2 sides. Everybody is facing to their own problems. If bad thing happens today, that means it is time to think big and grow bigger based on experience you had.
Profile Image for Tim Chavel.
241 reviews60 followers
June 20, 2014
Being an employee at Wal-Mart now for almost three years I knew this is a book I wanted to read. I also enjoy reading books about companies especially if the author is the founder. Wal-Mart's story is a fantastic story of America's free enterprise. I will tell you that some of the things revealed in the book about employees were either not correct or they have changed through the years. I know for a fact that many have changed and I think Sam Walton would not be happy about some of the changes. To help you understand was an amazing success story Wal-Mart is I have included a quote from the book below:

As everybody today knows, Wal-Mart's stock performance, and the wealth it has created, is a story in itself. Just fifteen years ago [this book was published in 1992], the market value of the company was around $135 million; today it's over $50 billion. But here's a better way to look at it: let's say you bought 100 shares back in that original public offering, for $1650. Since then, we've had nine two-for-one stock splits, so you would have 51,200 shares today. Within the last year, it's traded at right under $60 a share. So your investment would have been worth right around $3 million at that price. Obviously, our stock has made a lot of folks happy over the years, and - pure and simple - that's where the Walton family net worth has been created. It paid off beyond any of our dreams.

If you want to know more about Wal-Mart and/or just enjoy reading about companies then this would be a good read for you!
Profile Image for Alex Poovathingal.
65 reviews75 followers
July 25, 2014
A brilliant tale of a startup which went on to become the largest company by revenue. The basic philosophies which Sam Walton brought into his retail and discount chains business has been a driving force behind this change. One of the most striking among them, I felt, was his lack of inhibitions to copy ideas. One of his favorite past times was to visit the stores of his competitors and figure out what works for them. Another was flying his plane around scouting for places to start new stores.

As far as the book is considered, it's a tale of a company that has changed the way retails has done all around the world. Even though its an auto-biography of Sam Walton, its more or less a story about Walmart, just like his life. I would recommend this book for all startup enthusiasts. The sheer force and persistence he has shown towards growing his company and making sure it stayed the best is a model which everyone can follow.
Profile Image for Veerraju Chitturi.
5 reviews2 followers
August 13, 2022
If US is mecca of capitalism and free market enterprise, Walmart epitomizes it. This book speaks how passionate Sam Walton is about retail and how he has built a mighty empire on the premise of delivering the best price to the customer. Sam Walton is an absolute character, do you know he used to fly a plane to manage his stores and survey locations for new ones. I'm beginning to realise that one trait that's common among the organisations which are immensely successful is the doggedness of the founders. If you liked Shoe Dog, you would like this too except it goes couple of decades back.

It's an easy read. Touches Depression era, post war US' growth story, globalization, family, hobbies, church, labour unions, small retailer debate and much more. First quarter is really good but can get preachy at times.
Profile Image for Jeff Suwak.
Author 17 books41 followers
May 29, 2015
Fantastic book. I would recommend this to anybody who wants to start their own business or reach for any big goal.

Forget about the politics of the company right now. To get too focused on that is to miss out on a book full of wisdom by an interesting, humble character.

There are lessons one can learn here about both business and life in general, and it's all written in a very simple style that flows easily and is a pleasure to read.

I really didn't know what to think when I picked up this book. I need to learn more about business and needed a break from text books, so I decided to try it. I am so glad I did.

Excellent book.
Profile Image for P.S. Winn.
Author 77 books345 followers
June 13, 2018
I think Wal-mart has changed a lot from when Sam Walton first envisioned the store. I believe the founder was more of a home-spun character and sadly it seems to me that although employing many people the store has turned into a heartless monster.
Profile Image for Aditya Kulkarni.
15 reviews1 follower
May 23, 2021
One of the best books written about retailing and the basic behavioral characteristics driving the decision making written by God himself.
110 reviews52 followers
September 18, 2020
The author has painted an interesting landscape of the dynamics of the retail industry & his plan to become the best retailer, along with a fair share of self-aggrandizement and too many unnecessary positive endorsements from various people who have interacted with him.

1. He is a very competitive person who values the customers & employees. He also believes in saving every dollar:

"But sometimes I'm asked why today, when Wal-Mart has been so successful,
when we're a $50 billion-plus company, should we stay so cheap? That's simple:
because we believe in the value of the dollar. We exist to provide value to our
customers, which means that in addition to quality and service, we have to save
them money. Every time Wal-Mart spends one dollar foolishly, it comes right
out of our customers' pockets. Every time we save them a dollar, that puts us one
more step ahead of the competition—which is where we always plan to be."

2. Underscoring the importance of volumes:
Here's the simple lesson we learned—which others were learning at the same
time and which eventually changed the way retailers sell and customers buy all
across America: say I bought an item for 80 cents. I found that by pricing it at
$1.00 I could sell three times more of it than by pricing it at $1.20. I might make
only half the profit per item, but because I was selling three times as many, the
overall profit was much greater. Simple enough. But this is really the essence of
discounting: by cutting your price, you can boost your sales to a point where you
earn far more at the cheaper retail price than you would have by selling the item
at the higher price. In retailer language, you can lower your markup but earn
more because of the increased volume.

3. Stressed on the importance of passing on the benefits of price reduction to the customer:

The thing I remember most, though, was the way we priced goods.
Merchandise would come in and we would just lay it down on the floor and get
out the invoice. Sam wouldn't let us hedge on a price at all. Say the list price was
$1.98, but we had only paid 50 cents. Initially, I would say, 'Well, it's originally
$1.98, so why don't we sell it for $1.25?' And he'd say, 'No. We paid 50 cents for
it. Mark it up 30 percent, and that's it. No matter what you pay for it, if we get a
great deal, pass it on to the customer.' And of course that's what we did."

4. focus on operational efficiency:

"We have a lot of fun with all this item promotion, but here's what it's really
all about. The philosophy it teaches, which rubs off on all the associates and the
store managers and the department heads, is that your stores are full of items that
can explode into big volume and big profits if you are just smart enough to
identify them and take the trouble to promote them.
In retail, you are either operations driven—where your main
thrust is toward reducing expenses and improving efficiency—or you are
merchandise driven. The ones that are truly merchandise driven can always work
on improving operations. But the ones that are operations driven tend to level off
and begin to deteriorate. So Sam's item promotion mania is a great game and we
all have a lot of fun with it, but it is also at the heart of what creates our
extraordinary high sales per square foot, which enable us to dominate our

5. Keeping your ear to the ground:
"I remember him saying over and over again: go in and check our
competition. Check everyone who is our competition. And don't look for the bad.
Look for the good. If you get one good idea, that's one more than you went into
the store with, and we must try to incorporate it into our company. We're really
not concerned with what they're doing wrong, we're concerned with what they're
doing right, and everyone is doing something right."

6. Constantly experimenting; doing the obvious things which the competitors aren't. For instance, infiltrating the small towns (competitors like K-mart used to focus only on the big cities)

He was the main force that moved us away from the old drop
shipment method, in which a store ordered directly from the manufacturer and
had the merchandise delivered directly to the store by common carrier. He
pushed us in some new directions, such as merchandise assembly, in which we
would order centrally for every store and then assemble their orders at the
distribution center, and also cross-docking, in which preassembled orders for
individual stores would be received on one side of our warehouse and leave out
the other.

But while the big guys were leapfrogging from large city to large city, they
became so spread out and so involved in real estate and zoning laws and city
politics that they left huge pockets of business out there for us. Our growth
strategy was born out of necessity, but at least we recognized it as a strategy
pretty early on. We figured we had to build our stores so that our distribution
centers, or warehouses, could take care of them, but also so those stores could be

7. Granting stock options to employees & the novel Shrink Incentive Plan:
One of the most successful bonuses has been our shrink incentive plan, which
demonstrates the partnership principle as well as any I know beyond just straight
profit sharing. As you may know, shrinkage, or unaccounted-for inventory loss
—theft, in other words —is one of the biggest enemies of profitability in the
retail business. So in 1980, we decided the best way to control the problem was
to share with the associates any profitability the company gained by reducing it.
If a store holds shrinkage below the company's goal, every associate in that store
gets a bonus that could be as much as $200. This is sort of competitive
information, but I can tell you that our shrinkage percentage is about half the
industry average. Not only that, it helps our associates feel better about each
other, and themselves. Most people don't enjoy stealing, even the ones who will
do it if given the opportunity. And most associates don't want to think that
they're working alongside anyone who does enjoy stealing. So under a plan like
this, where you're directly rewarded for honesty, there's a real incentive to keep
from ignoring any customers who might want to walk off with something, or,
worse, to allow any of your fellow associates to fall into that trap. Everybody
working in that store becomes a partner in trying to stop shrinkage, and when
they succeed, they—along with the company in which they already hold stock—
share in the reward.

8. Sharing the financial numbers with employees + sharing information with vendor partners (P&G)
Another important ingredient that has been in the Wal-Mart partnership from
the very beginning has been our very unusual willingness to share most of the
numbers of our business with all the associates. It's the only way they can
possibly do their jobs to the best of their abilities—to know what's going on in
their business. If I was a little slow to pick up on sharing the profits, we were
among the first in our industry—and are still way out front of almost everybody
—with the idea of empowering our associates by running the business
practically as an open book. I've always told people in the stores what was going
on with the numbers. But after we decided to act like a partnership, we
formalized the sharing of information to a much greater degree.
Sharing information and responsibility is a key to any partnership. It makes
people feel responsible and involved, and as we've gotten bigger we've really
had to accept sharing a lot of our numbers with the rest of the world as a
consequence of sticking by our philosophy. Everything about us gets to the
outside. In our individual stores, we show them their store's profits, their store's
purchases, their store's sales, and their store's markdowns. We show them all that
on a regular basis, and I'm not talking about just the managers and the assistant
managers. We share that information with every associate, every hourly, every
part-time employee in the stores. Obviously, some of that information flows to
the street. But I just believe the value of sharing it with our associates is much
greater than any downside there may be to sharing it with folks on the outside.

"As a result, we assembled the top ten officers of both companies in
Bentonville for two days of soul-searching and thinking, and within three
months we had created a P&G/Wal-Mart team to build a whole new kind of
vendor-retailer relationship. We formed a partnership to conduct our business,
with one of the most important outcomes being that we started sharing
information by computer. P&G could monitor Wal-Mart's sales and inventory
data, and then use that information to make its own production and shipping
plans with a great deal more efficiency. We broke new ground by using
information technology to manage our business together, instead of just to audit
Following the P&G/Wal-Mart partnership, many other companies began to
view the supplier as an important partner. The partnership was also a model for
many of our other vendor relationships.

9. Many people have contributed over the years, but David Glass has to get the
lion's share of the credit for where we are today in distribution. David had a
vision for automated distribution centers—linked by computer both to our stores
and to our suppliers—and he set about building such a system, beginning in
1978 at Searcy, Arkansas.

10. Truncating the era of Variety Stores:
Now, most of these guys already had distribution centers and systems in place,
while we had to build one from scratch. So on paper we really didn't stand a
chance. What happened was that they didn't really commit to discounting. They
held on to their old variety store concepts too long. They were so accustomed to
getting their 45 percent markup, they never let go. It was hard for them to take a
blouse they'd been selling for $8.00, and sell it for $5.00, and only make 30
percent. With our low costs, our low expense structures, and our low prices, we
were ending an era in the heartland. We shut the door on variety store thinking.
Profile Image for Iliuta.
37 reviews
September 20, 2019
Sam Walton wrote this book to recount his fascinating story of how Walmart made it from a small-town America discount store to the present-day giant retailer. The tone of the book is informal, as if Sam Walton is right in front of you. That makes the book funny and engaging.

Some valuable insights I took from Walmart´s founder:
- You can learn something from everyone. He is not embarrassed to admit that “most of everything I´ve done I copied from somebody else”. He used to say to his managers and associates: “Check everyone who is our competition. And don’t look for bad. Look for good”. He admitted: “I did something I would do for the rest of my run in the retail business without any shame or embarrassment whatsoever: nose around other´s people stores and searching for good talent.”
- The best way to grow businesswise and sustain performance is by having a hands-on approach, by being present in the stores speaking to people, “before they speak to you", asking questions as part of the “educational process”. The Waltons recall that even during their road trips or overseas voyages, Sam, armed with his tape recorder or legal pad, would check every store in their way asking questions.
- A winning mentality and letting go of your own mistakes or achievements, for that matter, can take you far away - “To succeed in this world, you have to change all the time.”
- Empowering managers and associates to test their radical ideas contributed to Walmart´s success. Sam Walton gives the associates their due credit recognising their constant dedication and vital role in remaining in touch with the customer.

A visionary ahead of his time, he goes on to list ten principles for building a successful business:
1. Commit to the company. Believe it more than anybody else.
2. Share the profits with all your employees. Treat everyone as your partner.
3. Motivate your partners. Don’t become too predictable.
4. Communicate everything you can to your partners.
5. Appreciate your employees. There are no substitutes for a word of praise.
6. Celebrate your success, find humour in your failures and have fun working.
7. Listen, listen to everyone.
8. Exceed your customers´expectations. Do a little more.
9. Control your expenses. Run an efficient operation.
10. Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom.

I read Sam Walton: Made in America was a favourite book of Amazon´s founder. No doubt Jeff Bezos borrowed several principles from Sam Walton - customer focus and frugal mentality. I would recommend the book to anyone interested in acquiring some sound principles to apply in their respective entrepreneurial endeavours.
Profile Image for Hannah.
78 reviews
October 15, 2020
Living in NWA, I see the ripple effect Sam Walton has had in the area first hand. He really changed Arkansas and put it on the map. I’ve met multiple people who personally knew Sam and only have great things to say about him. Everyone loves to hear about someone living the American Dream, starting something incredible out of nothing, and Sam’s commitment to the customer was unparalleled. A good, quick read— one that emphasizes the importance of the free market and the effect it can have on individuals.
Profile Image for May Ling.
1,071 reviews287 followers
November 25, 2020
Sam Walton really was one of the great business leaders of the last century. I had no idea that he had started Walmart well into his 40's. Makes me feel young, just when I was starting to feel old in my career.

The major theme of this book could not be louder, it's all about the customer. The nuance of how Sam Walton thought of it is quite clear. He means specifically: The customer - in his case, small town America, not the slightly more affluent of Urban America - wants good quality product for the lowest possible reasonable price. He allowed this lighthouse to guide his every thought process from marketing, to distribution, to sourcing of goods and more. Even the innovations that occurred technologically were extremely clearly client driven.

This kind of laser focus is rare in business. It is so easy as a company gets larger to become lost in the weeds of things or start to think of economy of scale. That exists pervasively in nearly every industry that one might think was client focus and has opened huge gaping opportunities for competitors to interface and thereby steal customers.

I think it will be interesting to watch Sam Walton's legacy as the world of retail moves out of the physical space into the cloud. There are some real problems that his organization may or may not really yet know how to handle.

As for his management style, I found it amazing that even as a successful a man as he was, there are plenty of stories of fights with his management to implement something that is so obvious today (such as greeters). This took him 1 year to get all his regional managers on-board. Reminds you that no matter who you are, you still have to sell your ideas.

I know there is always a little gloss and fiction to every biography, but there is enough sheer business wisdom - regardless of industry - to make this a worthy read. The language is folksy, making it a light one to bring on vacation or to read after a long day at work. Full stars to Sam Walton on this one.
Profile Image for Greg Kopstein.
401 reviews1 follower
February 16, 2020
This book was sitting on my shelf for a year or so and I figured “why not” - I opened the book, hoping for another solid book on business from a genuine success story. I’ve ready many, so this simple paperback seemed like a good fit.

This simple paperback. A genuine Walmart product if ever I’ve seen one. After several minutes of reading, I knew I needed a highlighter and a pen, which I carried everywhere for two weeks. Everywhere. The book’s spine began to be crinkled, yellow highlights and black pen annotations all over, including my own notes, thoughts, and ideas. Two weeks of being immersed in this legacy-turned-management book.

This book captured Sam Walton’s voice and spirit and I bought in right away. There are many concepts I’d like to include in my teaching or coaching - I’m not in retail or a conventional “business”. I plan on using much of my highlights from Made in America in my Sociology class. I don’t know much about Sam Walton as a person, except from my experiences in his stores and from this book. I understand there are many critics, but I am not one of them.

A fantastic read for any aspiring business or management figure, but also for any position that involves leadership at any level. Then again, maybe it’s a great fit for anyone who has ever stepped into a Walmart.

My only disappointment was that he died in the early 1990’s and Walmart has grown so much since. I wish there was a follow up from its current CEO or member of the Walton family.

Sam Walton earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In my humble opinion, it was well-earned.
Profile Image for Hamide meraj.
208 reviews127 followers
November 12, 2020
The book of founder of Wall-Mart is a classic biography book of a very successful business. It was fascinating to learn from the man that how he built one of the world's largest and most powerful corporations, from scratch! It was great and wonderful. Sam is a great man with strong values, despite all of the successes and failures Sam never sacrificed his core values. I would recommend this book to anybody who wants to start their own business.
Sam's principles for creating a business:

1. Commit to your business.
2. Share your profits with all your associates, and treat them as partners.
3. Motivate your partners.
4. Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners.
5. Appreciate everything your associates do for the business.
6. Celebrate your successes.
7. Listen to everyone in your company.
8. Exceed your customers' expectations.
9. Control your expenses better than your competition.
10. Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore conventional wisdom.

I recommend this book to anybody who wants to start their own business. It is worth reading it.
Profile Image for TarasProkopyuk.
686 reviews94 followers
May 10, 2015
Очень вдохновляющая книга, а самого Сэма Уолтона считаю одним из самых прекрасных предпринимателей. И даже не только за то, что но и его компания Wal-Mart не однократно возглавляли рейтинги таких журналов как Fortune. А скорее за профессионализм, упорство, целеустремленность и его необычный юмор.

Уолтон тот человек, который кажется именно из-тех, кто рождается предпринимателем, а не становится им. Хотя это может и не совсем так, но тем не менее история его жизни и его достижений в бизнесе захватывает. Это тот предприниматель, который добился превращения своего первого небольшого универсама в огромною мировую ритейл империю из более чем 10000 точек продаж в 27 странах мира.

И хотя Сэма с 1992 года уже нет с нами, эта книга осталась, чтобы передать его опыт, ценности и секреты ведения бизнеса, а также для того, чтоб вдохновлять людей на высокие достижения.

Profile Image for Pavel Annenkov.
438 reviews112 followers
June 1, 2023
Многие думают, что это Сэм Уолтон открыл формат дисконтной торговли и, создавая магазины в небольших городах, за счёт этого построил самую большую розничную сеть в мире. Чудес не бывает. Конкуренция была и не слабая. Из книги видно, как много надо было работать, сколько всего внедрить и трудностей преодолеть, чтобы построить великую компанию. Хотя Уолтон написал книгу в начале 90-х, в ней много инструментов, которые будут работать и сейчас и не только в розничном бизнесе. В конце 10 правил ведения бизнеса от Уолтона и немного философских размышлений о смысле жизни.
Кстати, это одна из любимых книг Джефа Безоса - основателя Amazon. Теперь его компания больше Wal-Mart по капитализации в 4 раза.
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