American Businessman and Entrepreneur, Founder of Wal-Mart and Sam's Club
"I guess in all my years, what I heard more than anything else was: a mere town cannot support a discount store for very long."
"A good location, and what we have to pay for it, is so important to the success of a store. And it’s one area of the company in which we’ve always had family involvement."
"Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They're absolutely free and worth a fortune… If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish."
"Celebrate your successes. Find some humor in your failures. Don't take yourself so seriously. Loosen up, and everybody around you will loosen up. Have fun. Show enthusiasm - always. When all else fails, put on a costume and sing a silly song. Then make everybody else sing with you. Don't do a hula on Wall Street. It's been done. Think up your own stunt. All of this is more important, and more fun, than you think, and it really fools the competition. Why should we take those cornballs at Wal-Mart seriously?"
"A computer can tell you down the dime what you’ve sold. But it can never tell you how much you could have sold."
"All of this is more important, and more fun, than you think. Don't do a hula on Wall Street. It's been done. Think up your own stunt."
"And once we’ve made that decision on Friday, we expect it to be acted on in all the stores on Saturday. What we guard against around here is people saying, ‘Let’s think about it.’ We make a decision. Then we act on it."
"But we did try to think ahead some when it came to the cities. We never planned on actually going into the cities. What we did instead was build our stores in a ring around a city – pretty far out – and wait for the growth to come to us. This strategy worked practically everywhere."
"Don't take yourself so seriously. Loosen up, and everybody around you will loosen up. Have fun."
"Each Wal-Mart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they hold for their community."
"I had to pick myself up and get on with it, do it all over again, only even better this time. [When his landlord did not renew his lease and gave Sam’s store to the landlord’s son]"
"I don’t subscribe to any of these investing theories, and most people seem surprised to learn that I’ve never done much investing in anything except Wal-Mart stock. I believe the folks who’ve done the best with Wal-Mart stock are ones who, like me, have just decided to invest with us for the long run."
"I don’t know what causes a person to be ambitious, but it is a fact that I have been over-blessed with drive and ambition from the time I hit the ground."
"How do you inspire a grandchild to go to work if they’ll never have a poor day in their life? [Asked at 6:00 am one morning.]"
"I probably have traveled and walked into more variety stores than anybody in America. I am just trying to get ideas, any kind of ideas that will help our company. Most of us don't invent ideas. We take the best ideas from someone else."
"I learned a long time ago that exercising your ego in public is definitely not the way to build an effective organization."
"I have always been driven to buck the system, to innovate, to take things beyond where they've been."
"I learned from a very early age that it was 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 ad shared completely was their approach to money: they just didn’t spend it."
"I still can't believe it was news that I get my hair cut at the barbershop. Where else would I get it cut? Why do I drive a pickup truck? What am I supposed to haul my dogs around in, a Rolls-Royce?"
"I’d get down low, turn my plane up on its side, and fly right over a town. Once we had a spot picked out, we’d land, go find out who owned the property, and try to negotiate the deal right then. That’s another good reason I don’t like jets. You can’t get down low enough to really tell what’s going on, the way I could in my little planes."
"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."
"I remember one time I didn’t want to spend any money on motels so we all slept in sleeping bags on the floor of one of our guys’ houses. His furniture hadn’t gotten there yet."
"I’d hate to see any descendants of mine fall into the category of what I’d call ‘idle rich’ – a group I’ve never had much use for."
"I’m not sure I ever really figured out this celebrity business. Why in the world, for example, would I get an invitation to Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding out in Hollywood? Why do I drive a pickup truck? What am I supposed to haul my dogs around in, a Rolls-Royce?"
"I’ve always had a passion to compete. Our story [Wal-Mart] proves that spirited competition is good for business."
"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."
"Information is power, and the gain you get from empowering your associates more than offsets the risk of informing your competitor."
"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. [Learning from the competition]"
"It 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 was almost as if I had a right to win. Thinking like that often seems to turn into sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy."
"If you take someone who lacks the experience and the know-how but has the real desire and the willingness to work his tail off to get the job done, he’ll make up for what he lacks. And that proved true nine times out of ten."
"Individuals don’t win; teams do. Wal-Mart is just a spectacular example of what happens when people find a way to work together – where almost four hundred thousand people have come together as a group like this, with a real feeling of partnership, and have been able, for the most part, to put the needs of their individual egos behind the needs of their team."
"Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody else is doing it one way, there's a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction."
"Keep everybody guessing as to what your next trick is going to be, he said. Don’t become too predictable."
"Money and ownership alone aren’t enough. Set high goals, encourage competition, and then keep score."
"My feeling is that just because we work so hard, we don't have to go around with long faces all the time. While we're doing all of this work, we like to have a good time."
"My nature has always been to charge, to say let’s do it now. Often, Bud [James L. Bud Walton, Sam’s brother] would advise taking a different direction, or maybe changing the timing. I soon learned to listen to him because he has exceptional judgment and a great deal of common sense."
"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."