Samuel Moore Walton (March 29, 1918 – April 5, 1992), is better known as Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. He was a highly respected businessman and entrepreneur admired by many. Sam Walton was listed in Time Magazine’s group of the 100 most influential people of the 20th Century in 1998. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H. W. Bush in 1992 for his pioneering efforts in retail.
Sam Walton was a child of the Great Depression, which likely influenced his determination to be successful in the business world and in life. After becoming the youngest Eagle Scout in Oklahoma history as an 8th grader, Sam took on several jobs to help out financially with his family’s needs. He was voted “Most Versatile Boy” when he graduated high school.
He then went to the University of Missouri and graduated with a B.A. in Economics in 1940. There he worked his way through, joined the Zeta Phi chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, and was also tapped by QEBH, a secret society of senior men on campus. QEBH membership comes only after significant accomplishment. Sam Walton was named the “Permanent President” of his graduating class.
After college, he worked at JC Penney as a management trainee for two years. He then left and joined the US military in the US Army Intelligence Corps. He worked for the military supervising security at aircraft plants and prisoner of war camps and eventually achieved the rank of Captain.
In 1945, Sam Walton left the military and went back to his career in retail management. He took over management of a small variety retail store at the age of 26. Here is where he developed many of the business management concepts that led to his massive success.
Forbes Magazine reported Sam Walton as the richest man in the United States from 1982-1988. He only lost the top spot in 1989 when the Forbes Magazine editors started to credit his fortune jointly to him and his four children. Wal-Mart is in operation in the US and in 15 international markets. The University of Arkansas named their Business College in his honor, the “Sam M. Walton College of Business”. Based on his achievements and widely adopted entrepreneurial philosophy, he was inducted into the Junior Achievement US Business Hall of Fame in 1992.
Sam Walton’s Entrepreneurial Philosophy
- Commit to your business and believe in it more than anyone else.
- Share your profits with all your associates, and treat them as partners.
- Motivate and challenge your partners.
- Communicate everything possible to partners.
- Appreciate everything employees do for you.
- Celebrate successes and find humor in failures.
- Listen to everyone in your company and figure out ways to get them talking.
- Exceed your customer’s expectations.
- Control expenses better than your competition.
- Swim upstream, ignore conventional wisdom.