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Chapter 11 Creating a Culture
  ' "Sam's establishment of the Walton culture throughout the company was the key to the whole thing. It'sjust incomparable. He is the greatest | businessman of this century."HARRY CUNNINGHAM, :founded Kmart Stores while CEO of S. S. Kresge Co.

Not many companies out there gather several hundred of their executives, managers, and associatestogether every Saturday morning at seven-thirty to talk about business. Even fewer would begin such ameeting by having their chairman call the Hogs. That's one of my favorite ways to wake everybody up,by doing the University of Arkansas's Razorback cheer, real early on a Saturday. You probably have tobe there to appreciate the full effect, but it goes like this:

Whoooooooooooooooooooo Pig. Sooey! Whooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Pig. Sooey!

Whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Pig.

Sooey! RAZORBACKS!!!!!

And if I'm leading the cheer, you'd better believe we do it loud. I have another cheer I lead whenever Ivisit a store: our own Wal-Mart cheer. The associates did it for President and Mrs. Bush when they werehere in Bentonville not long ago, and you could see by the look on their faces that they weren't used tothis kind of enthusiasm. For those of you who don't know, it goes like this:

Give Me a W!

Give Me an A!

Give Me an L!

Give Me a Squiggly!

(Here, everybody sort of does the twist.)Give Me an M!

Give Me an A!

Give Me an R!

Give Me a T!

What's that spellWal-Mart!

What's that spellWal-Mart!

Who's number oneTHE CUSTOMER!

I know most companies don't have cheers, and most board chairmen probably wouldn't lead them evenif they did. But then most companies don't have folks like Mike "Possum" Johnson, who entertained usone Saturday morning back when he was safety director by taking on challengers in a no-holds-barredpersimmon-seed-spitting contest, using Robert Rhoads, our company general counsel, as the officialtarget. Most companies also don't have a gospel group called the Singing Truck Drivers, or amanagement singing group called Jimmy Walker and the Accountants.

My feeling is that just because we work so hard, we don't have to go around with long faces all the time,taking ourselves seriously, pretending we're lost in thought over weighty problems. At Wal-Mart, if youhave some important business problem on your mind, you should be bringing it out in the open at aFriday morning session called the merchandising meeting or at the Saturday morning meeting, so we canall try to solve it together. But while we're doing all this work, we like to have a good time. It's sort of a"whistle while you work" philosophy, and we not only have a heck of a good time with it, we work betterbecause of it. We build spirit and excitement. We capture the attention of our folks and keep theminterested, simply because they never know what's coming next. We break down barriers, which helps uscommunicate better with one another. And we make our people feel part of a family in which no one istoo important or too puffed up to lead a cheer or be the butt of a jokeor the target in apersimmon-seed-spitting contest.

We don't pretend to have invented the idea of a strong corporate culture, and we've been aware of a lotof the others that have come before us. In the early days of IBM, some of the things Tom Watson didwith his slogans and group activities weren't all that different from the things we do. And, as I've said,we've certainly borrowed every good idea we've come across. Helen and I picked up several ideas on atrip we took to Korea and Japan in 1975. A lot of the things they do over there are very easy to apply todoing business over here. Culturally, things seem so differentlike sitting on the floor eating eels andsnailsbut people are people, and what motivates one group generally will motivate another.


"Sam took me out to see this tennis ball factory, somewhere east of Seoul. The company sold balls toWal-Mart, I guess, and they treated us very well. It was the dirtiest place I ever saw in my life, but Samwas very impressed. It was the first place he ever saw a group of workers have a company cheer. Andhe liked the idea of everybody doing calisthenics together at the beginning of the day. He couldn't wait toget home and try those ideas out in the stores and at the Saturday morning meeting."Back in 1984, people outside the company began to realize just how different we folks at Wal-Mart are.

That was the year I lost a bet to David Glass and had to pay up by wearing a grass skirt and doing thehula on Wall Street. I thought I would slip down there and dance, and David would videotape it so hecould prove to everyone back at the Saturday morning meeting that I really did it, but when we got there,it turned out David had hired a truckload of real hula dancers and ukulele playersand he had alerted thenewspapers and TV networks. We had all kinds of trouble with the police about permits, and thedancers' union wouldn't let them dance without heaters because it was so cold, and we finally had to getpermission from the head of Merrill Lynch to dance on his steps. Eventually, though, I slipped on thegrass skirt and the Hawaiian shirt and the leis over my suit and did what I think was a pretty fair hula. Itwas too good a picture to pass up, I guessthis crazy chairman of the board from Arkansas in this sillycostumeand it ran everywhere. It was one of the few times one of our company stunts reallyembarrassed me. But at Wal-Mart, when you make a bet like I didthat we couldn't possibly produce apretax profit of more than 8 percentyou always pay up. Doing the hula was nothing compared towrestling a bear, which is what Bob Schneider, once a warehouse manager in Palestine, Texas, had to doafter he lost a bet with his crew that they couldn't beat a production record.

Most folks probably thought we just had a wacky chairman who was pulling a pretty primitive publicitystunt. What they didn't realize is that this sort of stuff goes on all the time at Wal-Mart. It's part of ourculture, and it runs through everything we do. Whether it's Saturday morning meetings or stockholders'

meetings or store openings or just normal days, we always have tried to make life as interesting and asunpredictable as we can, and to make Wal-Mart a fun proposition. We're constantly doing crazy thingsto capture the attention of our folks and lead them to think up surprises of their own. We like to see themdo wild things in the stores that are fun for the customers and fun for the associates. If you're committedto the Wal-Mart partnership and its core values, the culture encourages you to think up all sorts of ideasthat break the mold and fight monotony.

We know that our anticsour company cheers or our songs or my hulacan sometimes be pretty corny,or hokey. We couldn't care less. Sure, it's a little strange for a vice president to dress in pink tights and along blond wig and ride a white horse around the Bentonville town square, as Charlie Self did in 1987,after he lost a Saturday morning meeting bet that December sales wouldn't top $1.3 billion. And it is oddfor a former executive like Ron Loveless to come out of retirement at every year-end meeting andpresent his annual LEIR report, the Loveless Economic Indicator Report, based on the number of edibledead chickens found on the roadsidewith charts and graphs and the whole bit. (The harder times are,the fewer edibles you find on the roadside.)Maybe it is a little hokey to surprise your president with the gift of a live pig, but that's what a Sam'sClub crew did to David Glass at one meeting to kick off a sales competition with a football theme. Theytold him they had planned to give him a pigskin, then decided, what the heck, why not leave the pig in it.

For that matter, how many other $50 billion companies would have their president put on overalls and astraw hat and ride a donkey around a parking lot That's what we made David do at the Harrison storeto make up for having toldFortune magazine his story about the donkey and the watermelons at thatstore's 1964 opening. Who knows what our competitors thought when they got their issue ofDiscountStore News that week and saw our president sitting on a jackass right there on the front pageSome of this culture grew naturally out of our small-town beginnings. Back then, we tried literally tocreate a carnival atmosphere in our stores. We were only in small towns then, and often there wasn't awhole lot else to do for entertainment that could beat going to the Wal-Mart. As I told you, we'd havethese huge sidewalk sales, and we'd have bands and little circuses in our parking lots to get folks to thosesales. We'd have plate drops, where we'd write the names of prizes on paper plates and sail them off theroofs of the stores. We'd have balloon drops. We'd have Moonlight Madness sales, which usually wouldbegin after normal closing hours and maybe last until midnight, with some new bargain or promotion beingannounced every few minutes.

We'd play shopping-cart bingowhere each shopping cart has a number, and if your number is called,you get a discount on whatever you have in the cart. At store openings, we'd stand on the servicecounters and give away boxes of candy to the customers who had traveled the farthest to get there. Aslong as it Was fun, we'd try it. Occasionally it blew up in our face.

One year, on George Washington's birthday, Phil Green (remember the world's largest Tide display)ran an ad saying his Fayetteville store was selling a television set for twenty-two centsthe birthday beingon February 22. The only hitch was that before you could buy that television set you had to find it first.

Phil had hidden it somewhere in the store, and the first person to find it, got it. When Phil arrived at thestore that morning, there was such a crowd out front that you couldn't even see the doors. I think all ofFayetteville was there, and a lot of them had been there all night. Our folks had to go in through the back.

When they finally opened the front doors, there was a stampede like you wouldn't believe: five hundredor six hundred people tearing through that store looking for one twenty-two-cent television set. Phil solda ton that day, but the place was so totally out of control that even he admitted playing hide-and-seekwith merchandise was a terrible idea.

As we've grown, we've gotten away from the circus approach, but we've made it a point to keepencouraging the spirit of fun in the stores. We want the associates and the management to do thingstogether that contribute to the community and make them feel like a team, even if they don't directly relateto selling or promoting our merchandise. Here are a few of the crazy kinds of things I'm talking about:

Our Fairbury, Nebraska, store has a "precision shopping-cart drill team" that marches in local parades.

The members all wear Wal-Mart smocks and push their carts through a routine of whirls, twirls, circles,and crossovers.

Our Cedartown, Georgia, store holds a kiss-the-pig contest to raise money for charity. They set outjars with each manager's name on them, and the manager whose jar winds up with the most donationshas to kiss a pig.

Our New Iberia, Louisiana, store fields a cheer-leading squad called the Shrinkettes. Their cheers dealmostly with, what else cutting shrinkage: "WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT SHRINKAGE CRUSH IT!

CRUSH IT!" The Shrinkettes stole the show at one of our annual meetings with cheers like:

"CALIFORNIA ORANGES, TEXAS CACTUS, WE THINK KMART COULD USE SOMEPRACTICE!"Our Fitzgerald, Georgia, store won first place in the Irwin County Sweet Potato Parade with a floatfeaturing seven associates dressed as fruits and vegetables grown in south Georgia. As they passed thejudging stand, the homegrown fruits and vegetables did a homegrown Wal-Mart cheer.

Managers: from our Ozark, Missouri, store dressed up in pink tutus, got on the back of a flatbed truck,and cruised the town square on Friday night, the peak time for teenage cruisers, and somehow managedto raise money for charity by doing it.

As you can see, we thrive on a lot of the traditions of small-town America, especially parades withmarching bands, cheerleaders, drill teams, and floats. Most of us grew up with it, and we've found that itcan be even more fun when you're an adult who usually spends all your time working. We love all kindsof contests, and we hold them all the time for everything from poetry to singing to beautiful babies. Welike theme days, where everyone in the store dresses up in costume. Our Ardmore, Oklahoma, storepiled hay in front of the store one day, mixed $36 in coins in itand let the kids dive into it. More of ourstores than you would believe hold ladies' fashion shows using ugly old men from the stores as models.

Some of our people greetersthe associates who meet our customers as they come in the dooruse theirhigh-profile positions to have a little fun. Artie Hopper, the greeter in Huntsville, Arkansas, dresses in adifferent costume for every holidayincluding Hawgfest, a local celebration.

Then there's the World Championship Moon Pie Eating Contest.

I already told you how I pushed Moon Pies as my item one year and sold $6 million worth. But theMoon Pie contest started back in 1985, when John Love, an assistant manager at the time in Oneonta,Alabama, accidentally ordered four or five times more Moon Pies than he intended to and found himselfup to his eyeballs in them. Desperate, John came up with the idea of a Moon Pie Eating Contest as a wayto move the Moon Pies out before they went bad on him. Who would have thought something like thatwould catch on Now it's an annual event, held every fallon the second Saturday in Octoberin theparking lot of our Oneonta store. It draws spectators from several states and has been written up innewspapers and covered by television literally all over the world. As of this writing, by the way, theworld record for Moon Pie eating is sixteen double deckers in ten minutes. It was set in 1990 by a guynamed Mort Hurst, who bills himself as "the Godzilla of Gluttony."Corny How could you get any cornier than that But when folks get together and do this sort of sillystuff it's really impossible to measure just how good it is for their morale. To know that you're supposedto have a good time, that there's no place for stuffed shirts, or at least that they always get theircomeuppance, is a very uplifting thing for all of us.

Take our Saturday morning meetings, for example. Without a little entertainment and a sense of theunpredictable, how in the world could we ever have gotten those hundreds of peoplemost of ourmanagers and some associates from the general offices here in Bentonvilleto get up every Saturdaymorning and actually come in here with smiles on their faces If they knew all they could expect in thatmeeting was somebody droning on about comparative numbers, followed by a serious lecture on theproblems of our business, could we have kept the meeting alive No way. No matter how strongly I feltabout the necessity of that meeting, the folks would have revolted, and even if we still held it, it wouldn'tbe any good at all. As it is, the Saturday morning meeting is at the very heart of the Wal-Mart culture.

Don't get me wrong. We don't get up and go down there just to have fun. That Saturday morningmeeting is very much about business. Its purpose is to let everyone know what the rest of the company isup to. If we can, we find heroes among our associates in the stores and bring them in to Bentonville,where we praise them in front of the whole meeting. Everybody likes praise, and we look for everychance we can to heap it on somebody. But I don't like to go to the meeting and hear about just the goodthings that are happening. I like to hear what our weaknesses are, where we aren't doing as well as weshould and why. I like to see aproblem come up and then hear suggestions as to how it can be corrected.

If we decide we're doing something wrong, and the solution is obvious, we can order changes right thenand carry them out over the weekend, while most everybody else in the retail business is off.

The Saturday morning meeting is where we discuss and debate much of our philosophy and ourmanagement strategy: it is the focal point of all our communications efforts. It's where we share ideaswe've picked up from various places. And while it's not the most exciting part of the meeting, sometimesI like to read from management articles that pertain to our business. Two of our executives, WesleyWright and Colon Washburn, seem to read just about everything there is in the way of managementliterature, and they're constantly calling useful articles or books to my attention. At the meeting, we'll talkabout competitors, specifically, but also in general. For example, we'll spend ten minutes talking abouthow Wal-Mart can compete successfully with all the good specialty retailers coming onto the scene. It'soften the place where we first decide to try things that seem unattainable. And instead of everybodyshouting it down right away, we try to figure out how to make it work. That's exactly how I ended updancing the hula on Wall Street, by making that bet at a Saturday morning meeting. And, as embarrassingas it was to have to dance on Wall Street, believe me, achieving a pretax profit of more than 8 percent,when most everybody else in the retail industry averages about half that, made it well worth the red face.


"The great thing about the Saturday morning meeting is how totally unpredictable it is. Sometimes youget your soul bared in there. By that I mean somebody may not have been doing their job so well, andthey don't get publicly castigated, but they get gently chided in front of everybody. Or it can be a form ofcounseling. I'll never forget the chairman saying to me one time in front of everybody that I ought to stopand think sometimes before I talked. And I had it coming. I was being really derogatory in my remarks,really sticking it to another division of the company pretty hard, and it wasn't the right place to do it. Iwas publicly counseled in that meeting and it stuck.

"Another time, the chairman decided I was going to have to stand up there and sing 'Red River Valley' ata meeting three weeks away. He knew I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket but he made a bigger andbigger deal out of it every week until finally I had to put a group together to sing it so nobody would hearonly me. I always figured he just wanted to force me into doing something in public that I wasn't so goodat, and that way I had to eat a little humble pie. Anyway, I believe those meetings are managed fun, and Ithink the chairman manages them very discreetly. He knows when he wants it to be serious, and heknows when he wants it to be fun. Sometimes it's very democratic, and sometimes it's very dictatorial.

But he uses it for basically three purposes: to share information, to lighten everybody's load, and to rallythe troops. Believe it or not, the majority of our folks wouldn't miss a Saturday morning meeting foranything."For the meeting to work, it has to be something of a show. We don't ever want to let it becomepredictable. One day, we might do a few calisthenics. Another day we might sing. Or maybe do theRazorback cheer. We don't want to plan it all out. We just want it to unfold. It is so unconventional that Idon't think anyone could really duplicate it even if they wanted to. We have lots of guests, and our folksnever know who's going to be there. One day we might have an executive from a company we dobusiness with. It might be somebody they never heard of from some small entrepreneurial outfit with agood idea, or it might be somebody like Jack Welch, the CEO of GE. On the other hand, it might be thecomedian Jonathan Winters, who started coming to promote Hefty Bags, one of our vendors' products,and has returned several times. He really cracks everybody up. One time we had a mock boxing matchbetween Sugar Ray Leonard and me. We ask a lot of athletes to join us. Sidney Moncrief, an NBA starand former Razorback great, is one of my favorites, and Fran Tarkenton, the former NFL quarterback,who does a lot of motivational talks, has also spoken at the meeting. Just recently, Garth Brooks, thecountry singer from Oklahoma, dropped by Wal-Mart for a visit with some of our folks.


"One of the real values of our meeting is its spontaneity. We never really have an agenda. Of course thechairman always has his yellow legal pad with notes scribbled on it of things he wants to discuss, andsome of the rest of us do the same thing. But one of the things Sam will do is just call someone up at thestart and say, 'Okay, you conduct the whole meeting today.' And that meeting will take on the personalityof whoever's running it. That way, there's always a sense of anticipation. Something unusual may happen,or somebody may pull off something great."From the time we started the Saturday meeting, with just four or five store managers getting togethersomewhere to talk merchandising, it has been a very difficult thing to develop, and there's been a lot ofopposition to it, including from my own wife, who I've already told you believes it's unfair to take ourfolks away from their families on Saturday mornings. There have definitely been times when our folkswould have voted it out if we had given them the opportunity. But as I've said, I believe Saturday work ispart of the commitment that comes with choosing a career in retail. I can't see asking our folks in thestores to make that sacrifice while our managers are off playing golf.

Very few outsiders ever get to see our Saturday meetings. So the event that gives people the mostinsight into our corporate culture, the place where they really get a chance to see the Wal-Mart chemistryin action, is our annual stockholders' meeting. I told you how it began as an attempt to do somethingdifferent for the analysts, taking them on float trips and making them camp out. But since then it's growninto what is probably the largest corporate annual meeting in the world. It's gotten so big nowwith over10,000 shareholders and gueststhat we hold it down in Fayetteville at Barnhill Arena, the University ofArkansas's basketball coliseum. Soon we'll be holding it in the new Bud Walton Arena they're buildingdown there, and I know my brother will really take a lot of pride in that.

In some ways, our annual meeting is a bigger version of the kind of show we have on Saturdaymornings. We have entertainers, like Reba McEntire, the popular country singer, and we have guestspeakers. In other ways, it's a lot like the meetings of many companiesonly louder. We makepresentations to the shareholders, which focus on our accomplishments over the past year and on ourgoals and plans for the coming one. But what I think really sets our meeting apart is the degree to whichwe involve our associates, who, after all, are some of our most important shareholders.

We have always included as many store managers and associates as possible in our annual meeting, tolet them see the scope of the whole company and grasp the big picture. We started out letting every storeand every distribution center elect an associate to represent them at the meeting. Because we've gottenso big now, I'm sorry to say we've had to stagger the thing. The distribution centers and the Sam's Clubsstill send someone every year, but Wal-Mart Stores only send a delegate every other year.

Really, the official part of the meeting takes a backseat to everything else we do, and a couple of timeswe've been having so much fun that we've actually forgotten to convene the real meeting. We gather ourassociates early on Friday morning, around seven o'clock, for a real rousing warm-up, a premeetingmeeting. We do our cheers and our songs, and raise all sorts of cain. We salute retirees. We bring in allthe department managers whose departments have the highest percentage of sales relative to their stores'

overall sales. And we recognize the department managers who have the highest sales companywide. Wecall up the truck drivers who've won the safety awards for the best driving records, and we honor them.

We applaud associates who have created particularly successful displays, or who have won one of ourVPI (Volume Producing Item) contests, and we honor them. The point is that we're not there to honorour shareholders as much as we are to let them meet the folks who are responsible for the amazingreturns on their investments year after year.

After the meeting, Helen and I invite all the associates who attendabout 2,500 of themover to ourhouse for a big picnic lunch catered by our own Wal-Mart cafeteria. It's a lot of pressure on Helen; notmany wives would put up with that kind of crowd streaming through the yard and the house, but I thinkit's one of the best things we do, and in the end both Helen and I really enjoy it a lot. It gives us a chanceto visit with many of our associates who we would otherwise never get to see in a social setting like that.

They tend to be the leaders in their stores, which is how they get elected to come. And even with thatcrush of people there, I still have the opportunity to ask them, "How are we doing at Litchfield, Illinois"Or "How's your manager working out in Branson, Missouri" And in a very short time, I can get a prettygood idea from their level of enthusiasm just how things are going in a particular store, and if I hearsomething I don't like, I just might be out there visiting it within the next week or two.

When the whole thing is over, the guest associates are sent a videotape of the meeting, and they'resupposed to share that, and their impressions of the meeting, with their associates who didn't get to go.

And, of course, we write a detailed account of the meeting in our company newspaper,Wal-Mart World,so everybody gets a chance to read exactly what we did. We like to think that this kind of meeting bringsus all closer together, and creates the feeling that we are a family committed to one common interest.

We want our associates to know and feel how much we, as managers and major shareholders,appreciate everything they are doing to make Wal-Mart the great company that it is.

A strong corporate culture with its own unique personality, on top of the profit-sharing partnership we'vecreated, gives us a pretty sharp competitive edge. But a culture like ours can create some problems of itsown too. The main one that comes to mind is a resistance to change. When folks buy into a way of doingthings, and really believe it's the best way, they develop a tendency to think that's exactly the way thingsshould always be done. So I've made it my own personal mission to ensure that constant change is a vitalpart of the Wal-Mart culture itself. I've forced changesometimes for change's sake aloneat every turn inour company's development. In fact, I think one of the greatest strengths of Wal-Mart's ingrained cultureis its ability to drop everything and turn on a dime.

We're great at that kind of change when it comes to operating challenges, but sometimes not so great onmatters that have more to do with the culture of the company. In the early days, for example, all our oldvariety store managers had a tremendous prejudice against us hiring college boys because they didn'tthink they would work hard enough. Three of the first ones we hiredBill Fields, Dean Sanders, andColon Wash-burnare still with us and, in fact, are among our brightest stars. But they had a heck of atime fitting in at first and could probably tell some real horror stories.


"I had been with the company about five days, and we were opening a store in Idabel, Oklahoma. Wehad thirteen days to open it, which is still a record. They worked me about 125 hours or more the firstweek. The second week it was getting worse. Then Samwho knew who I was because I was a localBentonville boycomes walking up to me and says, 'Who hired you' I told him that Ferold Arend had,and he said, 'Well, do you think you'll ever be a merchant' Just the way he said it made me mad enoughto want to quit. Then Don Whitaker came walking up to me and looked at me almost like he smelledsomething bad, and said, 'Who in thehell hired you' At the time, it didn't seem like going to college wasmuch of an advantage in this company. We really had to prove ourselves to those old guys."Obviously if we were going to grow, we had to bring in college-educated folks. But at first, the culturetried to reject them. And now that we have even more complicated needsin technology, finance,marketing, legal, whateverour demand for a more sophisticated work force is growing all the time. Allthis requires some basic changes in the way we think about ourselves, about who's a good Wal-Mart hirefor tomorrow and about what we can do for the folks already on board. That's one reason Helen and Istarted the Walton Institute down at the University of Arkansas in Fort Smith. It's a place where ourmanagers can go and get exposure to some of the educational opportunities they may not have hadearlier on. Also, we as a company need to do whatever we can to encourage and help our associatesearn their college degrees. We need these folks to get the best training they possibly can. It opens uptheir career opportunities, and it benefits us.

Traditionally, we've had this attitude that if you wanted to be a manager at Wal-Mart, you basically hadto be willing to move on a moment's notice. You get a call that says you're going to open a new store500 miles away, you don't ask questions. You just pack and go, then sometime later you worry aboutselling your house and moving your family. Maybe that was necessary back in the old days, and maybe itwas more rigid than it needed to be. Now, though, it's not really appropriate anymore for severalreasons. First, as the company grows bigger, we need to find more ways to stay in touch with thecommunities where we operate, and one of the best ways to do that is by hiring locally, developingmanagers locally, and letting them have a career in their home communityif they perform. Second, theold way really put good, smart women at a disadvantage in our company because at that time theyweren't as free to pick up and move as many men were. Now I've seen the light on the opportunities wemissed out on with women. (I have to admit that Helen and my daughter Alice have helped me comearound to this way of thinking.)In the old days, retailers felt the same way about women that they did about college boys, only more so.

In addition to thinking women weren't free to move, they didn't think women could handle anything butthe clerk jobs because the managers usually did so much physical laborunloading trucks and haulingmerchandise out of the stockroom on a two-wheeler, mopping the floors and cleaning the windows ifnecessary. Nowadays, the industry has waked up to the fact that women make great retailers. So we atWal-Mart, along with everybody else, have to do everything we possibly can to recruit and attractwomen.

One other aspect of the Wal-Mart culture which has attracted some attention is simply a matter oflifestyle, but it is one that has bothered me ever since we began to be really successful. The fact is, a lotof folks in our company have made an awful lot of money. We've had lots and lots of millionaires in ourranks. And it just drives me crazy when they flaunt it. Maybe it's none of my business, but I've doneeverything I can to discourage our folks from getting too extravagant with their homes and theirautomobiles and their lifestyles. As I said earlier, I just don't believe the lifestyle here in Bentonville shouldbe much different than what would be high moderate income in most other places. But from time to timeI've had a hard time holding back folks who have never had the opportunity to get their hands on the kindof money they've made with their Wal-Mart stock holdings. Every now and then somebody will dosomething particularly showy, and I don't hesitate to rant and rave about it at the Saturday morningmeeting. And a lot of times, folks who just can't hold back will go ahead and leave the company.

It goes back to what I said about learning to value a dollar as a kid. I don't think that big mansions andflashy cars are what the Wal-Mart culture is supposed to be about. It's great to have the money to fallback on, and I'm glad some of these folks have been able to take off and go fishing at a fairly early age.

That's fine with me. But if you get too caught up in that good life, it's probably time to move on, simplybecause you lose touch with what your mind is supposed to be concentrating on: serving the customer.


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