Sam Walton’s Made in America: A short review.


This interesting autobiography of Sam Walton, the founder and chairman of Wal-mart Stores is also a story of the largest retailing outfit in the world. The 196-page book was published in 1992 and according to Sam Walton in the foreword, the purpose of the book is to tell the story of Wal-Mart the way it really happened and help some other folks down the line take these same principles, apply them to their dreams and make them come true.

One of the really exciting things about the book is how it highlights the growth of Wal-mart and proves that there is really no limit to what plain ordinary people can accomplish if they're given the opportunity, encouragement and the incentive to do their best. It also tells the story in down-to-earth, easy-to-understand terms that one can readily relate to.

High expectations are the key to everything. -Sam Walton, @Walmart founder Click To Tweet

There is a weaving of the life of Sam, his life principles and attitudes together with the story of Wal-mart, from the humble beginnings of its worldwide growth. Early on in the book, the reader is introduced to the life of Sam Walton – you discover that to him, eventually accumulating money or the showy lifestyle of the rich is not the motivation for his life, instead according to Charlie Baum (an early partner), “What motivates the man is the desire to absolutely be on top of the heap.”

In the first chapter, the frugal nature of Sam is revealed in how much he believes in the value of a dollar and how that is one of the undergirding principles of Walmart: providing value to customers and in addition to quality and service, saving customers as much money as possible. By saving customers’ money, Wal-mart moves one further step ahead of the competition.

There are lots of lessons to learn from this book but perhaps the most important lesson of all is that the story of Wal-Mart is the story of Sam Walton; the entire idea of retailing is a natural offshoot of Sam’s person, personality, and passions. Other important factors that go into making Wal-Mart the colossus it is now include Sam’s almost restless need to experiment and try out new things – literally streaming upstream, his ability to learn from mistakes without beating himself over the head and sinking into depression; it's said about Sam Walton that he wakes up every morning seeking to improve something.

I had to pick myself up, do it over again, only even better this time. -Sam Walton Click To Tweet

While there was a lot of forward thinking involved in the growth of Wal-mart, there is also this strong theme that runs under the surface in Made in America. It is the significance of team work and well, the need to involve family in the business; while Sam had a full day running the business, he still found enough time together with Helen his wife to instill lasting values in his four children, maintain the love and involvement on the home front and involve every member of the family in the business.

Overall, the book is a great read. Of course initially, one gets the idea that Sam Walton is someone who was just blessed and like the legendary Midas, has the magical touch of gold; but on a more reflective reading, you see an ordinary man who while he made good use of the opportunities presented to him (and that includes all the great people he was privileged to have relationships with both inside and outside the business world) was a driven man who just went all out and decided to be a success.

At the end, one gets the gist and see that Sam’s purpose for writing the book has been fulfilled.

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