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What Would Sam Walton Do #8 – HIGH ACHIEVEMENT CULTURE


The more they know, the more they’ll understand. The more they understand, the more they’ll care. Once they care, there’s no stopping them.” Sam Walton


Create a Cultural Expectation of Above Average Results


Intuitively, Sam Walton knew that retail marketing is all about the “4-P’s”: having the right products, at the right price, in the right place, with the right promotion. He was well aware his competitors (and every other business) all know the “4-P” part of the success formula, as well.

Sam Walton knew the successful execution of the “4-P’s” alone was not enough to keep Walmart out in front of the competition. Regardless of how well his team picked products, set competitive prices, strategically placed merchandise on the shelves, and promoted them, he knew his competitors were doing exactly the same thing. In fact his competitors could literally walk into one of his stores and observe and copy Walmart’s “4 P’s” seven days a week; Walmart’s team could do the same in reverse.

Sam Walton wasn’t out to simply copy the successful strategies used by his competitors. He was on an endless search to find the illusive sustainable competitive advantage to catapult his business ahead of the competition! For this reason, Sam Walton was always out to do more and he was always willing to try new ideas; you might say he embraced change like a welcomed friend! Never complacent, he sought ways to improve every aspect of the Walmart success formula each and every day. He was constantly searching for better, faster and smarter ways to continuously improve his stores in search of ways to substantially differentiate them from those of his competitors.

Sam Walton figured out the key to creating a sustainable competitive advantage in the retail marketplace was by adding a “5th P” to his success formula: PEOPLE. He knew his merchandise wouldn’t stock itself, jump off the shelves and fly out the door without enthusiastic, fully engaged people working together as a high performing team, and serving his customers!

One of the great secrets of Sam Walton’s success was his belief that his employees were his “associates”, which meant they were his business partners. Sam Walton hired hard working, mostly average people, yet he set standards at above average levels. He hired people who exhibited a “good attitude” and then he taught them “The Walmart Way” of doing things at high performance levels. Walmart’s Associates did not want to let Mr. Sam down so they would do what it took to meet or exceed his lofty standards; he had a unique ability to bring out the loyalty, dedication and the best in people.

Sam Walton believed his competitors could copy the first “4-P’s” of the Walmart strategy with little difficulty, but they could never replicate that “5th P” which is Walmart’s incredible army of dedicated, high achieving people. By focusing on that all important “5th P” Mr. Sam transformed Walmart’s People Culture into one of its greatest sustainable competitive advantages.


What Would Sam Walton Do #8 – HIGH ACHIEVEMENT CULTURE: Sam Walton’s recommendation to other business leaders would be: “Always set your goals high with the expectation your team must stretch in order to reach them!”


Your team can learn more about “Walmart’s HIGH ACHIEVEMENT CULTURE” from Michael Bergdahl’s book and speech titled: What I Learned from Sam Walton.

Michael Bergdahl is the author of 5 books and he is an international keynote speaker and master class leader. He worked with Sam Walton and he is an expert on Walmart’s Best Leadership Practices.

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