The Story of Sam Walton


Thomas and Nancy Lee Walton’s first son was born in 1918 and grew up poor in a farm community in rural Missouri during the Great Depression. He worked his way through college by delivering newspapers and working as a lifeguard. After getting out of the army he bought his first department store with savings and by borrowing $20,000 from his father-in law.

In 1962, he got the idea of opening bigger stores, keeping costs low and discounting heavily. He was unable to get anyone to invest in his idea so he decided to start his own company which he called, Wal-Mart. When Sam Walton died in 1992, his family’s net worth approached $25 billion. Today, Wal-Mart is the world’s #1 retailer, with more than 4,100 stores. Mr. Walton’s book, Running a Successful Company: Ten Rules that Worked for Me, lists his ten rules for success. Rule number one is commit to your business:

Believe in [your business] more than anybody else. 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. 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.

As Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “There are plenty of rules for attaining success, but none of them work unless you do!” Regardless of your personal feelings for Walmart, you have to respect Mr. Walton’s courage and tenacity.