By Patricia Sellers
March 27, 2009

“Every single day you have to win. You have to win that experiential battle every single time.”

– Best Buy

CEO-to-be Brian Dunn during a recent visit to Fortune. A 24-year Best Buy vet, he was recalling the mid-90s when “Circuit City had us on the ropes. They took for granted that we were over.” Dunn was in the trenches, leading a region for the electronics retailer, back then. “To me, it was never under consideration that we were over.” His bosses were Dick Schulze and Brad Anderson, Best Buy’s former and current CEOs. They kept telling the troops: “This is on you.” Dunn says, “That expectation of personal responsibility is key.”

Best Buy–which ended up driving Circuit City out of business this year–today reported a quarterly profit decline. But earnings were well above expectations, and the stock shot up 13% to $37.67. Best Buy’s surprise helped drive the Dow up 175 points.

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