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Sam Walton’s 10 rules of business still strike all the right chords

September 19, 2022, 10:15 AM UTC
Updated September 19, 2022, 5:59 PM UTC
A cashier scans items at a Walmart store in Burbank, California on August 15, 2022.
A cashier scans items at a Walmart in Burbank, Calif., in August 2022.

Good morning.

I was in Bentonville, Ark., last week for the first time in 15 years and was surprised to find what a lively little town it has become. No wonder my colleague Jessica Mathews, who writes Fortune’s Term Sheet newsletter, chose to make it her home during the pandemic, or that Steve Case—former AOL CEO turned champion of small-town startups—celebrates it as one of the nation’s heartland reinvention stories in his book The Rise of the Rest. (The book is out next week. I read a review copy and found it compelling. Who needs Silicon Valley?)

Much of the credit for Bentonville’s renaissance, of course, goes to the Walton family, which has invested heavily in the town, including building a world-class museum—Crystal Bridges—that I visited Friday afternoon.

But I started Friday at the Walmart Museum, which is a tribute to one of the greatest miracles of modern business—a scrappy five–and–dime store in Northwest Arkansas that somehow managed to become No. 1 on the Fortune 500 and the Fortune Global 500. Regular readers of this newsletter know I focus frequently on how leadership has changed in the past few decades. But I was struck by founder Sam Walton’s 10 rules of business, posted on the museum wall, which still seem to strike all the right chords. They are, in short form:

  1. Commit to your business.
  2. Share your profits with your associates.
  3. Motivate your partners.
  4. Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners.
  5. Appreciate everything your associates do for the business.
  6. Celebrate your successes.
  7. Listen to everyone in your company.
  8. Exceed your customers’ expectations.
  9. Control your expenses better than your competition.
  10. Swim upstream.

I particularly like the last one, which was Mr. Sam’s way of saying: “Disrupt yourself.” More details on the rules here. Other news below.

Alan Murray


Pandemic “over”

The U.S.’s COVID pandemic is “over,” President Joe Biden has declared in a CBS News interview—this particular pronouncement was reportedly not included in his prepared remarks. Biden said the country still has “a problem with COVID” and the White House is still pushing for fresh funding for vaccines, treatments, and tests, but “no one’s wearing masks, [and] everybody seems to be in pretty good shape.” As far as the World Health Organization is concerned, the world “can see the finish line” but “now is the worst time to stop running.” (P.S. Biden also repeated his assertion that the U.S. would defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion.) Fortune

Return to office

The return to U.S. offices is at its highest rate since the onset of the pandemic, with office use heading toward 50% of early-2020 levels, according to new data from Kastle Systems. Hybrid workplace strategies seem to be dominating. (Bonus read: Fortune’s Steve Mollman on how “everyone is wrong about the future of remote work.”) Wall Street Journal

Tech IPOs

On Wednesday, the U.S. will have had its longest period without any tech IPOs this century—238 days will outdo the droughts that followed the 2008 financial crisis and the early-2000s dotcom crash. The Nasdaq Composite is down nearly 28% this year, and the ongoing fight against inflation has created the kind of uncertainty that the IPO market hates. Financial Times


Million-dollar bonuses aren't enough to stop the C-suite exodus after a CEO departs, by Lila MacLellan

How Figma founder and college dropout Dylan Field went from being a LinkedIn intern to a billionaire in just a decade, by Lucy Brewster

General warns of Putin’s reaction as Ukraine war ‘not going too well,’ Russia ‘increasingly divorced’ from battlefield realities, by Steve Mollman

The World Bank warns the risk of a ‘global recession’ is rising as central banks worldwide raise rates simultaneously, by Will Daniel

We’re entering the next stage of the housing market downturn—3 things to expect heading forward, by Lance Lambert

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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