Exclusive Interview Tells Story of Wal-Mart's Rise to Top

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The Soderquist Center released a preview of an exclusive interview today with retired CEO David Glass and COO Don Soderquist.

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Leading the World's Largest Company

How do you run a hundred billion dollar company? I have no idea. You do it one customer at a time, one store at a time, one associate at a time.

When asked by analysts, "How do you run a hundred billion dollar company?" retired Chief Executive Officer of Wal-Mart David Glass in a video released by The Soderquist Center today responded, "I have no idea. You do it one customer at a time, one store at a time, one associate at a time."

Wal-Mart was recently renamed Fortune 1 by Fortune Magazine.

David Glass and Don Soderquist were at the helm of Wal-Mart during the most explosive growth the company has ever seen. In the video, the two men discuss the early days of building the world's largest company.

During their tenure Walmart's sales grew more than $200 billion. In the video posted today by The Soderquist Center, Glass and Soderquist discuss business leadership principles like the importance of predetermining results, cultivating mavericks, and taking risks.

"Incremental improvement is nice," Glass says, "and if that's all you can get, then I guess that's better than not improving. It's like saying, let's all go work really hard and see if we can't do better this year than we did last year. We never did that. We set the bar a lot higher. We predetermined results."

Glass goes on to tell the back story that led Sam Walton to perform a Hula dance on Wall Street. "Someone said we could make 8% pre-tax as a company. Sam said there's no way. Sam said if we made 8%, he would do the Hula on Wall Street. In the end, we made the 8%."

"We wanted to maintain this entrepreneurial spirit," Soderquist says. "I remember Sam talking about it, and we talked about it too--Don't kill the mavericks. That's where your new ideas come from. If you left it up to the daily operators, they'd kill the mavericks because it doesn't fit the mold."

Glass adds, "You and I used to cultivate mavericks. They are hard to manage. They're constantly doing things that you have to clean up. But, they make you better."

Soderquist spent over 20 years with Wal-Mart, and after Sam Walton died, he became known as “The Keeper of the Culture.”

"You always have to take the risks," says Soderquist. "I used to say, take risks, change, just don't bet the farm."

The video is available online at The Soderquist Center's website - http://www.soderquist.org/videos/leading-the-worlds-largest-company.html

The Soderquist Center is a premier provider of values-based leadership, organizational, and team development for organizations of all sizes, including several Fortune 500 companies.  Located on the campus of John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, the Center was founded in 1998 in honor of Don Soderquist, retired COO and Senior Vice-Chairman of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. For more information visit http://www.soderquist.org.


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