My wife and I were browsing a bookstore recently. I wandered upon this book by Charles Fishman and was intrigued enough to buy it. It outlines not only the history of the Wal-Mart empire but also delves into some of the social and economic issues that the world's largest retailer has to contend with.
The Wal-Mart Effect is a pretty light read (I got through it in about four hours) and has some pretty interesting stories about Wal-Mart and the sky-high expectations it places on its suppliers to deliver the absolute best pricing to its customers. It not only talks about the positive impacts to the consumer but also the negative and sometimes disastrous impact it can have on employees, suppliers, and competitors. Following is the table of contents:
2. Sam Walton's Ten-Pound Bass
3. Makin Bacon, a Wal-Mart Fairy Tale
4. The Squeeze
5. The Man Who Said No to Wal-Mart
6. What Do We Actually Know About Wal-Mart?
7. Salmon, Shirts, and the Meaning of Low Prices
8. The Power of Pennies
9. Wal-Mart and the Decent Society
There were a few nuggets that I was able to glean from the book, as follows:
Pennies matter - as a small business owner I know that a penny saved is a penny earned. I hate wasting money on non-essential items; Wal-Mart built its empire on this fundamental tenet.
Never be satisfied - the moment a business owner becomes content with his or her business is the day they let the competition take over and steal business away.
Enforce accountability - Management is held to stringent goals and being off by even the smallest margin
is considered unacceptable
Work-life balance is up to you, not your employer - Fishman talks about mandatory Saturday sales meetings and recounts stories by Wal-Mart management of how they've given their all for the company at the
expense of family. There's nothing admirable about sacrificing your family and friends for any job; take control of your own work-life balance destiny.
All-in-all, not a bad read. Some good nuggets as well as a reminder of how we need to not let what we do professionally take over and consume our lives as professionals.