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50 Sam Walton Quotes That Add Great to Our Lives

Let these Sam Walton quotes and sayings inspire you on your journey to greatness.

Sam Walton was born in a small Oklahoman farming town. Farming didn’t provide his parents with enough income, and his dad eventually went to work in the mortgage industry with his brother.

Sam decided to head to college, hoping to have a better way to support his family. He graduated with a degree in economics but had done many jobs while he was a student, gaining experience in real-world situations.

Three days after graduating from college, J. C. Penney hired him as a management trainee. He worked there for 18 months before serving in the army during WWII. While serving in the army, he realized he wanted to open his own retailing business.

Sam’s first foray into captaining his own retail store was the purchase of a franchised Ben Franklin store in Newport, Arkansas. However, the landlord at that location ended up forcing Sam out when the lease was up, because of the store’s success and his desire to take over the store and give it to his son.

Keep reading these Sam Walton quotes to learn more about the man who founded your neighborhood Wal-Mart.

Don’t forget to also check out these greatness quotes that will inspire you to find your true potential.

Sam Walton quotes for bosses, managers, and leaders

1. “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” ― Sam Walton

2. “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” ― Sam Walton

3. “The way management treats associates is exactly how the associates will treat the customers.” ― Sam Walton

4. “Nothing else can quite substitute for a few, well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.” ― Sam Walton

5. “I learned early on that one of the secrets of campus leadership was the simplest thing of all: speak to people coming down the sidewalk before they speak to you. I would always look ahead and speak to the person coming toward me. If I knew them, I would call them by name, but even if I didn’t, I would still speak to them.” ― Sam Walton

6. “Celebrate your successes. Find some humor in your failures.” ― Sam Walton

7. “Capital isn’t scarce; vision is.” ― Sam Walton

8. “All of us profit from being corrected – if we’re corrected in a positive way.” ― Sam Walton

9. “I learned this early on in the variety business: You’ve got to give folks responsibility, you’ve got to trust them, and then you’ve got to check on them.” ― Sam Walton

10. “Great ideas come from everywhere if you just listen and look for them. You never know who’s going to have a great idea.” ― Sam Walton

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11. “One person seeking glory doesn’t accomplish very much.” ― Sam Walton

Sam Walton quotes about expectations and taking care of people

12. “High expectations are the key to everything.” ― Sam Walton

13. “Exceed your customer’s expectations. If you do, they’ll come back over and over. Give them what they want – and a little more.” ― Sam Walton

14. “Give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same things as rich people.” ― Sam Walton

15. “Each Wal-Mart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they hold for their community.” ― Sam Walton

16. “We let folks know we’re interested in them and that they’re vital to us. Cause they are.”― Sam Walton

17. “For my whole career in retail, I have stuck by one guiding principle. It’s a simple one, and I have repeated it over and over and over in this book until I’m sure you’re sick to death of it. But I’m going to say it again anyway: the secret of successful retailing is to give your customers what they want.” ― Sam Walton

18. “Business is a competitive endeavor, and job security lasts only as long as the customer is satisfied. Nobody owes anybody else a living.” ― Sam Walton

19. “What’s really worried me over the years is not our stock price, but that we might someday fail to take care of our customers, or that our managers might fail to motivate and take care of our associates. I also was worried that we might lose the team concept, or fail to keep the family concept viable and realistic, and meaningful to our folks as we grow. Those challenges are more real than somebody’s theory that we’re headed down the wrong path.” ― Sam Walton
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of customer service quotes to inspire you at work.

Sam Walton quotes about having a rebellious and resilient spirit

20. “Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom.” ― Sam Walton

21. “If everybody is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find your niche by going exactly in the opposite direction.” ― Sam Walton

22. “I have always been driven to buck the system, to innovate, to take things beyond where they’ve been.” ― Sam Walton

23. “I always favored the mavericks who challenged my rules. I may have fought them all the way, but I respected them, and, in the end, I listened to them a lot more closely than I did the pack who always agreed with everything I said.” ― Sam Walton

24. “Two things about Sam Walton distinguish him from almost everyone else I know. First, he gets up every day bound and determined to improve something. Second, he is less afraid of being wrong than anyone I’ve ever known. And once he sees he’s wrong, he just shakes it off and heads in another direction.” ― Sam Walton

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25. “I had to pick myself up and get on with it, do it all over again, only even better this time.” ― Sam Walton

26. “Most of us don’t invent ideas. We take the best ideas from someone else.” ― Sam Walton

27. “Loosen up, and everybody around you will loosen up.” ― Sam Walton

28. “All that hullabaloo about somebody’s net worth is just stupid, and it’s made my life a lot more complex and difficult.” ― Sam Walton

29. “If I had to single out one element in my life that has made a difference for me, it would be a passion to compete.” ― Sam Walton

30. “I’ve never been one to dwell on reverses.” ― Sam Walton

31. “And like most other overnight successes, it was about twenty years in the making.” ― Sam Walton

Sam Walton quotes about Wal-Mart associates

32. “We’re all working together; that’s the secret.” ― Sam Walton

33. “Appreciate everything your associates do for the business.” ― Sam Walton

34. “The key to success is to get out into the store and listen to what the associates have to say.” ― Sam Walton

35. “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.” ― Sam Walton

36. “Share your profits with all your associates and treat them as partners. In turn, they will treat you as a partner, and together you will all perform beyond your wildest expectations.” ― Sam Walton

37. “In the beginning, I was so chintzy I really didn’t pay my employees well.” ― Sam Walton

If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of motivational quotes for employees about the power of a great team.

38. “Individuals don’t win, teams do.” ― Sam Walton

Sam Walton quotes on Wal-Mart and running a business

39. “You can make a lot of mistakes and still recover if you run an efficient operation. Or you can be brilliant and still go out of business if you’re too inefficient.” ― Sam Walton

40. “Control your expenses better than your competition. This is where you can always find the competitive advantage.” ― Sam Walton

41. “Nobody wanted to gamble on that first Wal-Mart. I think Bud put in 3 percent, and Don Whitaker — whom I had hired to manage the store from a TG&Y store out in Abilene, Texas — put in 2 percent, and I had to put up 95 percent of the dollars. Helen had to sign all the notes along with me, and her statement allowed us to borrow more than I could have alone. We pledged houses and property, everything we had. But in those days we were always borrowed to the hilt.” ― Sam Walton

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42. “Maybe I was born to be a merchant. Maybe it was fate. I don’t know about that. But I know this for sure: I loved retail from the very beginning.” ― Sam Walton

43. “I don’t know what would have happened to Wal-Mart if we had laid low and never stirred up the competition. My guess is that we would have remained a strictly regional operator.” ― Sam Walton

44. “I got into retailing because I wanted a real job.” ― Sam Walton

45. “When you move like we did from town to town in these mostly rural areas, word of mouth gets your message out to customers pretty quickly without much advertising.” ― Sam Walton

46. “I probably have traveled and walked into more variety stores than anybody in America.” ― Sam Walton

47. “The two most important words I ever wrote were on that first Wal-Mart sign: “Satisfaction Guaranteed.” They’re still up there, and they have made all the difference.” ― Sam Walton

48. “What we guard against around here is people saying, ‘Let’s think about it.’ We make a decision. Then we act on it.” ― Sam Walton

49. “Every time Wal-Mart spends one dollar foolishly, it comes right out of our customers’ pockets. Every time we save them a dollar, that puts us one more step ahead of the competition—which is where we always plan to be.” ― Sam Walton

50. “The first one is, could a Wal-Mart-type story still occur in this day and age? My answer is of course it could happen again. Somewhere out there right now, there’s someone — probably hundreds of thousands of someones — with good enough ideas to go all the way. It will be done again, over and over, providing that someone wants it badly enough to do what it takes to get there. It’s all a matter of attitude and the capacity to constantly study and question the management of the business.” ― Sam Walton

What did you learn from these Sam Walton quotes?

Walton would open the Walton Five and Dime in Bentonville, Arkansas, after leaving his first Ben Franklin store. He also opened up 15 additional Ben Franklin franchises.

The first Wal-mart opened in 1962 and would end up revolutionizing shopping and consumer behavior. ‘Wally World,’ is truly a unique entity and economic giant.

The ‘Wal-Mart Effect’ is a term coined by business journalist Charles Fishman that encompasses the positive and negative effects that Wal-Mart has had on the business world.

I can’t imagine what life would look like if I couldn’t run to one store and grab groceries for dinner, cat litter, light bulbs, and some winter gloves. Sam’s insight into what people wanted in a store, and where those stores needed to be located, was a work of genius.

Do you have any additional Sam Walton quotes and sayings you would like to add? Leave them in the comment section below!

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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