How Sam Walton Dealt With Business Critics

Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, had to deal with sharp and painful criticism throughout his life. In his 30s and 40s, he had to make peace with his wife’s profound disappointment after the failure of his Benjamin Franklin five-and-dime stores (Walton signed one-year leases, and the landlord tripled the rent and kicked Walton out and replaced it with his own five-and-dome after Walton established himself).

When the Wal-Mart stores were rolling across farm towns in the South, he was regarded as a naïve hillbilly for driving around in his pick-up truck with the dream of beating the colossal Sears.

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The Value Of Local Business Dominance

I have a friend that launched his own pizza parlor with his long-term girlfriend. They are the only workers, and get to keep whatever they earn.

They have entered an industry of brutal competition that has existed at least since Domino’s launched their 2 for $5.99 each deal almost a decade ago. Competing on costs, or ease of internal technologies, with these entrenched pizza giants is almost possible.

But they did do something ingenious. They posted numerous signs in four local apartment complexes that said (i) if you order via their g-mail account and (ii) self-identify as a member of one of those four apartment complexes, your $19.99 will be $15. And if you specify in the e-mail the time you’d like the pizza to arrive, they’ll comply with it.

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What Is Going On With Derek Jeter?

Throughout his playing career, Derek Jeter received a public reputation that made him a modern-day Stan Musial—supremely talented, scandal-free, humble, and even wholesome. He became the ideal—athletes of today dream of having the long-term, on-field success coupled with the off-field money and reputational benefits that Jeter received.

As a part-owner of the Miami Marlins, Jeter fired Andrew Dawson, Jack McKeon, Tony Perez, and even the man who goes by the name “Mr. Marlin”, Jeff Conine. Jeter also reportedly wanted the Marlins’ play-by-play announcer fired, which happened (though network executives claimed that it made the decision independent of the Marlins’ ownership wishes).

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When To Believe Promises of Innovation

You can find wisdom in the old mechanic’s saying: “You can have it quick, cheap, or good. Pick two out of three.”

A company’s innovation will only result in success—be it a small-business owner opening a new restaurant or an international conglomerate spending millions and millions on a new product launch—if it can deliver something to the consumer better, faster, or cheaper than the prevailing status quo.

I used this framework when I analyzed Anheuser-Busch Inbev’s roll-out of Lime-A-Rita several years ago.

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What to Listen for on Quarterly Conference Calls

When legendary St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson was in college, he reportedly told his catchers to make whatever hand-signals they wanted before the pitch. If you held down one finger, he’d throw a fastball. If you down two fingers, he’d throw a fastball. If you held down three fingers, he’d throw a fastball. If you made the batman symbol with your hands, you’re getting a fastball.

Reflecting on his baseball career later in life, Gibson said that he enjoyed a competitive advantage by being able to cultivate his fastball strength. Other pitchers, lacking the quality of Gibson’s fastball and fixating on the idea that they needed a curveball and slider as well, used up their focus on improving their weaker pitches.

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