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Chip Conley, founder of MEA, the first midlife wisdom school, and New York Times bestselling author, reflects on the dynamics of age, wisdom, and curiosity in the ever-evolving world.In our[…]

Hotelier Chip Conley reflects on a recent article he wrote in praise of Wal-Mart.

Topic: What Business Leaders Can Learn From Wal-Mart


Chip Conley: Well, I wrote that having to post about, should the government outsource its operations to Wal-Mart. I wrote it on April fools. I wrote it on April first. But actually there was a certain tongue and cheek that I meant it there, in a sense that, one of the altruisms about the White House today and Obama’s very ambitious goals is it’s big. There’s a lot to be done. Whether it’s in the environment, or healthcare, these are huge initiatives and what I was really pointing to there is beyond all the rhetoric and all of the finger pointing. I was one of those people who is slamming Wal-Mart and I have written in some of my books, slam Wal-Mart in some of my books.

But if you look at some of the transformation that company has gone through in the last three or four years, not just the stuff that’s about marketing but some of the intrinsic things they’re doing in terms of how they’re providing more health care to their own people, but they’re providing more cheap health care to their customers in the store. What they’ve done in the environmental level in terms of some of the new standards that they’ve created for themselves in terms of how they source products and how they actually package products. They forced companies like GE and Procter and Gamble to change their packaging of products to make it more green. So you have to look at them and say they’re starting to shift they’ve got such a bid footprint as a company that as they shift, they have big impacts out there. What I meant in that post was… I’m a huge fan of Barrack Obama and I want him to be successful, and I want him to do all of the things that he’s trying to do right now but in order to do all of that quickly and logistically well, why don’t we learn some lessons from Wal-Mart because Wal-Mart is the biggest logistical company in the world and they’re really good at it.

So I don’t think we should become, maybe we should buy Wal-Mart, maybe instead of buying AIG or instead of becoming a shareholder of all these bad bags, maybe we should become a shareholder of Wal-Mart. And then somehow collaborate with them in how they can actually take some of these big ideas and make them successful quickly.


Recorded on: April 14, 2009