Sam's Club June 15, 2016

Sam's Club

Shadow: Neely Borger
Job: Sam’s Club

The town of Bentonville was hardly on the map before Sam Walton made Walmart a household name. As it expanded through the United States and across countries, it became the world’s largest retailer. What started in a small, unknown town made a big, known impact on the world. With more than 2 million employees, Walmart could form the second largest military on the planet, almost twice the size of the United States Armed Forces.

Although this may feel like an overwhelming number that any person could get lost in one person who stands out is Neely Borger. Neely works for Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and I had the opportunity to shadow her and understand what working for such a large corporation looks like.

I started out at the Walmart headquarters. To be honest I was disappointed after first seeing it. I stood inside of their building thinking, “This is it?” It looked like just another Walmart store on the outside and was very simple on the inside. I soon found out the reason for this being that Sam Walton founded Walmart with the strong conviction that a retailer could help people save money and live better. By not investing millions of dollars into extravagant buildings the company is able to put that money back into price, so that their items and products can be a lot lower. The Walmart headquarters is a reflection of their values by saving money from the ground up.

As we drove down Simple Savings drive on my way to Sam’s Club, I couldn’t help but think about what is taught in their stores is what is lived out in the company. This was reiterated when Neely introduced us to the different departments and people within the Sam’s Club Corporation. I realized that the service of others is what Wal-Mart Inc. is based on as I was greeted with a warm smile and a “how can I help you?” This is not just for their customers but also for their employees. The company invests a lot in each associate’s overall direction and career. They urge people to take leadership classes and encourage them to keep learning and growing.

“You can be taught any job but the people skills and treating people right is always going to be so foundational.” ~ Neely Borger

I was extremely impressed and encouraged by all that Neely had accomplished in such a short amount of time. At Sam’s Club she manages digital media programs and supports supplier funded programs across the website. I sat in on one of her meetings with a Sam’s Club supplier, to find out what it looks like for a company like Keurig to promote their products on During the meeting I noted Neely was giving people almost twice her age marketing strategies. I learnt that Sam’s Club and Walmart use a database called WMX or Walmart Exchange specifically for targeting purposes for all of their marketing initiatives. It gathers data based on Purchase and Browse behavior on Sam’s Club and Walmart website as well as in stores. Based on the information the company is able to target based on geography, demographics, SIC code (type of business), shopping behavior in general, behavior targeting, and contextual targeting. People can then be directed onto or website to help make it ridiculously easy for people to gain access to their savings.

Walmart is successful because it’s values hold true. This small town in Arkansas is at the heart of everything they do.

Learned Lessons:

Wisdom From Walton:

Sam Walton believed running a successful business boils down to 10 simple rules:

  1. Commit to your business.

Believe in it more than anybody else. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Motivate your partners.

Money and ownership alone aren't enough. Set high goals, encourage competition, and then keep score. Don't become too predictable.

  1. Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners.

The more they know, the more they'll understand. The more they understand, the more they'll care. Once they care, there's no stopping them.

  1. Appreciate everything your associates do for the business.

Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They're absolutely free – and worth a fortune.

  1. Celebrate your success.

Don't take yourself so seriously. Loosen up, and everybody around you will loosen up. Have fun. Show enthusiasm – always. All of this is more important, and more fun, than you think, and it really fools competition.

  1. Listen to everyone in your company.

And figure out ways to get them talking. To push responsibility down in your organization, and to force good ideas to bubble up within it, you must listen to what your associates are trying to tell you.

  1. Exceed your customers’ expectations.

Give them what they want — and a little more. Make good on all your mistakes, and don't make excuses — apologize. Stand behind everything you do.

  1. Control your expenses better than your competition.

This is where you can always find the competitive advantage. You can make a lot of different 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.

  1. Swim upstream.

Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody else is doing it one way, there's a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction.

Tips of the Trade:

“Don’t take a job just because it’s a job” ~ Neely Borger

“Explore areas you are interested in” ~ Neely Borger

“Try networking and find connections early.” ~ Neely Borger

“Go into any job with an open mind and willing to learn.” ~Neely Borger