Published: Monday, 11 February 2008 23:49
First Published: 19 June 2005
The Big Picture
Sam was, by all accounts, a practical hands-on man whose grip had the grit of hard work. He started it all with little more than a barren field and some air in his pockets. Through hard work, he turned that into a store. Unfortunately, hard work alone wasn’t enough to overcome beginner’s fumbling, and Sam lost that business, but not his drive for success. So on the next go-round, in addition to hard work, he took the experience that he milled into business smarts, and opened another store, and the customers lined up.
Years later, Sam would attribute the turn-around to one principle: he listened. He asked customers what they needed, where they wanted it, and how they decided which store to get it from. He listened to what they told him, and built his store from their answers. Such a simple idea made his initial success seem more like a lucky play than a blueprint for an empire, but each new store he opened followed that same plan and each met with the same outcome. In a curious bit of irony, as his chain of stores lengthened, so did the distance between him and the people he liked to listen to, threatening to sever the connection that grounded his company. Sam knew he needed unfiltered information from the front lines to keep the road clear so that success could grow.
Read more: Walking the Line I