Who Hired You?

Sam Walton voted most versatile boy in the Dav...Image via WikipediaSam Walton is an inspiration of mine. I find Walmart, Dell and the dollar pizza places fascinating. I admire those who can keep the costs down.

Sam Walton had plastic chairs at his Arkansas headquarters. And this was after Walmart had gone public, and Sam Walton was a billionaire already. His logic was obvious. If we buy expensive chairs, the costs get passed on to the customers. It made perfect sense to buy plastic chairs. When he traveled for business, he made a point to stay in cheap motels.

I read his autobiography a long time ago. It is a slim book, a great read.

This was in Walmart's early days. Walmart was expanding rapidly. They kept hiring people. One day Sam Walton noticed one of the new hires had a college degree. He was startled. He asked around.

"Who hired the guy?"

The word spread. There was a minor mayhem. The new guy was asked to appear before Sam Walton and his top lieutenants. He was given the stern look.

"Who hired you?" a top Walton lieutenant asked.

The point is Sam Walton had not needed anyone with a college degree to that point. All the work he needed done was done just fine by people without college degrees who he had been able to hire for cheap.
OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 08:  The Wal-Mart logo i...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
This is an important lesson for me to remember as I build my team. I look forward to hiring a lot of Columbia University student interns. If you can get the work done, it is okay that you have not finished college yet. Come work for me. I am for paid internships, by the way. If you can do 40 hours a week in summer maybe you can do 20 hours a week while the school is on.

But the real hiring action will take place in the countries I go into. I am intent on doing the last mile right. My company will scale or not depending on how well I tackle the last mile.

You have to start with what work you want to get done. Then you have to create jobs around tasks. You don't start out by looking for star people. I don't care what school you went to. But I do care that you can deliver, you can get the work done. It is about getting the work done at the lowest costs possible. Doing stellar work matters. But it is also important to keep the costs down.
Image representing Dell as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase
I have been thinking in terms of a company lunch for four: Chinatown. Up to $5 is on me. Anything above that you pay yourself. And you pay your own tip. And if you pay more than $5 overall, you don't get invited to the next lunch.

Walmart is the most successful company in the history of the world.
A typical Wal-Mart discount department store i...Image via Wikipedia
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