“Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there.

You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.” 

John William Gardner was the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) under President Lyndon Johnson. He was recipient of the 1964 Presidential Medal of Freedom and became known as “the father of campaign finance reform”. John delivered the “Personal Renewal” Speech at McKinsey & Company on November 10, 1990. 

Life is an endless unfolding, and if we wish it to be, an endless process of self-discovery, an endless and unpredictable dialogue between our own potentialities and the life situations in which we find ourselves.

“Personal Renewal” Speech Transcript

I’m going to talk about “Self-Renewal.” One of your most fundamental tasks is the renewal of the organizations you serve, and that usually includes persuading the top officers to accomplish a certain amount of self-renewal. But to help you think about others is not my primary mission this morning. I want to help you think about yourselves. 

Leadership is unveiled by vision, driven by passion, activated by planning, engineered by sacrifice, and actualized by tireless pursuit.

It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times as Charles Dicken once quipped, that is the life of a leader. A leader is a dealer in hope, positivity, and optimism in trying times, and in crisis, the leader charts a course for recovery. A leader’s job is to create an enabling environment where your people can do their best work and become a better version of themselves.

Here are some great quotes on Leadership:

Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.Bill Gates

Staying Hungry when you are achieving success is very hard as Bill Gates once quipped: “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” Successful people and teams always have to deal with this issue at some point in their life/career; the ability to still stay hungry when you are achieving success and not get content/complacent is a great skill needed to stay at the top.

Staying grounded in the midst of success and not getting carried away with the praise, awards, recognition and all the rewards of succeeding can be very tempting. We all want to be recognized for our initiative and success but it can get into our heads which invariably leads to complacency and laziness among other self-defeating behaviors

Never let success get to your head and never let failure get to your heart.

Darren Hardy, Author and Former publisher of SUCCESS Magazine, in his great book: The Compound Effect noted that:

“The truth is, complacency has impacted all great empires, including, but not limited to, the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English. Why? Because nothing fails like success. Once-dominant empires have failed for this very reason. People get to a certain level of success and get too comfortable.”

People get to a certain level of success and get too comfortable.

“With the possible exception of Henry Ford, Sam Walton is the entrepreneur of the century.”- TOM PETERS, co-author of In Search of Excellence

Made In America is the story of how Sam Walton built a retailing empire, “Walmart” from a humble upbringing. He started it from a single dime store in a hardscrabble cotton town (Arkansas) into the largest retailer in the world. In a story rich with anecdotes and the “rules of the road” of both Main Street and Wall Street, Sam Walton chronicles the inspiration, heart, and optimism that propelled him to lasso the American Dream.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. grew to be the world’s largest corporation by revenue and the biggest private employer in the world. For a while, Walton was the richest man in America. As of July 31, 2020, Walmart has 11,496 stores and clubs in 27 countries, operating under 56 different names.

I think it must be human nature that when somebody homegrown gets on to something, the folks around them sometimes are the last to recognize it.

The company which Sam built Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue, with US$514.405 billion, according to the Fortune Global 500 list in 2019. It is also the largest private employer in the world, with 2.2 million employees. It is a publicly-traded family-owned business, as the Walton family controls the company. Sam Walton’s heirs own over 50 percent of Walmart by holding company Walton Enterprises and their holdings.

Sam Walton was a relentless, hands on entrepreneur who led by example. In his own words:

I don’t know that anybody else has ever done it quite like me: started out as a pure neophyte, learned his trade, swept the floor, kept the books, trimmed the windows, weighed the candy, rung the cash register, installed the fixtures, remodeled the stores, built an organization of this size and quality, and kept on doing it right up to the end because they enjoyed it so much. No one that I know of has done it that way.

Here are my favourite take aways from reading,Made In America by Sam Walton:

Professor Jonah Berger is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he has taught since 2007. He graduated with distinction from Stanford University with a B.A. in Human Judgment and Decision Making and received his Ph.D from Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has been a visiting faculty member at Duke University and Cornell University.

Professor Berger studies social dynamics—why products, ideas, and behaviors become popular. He examines how individual decision making and social influence among people generate collective outcomes, such as social contagion and trends. His work mixes psychology, sociology, marketing, and economics to understand human behavior and its implications for collective outcomes.

Professor Berger is the author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, which appeared on the best-seller lists of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and translated into almost 30 languages. His other books include Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior and The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind.

Here are my favourite take aways from viewing, Jonah Berger’s Great Courses Class: How Ideas Spread:

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