Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend Walmart’s monthly Saturday-morning employee meeting at their headquarters in Bentonville. It was a delightful experience and I couldn’t help but feel like I was experiencing something very unique in the corporate world.
CEO Mike Duke conducted the session, which featured contributions from over a dozen Walmart executives and managers, including several on live video feeds. The auditorium was filled with a few thousand Walmart employees who showed up for this voluntary 90-minute meeting at 7:30 Saturday morning, an impressive accomplishment in its own right!
The theme was mostly about Walmart giving and featured videos and presentations highlighting some wonderful ways the company is positively impacting lives and doing good things. Several stories were moving and I was inspired to see the good that corporate America can do voluntarily.
Walmart has been holding Saturday meetings since Sam Walton’s time. Yet I couldn’t help but thinking there was something very innovative happening. In contrast to what I might have expected from one of the worlds largest and most profitable companies, this was extremely informal. It was mostly unscripted. Off-the-cuff. Down-home. Genuine. Authentic. Real.
Walmart has plenty of money to do something really slick. And yes, some of the videos were very professionally produced (probably for other uses). But what I experienced was a company that knows itself, understands its heritage and is comfortable in its own skin. And I was happy to be present; happy for the two million plus Walmart employees, and happy to be a small part of their efforts to make the world a better place.