What can we learn from Jim Walton?

As part of this week’s “What can we learn from…” series, I wanted to take a closer look at the career of Jim Walton – the son of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club founder Sam Walton. Although he was certainly born with more advantages than most of us could dream of, he has still earned a reputation for himself as a hard worker and a smart investor.

Regardless of what you may think about Wal-Mart and its effect on small town America, there is a lot to be learned from the life of this successful businessman, currently valued at $35.6 billion.

Here are three interesting lessons we learn from Jim Walton:

1) Don’t be satisfied with just receiving from others. Jim Walton –the youngest son of Sam Walton – probably could have been satisfied living off of payments from a trust fund – enjoying the fruits of his father’s hard work. But Jim instead decided to take the opportunities that he had been given and put them to good use. He went to school and got a degree in Business Administration and then applied for a job at Wal-Mart – not President, but working with the company’s real estate interests.

Most of us live in a country where we can receive certain benefits from the government – like unemployment, disability, and welfare – if we need them. Those programs are valuable, but they are meant to be temporary. They are meant to get us over the hump during a difficult situation and keep us from starving to death until we get back on our feet. Unfortunately, some folks are perfectly content to accept this help for their whole lives, living off of the hard work of others and ignoring the huge boost they have been given. They don’t use the opportunity they have been given to change their situation for the better. Don’t be like that. Be like Jim Walton and earn your own way as soon as you can.

2) Diversify your income. It’s interesting to see that Jim has chosen to spend his days working hard. Although he makes a decent amount of money from the annual dividends produced by his Wal-Mart stocks, he doesn’t put all of his eggs in the one Wal-Mart basket – he has instead diversified his income. He works as the CEO of Arvest Bank (which serves the Midwest) and also works with publishing company CPI (Community Publishers Inc.). So even if one of his sources of income dries up or loses value, his needs will still be taken care of.

3) Don’t forget where you came from. Although some folks think that Wal-Mart drives local businesses into bankruptcy, the fact is that the company advocates a culture of caring about small town America. Jim’s company CPI gives back to small communities in the Midwest, Arvest Bank provides business and mortgages loans that help small town folks move forward, and Wal-Mart itself provides products, food, and even tax advice at decent prices.

The fact is that Jim Walton has not forgotten his small town roots. With all his success, he sincerely gives back to the communities that helped to make his family a household name.

And with whatever level of success we are able to reach, we should do the same.

To learn more about Jim Walton, visit:

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