Rolling up his sleeve and getting a shot isn’t necessarily something Curtis Smith has always jumped at the chance to do.


“I’m afraid of needles,” Curtis said.


His decision to overcome that fear began to take shape as he thought about his family, his associates and what it means to be a leader. Curtis is a Stocking Coach at Store 24 in Jacksonville, Arkansas – the very town where he grew up.


“A lot of customers have known me since I was a kid,” Curtis said.

Curtis began his journey with Walmart about seven years ago, stocking produce on an overnight shift. Before that, he spent six years in the U.S. Army as a military intelligence analyst. Some of his tenure with the Army included being stationed in Korea. So, the idea of being back home was an opportunity Curtis welcomed with open arms.


Curtis has found himself in a position with great influence among a team of associates, and it’s a responsibility he does not take lightly.


“Leadership is a privilege not a right,” Curtis said. “I like championing associates. I want to make sure my associates know that I care about them.”


One way Curtis knew he could show that he cares was by getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Not only for his team, but also for his elderly mother who lives with him. His hesitation toward needles was strong, but his desire to protect himself and others was stronger. Curtis booked an appointment to get the vaccine at Store 24, and the pharmacist made him forget about that pesky fear.


“We talked about gumbo, because my Dad is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana,” Curtis said. “The next thing you know, I had the vaccine.”


And with that, Curtis knew he had a shot at inspiring more associates to join the effort in protecting themselves and others. Needles were no match for the message he wanted to send to his team.


“I always tell them you should do anything you do out of love,” Curtis said. “As a leader, you set the standard.”

Curtis Smith, stocking coach
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