Hello, fellow associates.
I always look forward to setting goals this time of year.
It’s a time for a fresh start. And speaking of a fresh start, when I set goals, I often think back to 2013, when I went to work for Walmart China.
Starting a new job in a new place can be overwhelming, especially when it means getting a whole family into a new routine. We had to adjust to different languages, different holidays, different laws, and very different time zones from our relatives and friends.
I knew I had important work to do, but it was hard to set professional goals when I was constantly faced with the surprises and challenges that come from being in a different business, society, and culture.
Then one day it occurred to me that my role had a clear start date and a clear end date, too. I had always been in roles for the company where I was unsure how long they would last. So I had often set goals without a clear timeline. But in this situation, as an expat, I knew I would be in China for three years, and then I’d be moving back to the States.
I realized that while I couldn’t control everything ahead of me, I could try to leave things in a better place than I found them.
So I stopped thinking about what I could personally accomplish and started thinking instead about how I could empower the people who would be in China long after me. I set goals that had to be completed either within a year or before I left the country.
I approached things the same way in 2017, when I became CEO of Sam’s Club: I set goals for the business with a clear completion date on them. And it’s the same way I’m approaching the new challenge I just began.
This year I want us to make real progress preparing our associates to be ready to serve customers in whatever way they wish to be served. Whether a customer wants to shop in a store, online, or through Pickup—or have something delivered from a store—we need to be there for them.
Our company was built to endure and thrive in all conditions.
We should be proud of what we’ve accomplished but also be ready to change as our customers change and never take any level of success for granted.
And we should always think about what we’re doing in the context of building long-term relationships with each other.
Today it’s my turn to lead our U.S. associates, but one day another associate will get the chance. So I want to leave things in an even better place than I found them.