The following are prepared remarks for Greg Foran, President and CEO, Walmart U.S., at the 2019 Walmart Associate and Shareholders Meeting on June 7, 2019.
Good morning, Walmart.
How’s everyone doing? I want to start by thanking the U.S. team. You turned in a fantastic performance last year. You kept the momentum going with Online Grocery Pickup. You implemented a lot of new technology. And Comp sales were strong helped by some great work by our merchants including a reinvention of our apparel with new brands Wonder Nation, Terra and Sky, and Time and True. And great items like the new Marketside fresh soups.
So again, thank you.
Before I came to live in the U.S., I was essentially a tourist. I was familiar with the places tourists know: New York, Los Angeles, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon.
During the nearly five years I’ve lived here, however, I’ve been to every state, most of them more than once. What I’ve come to realize is just how unique the towns and neighborhoods where
you live and work are. I’ve come to understand how unique
Walmart’s connection is to those communities and the depth of
our relationship with them.
The relationships are powerful because they’re personal. And the
more personal and consistent those relationships, the more
substantial and reliable the trust they inspire. I believe we have an
obligation to our customers and their neighborhoods to build that
Our host is a person who understands this. I asked her if she'd join me out here to chat about it.
Greg Foran: Hey there. Is this stage beginning to feel like your second home?
Jennifer Garner: A little bit. But, that’s okay. I’m also beginning to feel like part of Walmart’s extended family.
Greg Foran: Well, we’re glad to have you.
Jennifer Garner: You know, Greg, I’ve heard you talk about your view of the country, and the role Walmart plays and I think, we’ve got a lot in common.
Greg Foran: Yes. You and I have had the chance to spend some time talking. We've talked about the way you approach the work you do with children in poverty.
Jennifer Garner: I’ve been fortunate to have the chance to get to know children who come from underserved communities. That work has taken me all around the country.
Greg Foran: As you've travelled around, is there anything that's stood out for you in terms of the kinds of things that make a difference?
Jennifer Garner: Yes, what’s been surprising to me is that it
doesn’t always take a big effort to make a big impact.
Greg Foran: There’s a story you tell along those lines I find inspiring. Would you share it with us?
Jennifer Garner: Absolutely. I work with Save the Children which has coordinators that lead our work in the field. They make visits to families who are dealing with the stressors of poverty. They bring toys and books, things that help very young children – many are babies – with cognitive development.
One of the things we brought was a ball. A simple, little ball. At one point during our visit, we said to the mother, "You should roll the ball to your son." And she did. The little boy looked at the ball — this new thing — not quite sure what to do with it. Then he imitated his mom and rolled it back.
His mom rolled it to him again, and this time the boy made a noise. The coordinator said to the mother, “He’s talking to you.” The mother said, “No. My baby doesn’t talk.” The coordinator said, “He’s talking to you. Say something back to him.” The mother made babbling sounds back to her boy. Baby noises. Then he made some more noises back. All of a sudden, there was a conversation between this mother and her baby. There was a connection, and a light went on in this little boy’s eyes.
You know Greg, as they continue to play like that, over time it will literally change the way that little boy’s brain develops.
That story sums it up. A ball. A small thing making a massive difference.
Greg Foran: I love that story. What sticks out for me is the light going on in that little boy’s eyes. That light - I think of it as a spark. As you know, the spark is an important part of Walmart’s culture.
Jennifer Garner: The thing about the spark is it might not be totally obvious. Sometimes you may not even notice it, but it’s there. Maybe in someone’s eyes, or in their heart.
Geg Foran: And it's real. It's genuine. It's completely honest. A human connection. I think that's what you're talking about.
Jennifer Garner: Yes, I think I am. And it’s great to have the chance to work with a company and with people who want to lead with heart and build trusting relationships with neighborhoods that way.
Greg Foran: Well, we're happy to work with someone as passionate and committed as you. I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me. I’ll let you head back stage for a quick breather, before you’re back out here.
From time to time, you’ve heard me talk about the importance of principles, and how principles don’t change. One of the principles I’ve come to rely on more and more over the past few years is this – success. Success – in probably all areas, including families, schools, sports teams and businesses of all sizes – depends on having some kind of a personal relationship. Personal relationships are the only way we can uphold the principles upon which our founder, Sam Walton, built our company. And to be perfectly honest, I think personal relationships are the basis for how we, as Walmart, or anyone else for that matter, can uphold many of the values which bring out the best of humanity.
If each of us builds those kinds of relationships reasonably well, we can help make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, and in the neighborhoods where they live and work. And by doing that honestly - by doing that well - we create a spark.
And when we create a spark, and we light that light, amazing things can start to happen.
Thank you all for being here. Thank you for giving me the chance to spend some time with you. Above all, thank you for what you do.