Since time immemorial, American business has always revered the iconic startup leader whether it was John Davison Rockefeller, Sr — American business icon, considered the wealthiest American of all time, and a generous philanthropist; or, the Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates stories. Sam Walton was an iconic, successful businessman.
All have a “larger than life” nature to them. They fall into the category of the iconic American business billionaire. These folks, however, come with a full bag of positive and negative traits.
In the modern startup world, we have folks like Travis Kalanik, formerly of Uber, and, now Adam Neumann, of We (We Work).
What we are confronted with is the “cult of personality” wherein the business becomes synonymous with the leader or founder.
This can be good or bad.
In the case of Sam Walton, it is generally perceived as a positive thing. Folksy Old Sam was a gimme-cap-wearing, pickup-driving, Easy-Rider-rifle-rack-shotgun-owner, bird-hunting, bird-dog-loving man of the people from the heartland.
Walmart HQ never left Bentonville, Arkansas, and Bentonville never left Sam.
Sam Walton and his pickup truck at the beginning: