Doug McMillon — CEO of Walmart (#345)

Doug McMillon (IG: @dougmcmillon) is president and chief executive officer of Walmart, a company that, if it were a country, would be the 25th largest economy in the world. Walmart serves 265 million customers weekly in 27 countries across more than 11,000 stores and online, and the company employs roughly 2.2 million associates worldwide, which would equate to the second largest army in the world (behind China) if it were tasked with defending that 25th largest economy.

75 percent of Walmart’s store management team began as hourly associates, and Doug is no exception. He started out in 1984 as a summer associate in the Walmart distribution center, and in 1990 while pursuing his MBA, he rejoined the company as an assistant manager in Tulsa before moving to merchandising as a buyer trainee. He worked his way up, and from 2005 to 2009 he served as president and CEO of Sam’s Club (owned and operated by Walmart) with sales of more than $46 billion annually during his tenure.

From February of 2009 to 2014, Doug served as president and CEO of Walmart International, a fast-growing segment of Walmart’s overall operations. He has served on the board of directors for Walmart since 2013 and is currently the chair of the executive and global compensation committees. In addition, he serves on the board of directors of the Consumer Goods Forum, the US-China Business Council and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. He also serves on the executive committee of the Business Roundtable and the advisory board of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management in Beijing, China.

This episode was recorded live at the Heartland Summit in Bentonville, AR, surrounded by the jaw-droppingly mind-blowing Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Please enjoy!

Want to hear another episode with a fascinating leader? — Listen to my conversation with former Home Depot CEO and current Crazy Good Turns producer Frank Blake. (Stream below or right-click here to download):

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


  • Connect with Doug McMillon:

Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn


  • Doug shares his Baitmate story. [08:26]
  • Doug trained as a buyer in an era when his word and a handshake was as good as a contract. [11:36]
  • Influential books Doug recommends. [13:22]
  • As a voracious reader, how does Doug discover and decide what books are added to his knee-high “to read” stack? [16:08]
  • How is virtual reality employed in the training of associates? [18:31]
  • Does Doug have any quotes or reminders built into his daily life that help keep him on track? [20:57]
  • Why does Doug keep a list of the top 10 retailers of the last five decades on his phone? [23:27]
  • Knowing that openness to change is a prerequisite to initiating change doesn’t always make the decision to lean into such a change easy. What have been some of Doug’s most difficult decisions? [26:33]
  • What helps Doug find the clarity to make such difficult decisions when anxiety might otherwise bring them to an impasse? [29:17]
  • While the acquisition of Flipkart may seem like a decision that doesn’t make much short-term sense, why does Doug believe in it for the long haul? [30:16]
  • What are “treasure hunt items” at Sam’s Club? [33:13]
  • Where did Doug’s competetive streak originate, and is his reputation for being “poised and calm” from nature or nurture? [36:05]
  • Just how competetive is Doug? [37:40]
  • Doug’s morning routines and rituals — with a Tim Ferriss Show exclusive: breakfast! [38:40]
  • What does the structure of Doug’s typical week look like? Does he have typical weeks? Years? [40:04]
  • With such a busy schedule, how does Doug take care of himself and manage his time in a way that keeps him from burning out? [43:15]
  • What usually takes the place of a scheduled day when Doug has to call a fire break? [44:22]
  • What does it look like for Doug to sit down and think during one of these fire breaks? And does he take these breaks alone or with others? [45:33]
  • What new belief or habit has most improved Doug’s life? [47:45]
  • What led to this capacity for change? [49:19]
  • Aside from fire breaks, is there anything else that helps Doug cope with the feeling of being overwhelmed? [51:02]
  • 100 million favorite failures and one pep talk. [52:57]
  • What would Doug’s billboard say? [56:46]