MAG Insights

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Letter from the NEW MAG President: Reflecting on 20 years at Walmart (MAG Quarterly- Volume Six, Issue Three)

By John Drechny, President, Merchant Advisory Group

September 6, 2018

I am so excited for the opportunity and challenge to lead the MAG in to the future. Under Mark’s leadership the MAG has accomplished tremendous growth which gives us a strong foundation to build on. As part of the transition, I had time to reflect on what I learned over my 20-year career at Walmart. Below are the top ten insights I shared with the team as I left Walmart which can be used as helpful guideposts to leading successful teams.

First, get over yourself. Yes, what you do is important and how you do it may even be more important, but groundbreaking change is seldom accomplished by an individual but by teams. If you invest in others and spend the time to explain the desired outcome, then success will follow. Part of this includes the ability to laugh at yourself. 

Second, without a vision, how do you know where you are headed? Many of the accomplishments we have achieved are because we understood where we wanted to go. Without the road-map you will always be lost and unable to find your way.

Third, trust is built on integrity and trust is the key ingredient in any good team. If you do what you say and admit your mistakes others will trust you. With trust, you will be given the freedom to experiment which eventually leads to breakthroughs.

Fourth, never settle for status quo. The business world continues to move faster and faster and those who choose to settle for the current state will soon be left behind. Push yourself to constantly challenge the status quo and discover new ways to do things better.

Fifth, the barriers you put on yourself are more limiting than those others will put on you. When I look back at some of the bigger accomplishment in my career, they were accomplished because I didn’t limit myself. Launching the industry’s biggest pay card or removing signatures from the payment ecosystem happened because we didn’t allow barriers to prevent us from achieving success.

Sixth, problems seldom solve themselves. Early in my career I spent too much time hoping issues would go away. This usually resulted in things getting worse until eventually, I had to deal with the problem. At this point it was a much bigger mess than if I had just dealt with the problem from the start.

Seventh, be authentic. People know when you’re not and nobody wants to follow someone they don’t believe in. 

Eighth, choose to follow people as passionate as you are. Everyone deserves someone willing to fight for them and their ideas. I have been blessed by working for some of the best fighters out there.

Ninth, don’t be afraid of change. As the saying goes, “The only thing which is constant is change.” You have a choice to create change or be impacted by it. It’s a lot more fun to create it.

Finally, remember it is just a job and our real blessing is how we make people’s lives better. When you do life with people, it has a lasting effect and is much bigger than the accomplishment of the day. Make sure you leave time in your day to connect with people at a personal level and invest more in others than what has been invested in you. At some point, we will all retire from work but we will never retire from life. 

Hope these insights are helpful to you and look forward to building the future of the MAG together.