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Judith McKenna’s Advice
to My Students

Judith McKennaJudith McKenna, Walmart International’s President and CEO, is quoted often and cited frequently in Why It Matters: Reflections on Practical Leadership. You’ll find the following in the book.

  • “Have the courage of your convictions. Let go of fear, and have the courage to take those steps forward.”
  • “The biggest challenges of leadership are communication and motivating others.”
  • “Shape our message around your audience.”
  • “The single hardest thing is communicating, telling a story, and taking people with you. It’s incredibly valuable. You have to simplify. You have to explain the why.”
  • “Decisions do not occur in a vacuum. Anticipate the repercussions.” She said, “Tough decisions need to be approached with genuine empathy, something learned but not taught.”
  • “Feedback is not the most important thing. What you do with it is.”
  • “You choose your attitude.”
  • “What really matters to people are the tiny noticeable things that happen every day.”
  • “Every strength, overplayed, is a weakness.”
  • “When disappointments come, you need to pick yourself up and dust yourself off.”
  • “The only person who can lose your credibility is you.”
  • “On work/life balance, everyone must find his or her unique way. Never judge people who have made decisions different from yours. When you see someone whose life balance seems out of sync, ask how you can help. . . . There are different times in your life where your balance has to be different and you have to recognize what and when they are.”

Advice Judith provided that is not included in the book includes the following.

  • “What people see me doing speaks louder than what I actually say.”
  • “Words matter.”
  • “I’m not going to tell you what to do. I’m just going to show you.”
  • “You have a responsibility to role model the way.”
  • “The greatest gift people can give you is to respect you.”
  • “Be sensitive to how you make people feel.”
  • “Amplify your strengths.”
  • “Don’t just listen to what is said, but also listen to what is not said.”
  • Quoted Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

When asked what the differences are in leading 10 people and leading 700,000 people, Judith said, “You can sometimes share more with 10 people. Otherwise, there are very few differences.”

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