Fast Follower …. Eat the meat and throw away the bones (Final Part).

Fast Follower …. Eat the meat and throw away the bones (Final Part).

One of my favourite entrepreneurs of all time was a man named  Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, the American retail giant.

Its almost hard to imagine that just over 50 years ago, he started a company which has annual sales of just less than $500bn,  and employs over 2m. It is the largest company in the world.

When he died in 1992 his wealth was divided between his wife and children, most of whom are still alive. The combined wealth that he left his heirs is currently at $175bn. If Sam were still alive, he would be worth twice more than Bill Gates.

Now, why am I talking about Sam Walton?

He was a “FAST follower”.

I remember reading his autobiography, called “Made In America”, when it first came out.

This guy began his business as what we call in Africa, “a flea market trader”. No hi-tech, here; just a savvy guy who knew how to buy and sell cheap clothes, and other household utensils.

– I read his little book over and over again. Not because I wanted to buy and sell clothes, but because I needed to understand how this guy built such a large business. It was amazing!

The most successful Fast Followers, are those who already have a grounding, in a particular field, and stay in it. They don’t jump about from business to business. They make themselves master of one game:

They watch everything that goes on in that game, always trying to anticipate the next thing… But they don’t get into things they don’t know.

You must be in the race, before you can chase. A Fast Follower knows they are already in the game. Steve Jobs did not look for opportunities running a PIZZA company or try to  develop Real Estate.

Bill Gates, was a Fast Follower, in areas around computer software. This is how he made his money. He stayed focused in his chosen field:

Be focused.

Success requires you to be both a “a FAST leader”, as well as a “FAST follower”. This is because sometimes you get the chance to be the one who pioneers something new, but more often than not you must also be ready to be a “fast follower”, if the situation calls for it.

The End

Author:Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.

12 Replies to “Fast Follower …. Eat the meat and throw away the bones (Final Part).”

  1. Afterthought 1.
    Did I like everything that Sam Walton did to build his business. Not necessarily, but as my Pastor once said, “eat the meat and throw away the bones.”
    I wanted to learn about how big companies are built and run, so how could I ignore the guy who built the biggest business in the world?
    Maybe you don’t like everything I have to say, but if you just scoff you might miss the chance to be the next Sam Walton:
    “Eat the meat and throw away the bones”!

  2. Afterthought 2.
    I read in the book on Sam Walton, that whenever he travelled anywhere, he would visit any retail stores he saw, that was not a Walmart. He would move around with a small note book, carefully taking down notes of any innovations that he found interesting. He did this even when he was on holiday, often choosing a holiday destination that allowed him to visit retail stores in the area!
    “Eat the meat and throw away the bones, my friend.”

  3. Afterthought 3.
    Someone asked the other day, if there are any “fast followers” to Uber:
    You bet!
    Fast followers are emerging every day across the world. The “copy cats” have fallen on their face, but those who are “re-imagining” the service, have already developed successful competitors. Even here in Africa I have read about “Uber fast followers”; in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya. Maybe you have one in your country, you can tell me about.

    “Eat the meat and throw away the bones”…
    There was plenty of meat here!

  4. This I have learned and disciplined myself, Solomon wrote The eyes of a wisemen are in his head, No matter how good or bad a person is, there is a lesson in everything that happens before my eyes, Thank you sir for everything

  5. thanx papa for these great words. now my qsn is that how can i make my self a fast follower . i got i bssnss i want to start and i am at great zim university? should i concetrate much on the bssnss?

  6. out of a desire to know how to fit in with my small business into an industry where there are giants who have been there for decades, i bought a book by Sam Hazledine “winning the unfair fight” i recommend it to anyone whe wants to succeed as a fast follower. he talks of how david killed the giant Goliath. equally the tactic used by david can be used to take on and beat the giants in business.

  7. mr Strive masiyiwa you are a blessing to the nation . you are a source of inspiration. am a third year student at Harare poly in Zimbabwe doing marketing management. i want to venture the food industry , that is my vision. before i was scared of the big giants in the industry but now because of the FAST FOLLOWER theory that you injected unto my heart and the theory of eat the meat and throw away the bones, am going somewhere. my prayer now is may my God help me start this project so that i can finance my education, and be a a billionaire like you Mr S Masiyiwa. God enlarge your territory

  8. Thought of sharing with you our 2 most promising entrepreneurs from Zambia, I have been following them of late

    Here are some of the stories written on them.

    1. Times of Zambia

    2. Zambia Dailymail.

    3. Zambian Watchdog.
    4. They also featured in 2 of Zambias Magazines.

    Inside Zambia Magazine and Solwezi Today Magazine..

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