Lessons from Walmart on how to hit the half century gracefully.

By Amber Hudson and Luke Sklar

Let’s be clear, I’m far from 50 (very, very far) and Luke is a little over 50.  But this isn’t about us, it’s about others who have turned 50, and have done so, for the most part, gracefully.

Walmart is celebrating its 50th birthday this year.  But it hasn’t always been a sweet ride.  Over the past few decades folks tagged them as the Evil Destroyer of Mom & Pop Shops.  Then  in 2009 they had a complete midlife crisis.  They launched Project Impact:  cleaner, less cluttered stores to improve the shopping experience,  aggressive sku rationalization ,  big category statements to “out-Best Buy” Best Buy and “out-Toys R Us” Toys R Us” and yes their own fashion office(!) in Manhattan. Total flop. Nine straight quarters of comp store declines, customers raced to Dollar General and Kroger for real deals and the U.S. President lost his job. But, just in time for 50…they got their mojo back. In 1962, they were the first retailer to bring dignity to the price shopper. Epiphany:  if we don’t win on price we don’t win at all. Did you notice their price guarantee last Christmas? Well…more to come.

So who else did it right?  Oprah, Sean Connery, Jodie Foster.  Tom Cruise?  Maybe.  Madonna?  As a child of the 80s I worshiped her, but she’s on the edge, trying a little too hard to stay relevant (Nicki Minaj, MIA, cheerleaders?).  So what can we learn from these famous 50+ celebrities?  It comes down to one thing…brace yourself for the painful cliché…stay true to who you are.

Charles Schultz said “Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.”
Maybe Walmart will too.