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So the ability to be calm and ability to reflect the ability to blend into my life every day where I'm not kind of a gerbil on the wheel, which is constantly running the ability to get off that you off that you know, that cycle and pause, reflect, you know, understand Bill back my strength, my my vision. I think that's been an important part of my own personal growth. That part of it didn't take place until, you know, probably just maybe four or five years ago.


I think when I began to think more about, you know, in a broader sense, a deeper sense of purpose and. Yes. And service to others. Hello, everyone, welcome back to you on purpose. The number one health podcast in the world because of each and every single one of you. Thank you so much for taking our time out of your day, out of your evening to be here to learn and grow and advance your thinking.


And like, you know, every week I try and find guests that I believe are going to ask us thought-Provoking questions, give us deeper insights to ourselves, and give us so much experience and abundance and wealth of insight to learn from so that we can learn from their lives, their mistakes, their failures, their successes and most of all, their wisdom. And today's guest is someone that I've been really blown away by. I've met him for the first time this week, but he just has this natural humility, his natural grace.


He's extremely kind hearted. And it really blows me away when extremely successful individuals are so deeply, genuinely grounded and wanting to do incredible things for the world says, you know, this week I've been with the Arthur Blank Family Foundation. We've been at the West Creek Ranch here in Montana, and we've been discussing the state of well-being in America. And the person who's put this on is Arthur Blank himself, who is the best known as the co-founder of the Home Depot and was named by Forbes as one of the world's 100 greatest living business minds and sports business journals.


Most 50 influential people in sports for the past three years. His business portfolio currently includes the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta United, the retail PGA Tour superstore, the Arthur and Blank Family Foundation, and many, many more ventures. Author Arthur, I'm so grateful, honored and humbled that you're doing this. Thank you for being here. Well, it's it's great to be with you. As I said the other night, I mean, you're the last person I see when I go to bed.


And it's always very warming to hear your counsel and your wisdom. So thank you for sharing that with all of us. I appreciate it. Thank you so much. I was so touched to hear that you'd been watching my videos without me even knowing I have been I love them all the great stories. And like you said the other day, we're talking about Albert Einstein had the ability to take something that's very complex and has a lot of sides and edges to it and make it to where it's digestible and understandable by, you know, by the majority of people.


And I think that's a that's a powerful asset that you have and one that, you know, that I try to remember as well to try to make things a little bit easier for people to understand. And therefore, you don't get, you know, get through the point you're trying to make you do it well.


Very well. Thank you so much. That means so much to me coming from you. And we're so happy and grateful to be in this incredible writes this week, your space here in Montana. We have this incredible view. And even more amazing is the people that you've gathered and your team is gathered for this such an important conversation and cause. Could you tell us about where this idea for this week came for you and what the purpose was from your perspective?


Well, I think it was it was born out of a lot of years of my my journey in terms of wellness and well-being. And I was a very competitive runner for many years of my life. And and that, you know, that was great. But, you know, we transition out of that. And I do a variety of other things to keep myself physically and mentally in shape now. But, you know, we're living in very troubled times.


And and I'm talking about really on a global basis nationally as well as globally. And despite our GDP, which, you know, we discussed the other day as not being the real measure of happiness in the country, despite the growth of that, we've got a lot of a lot of issues that young people and older people are all struggling with. The fact that you met Laurie Santo's from Yale University in a quarter of a quarter of the student body of Yale, three years old, has has now taken it was taking this course every year and how to how to deal with, you know, positive growth, how to deal with the stress in your life, et cetera.


At Harvard, they have a thousand students every semester do a similar. So the reality is it's not only with folks my age that are, you know, why is the suicide rate doubled since 1996? 30 percent, I should say. But the young people today, thank heavens, are questioning themselves. You know, what is my purpose? What's my purpose myself? What my purpose in serving humanity? What's my purpose and what I'm doing? How do I connect all these dots in my life journey together?


And so I think the the idea was to bring together, you know, the best, the brightest, the smartest. We have them all, starting with you and many others that have incredible backgrounds and histories and bring such knowledge and wisdom to the room. And the idea was to bring together for us as a funder and other funders as well. Are there ways that we can help move the ball down the. To use, you know, either my football teams or football soccer as a Nalgae, but a ways that we can put our shoulder to the wheel and do more than what is currently being done is a ways we can assist.


And we do that within our own businesses. And we can talk about that later, if you like. But but beyond that, you know, what's the scale? What's the impact? We've talked about that. Lord knows that if we make a difference in one person's life, that's a huge journey by itself. But reality is that these issues are of such scale, not only nationally but internationally, as we've heard from Dan Buettner of Blue Zones and, you know, and and Little Bob, Bob Walding and Bob World from Harvard.


I mean, these issues are being questioned, you know, throughout the world. So they're they're they're big time concerns that we have to face.


Yeah, absolutely. And when I first received the invite and saw what the conversation was, I was just so happy and in awe that this was taking place. Yeah, I just thought, wow, there's someone out there who is so deeply invested and seems so genuinely caring about what the challenges of the world. And then when I looked at the list of people coming, I was just like, wow, this can be so exciting for me because I have my notebook out right now and I've learned so much this week.


So thank you again. And I wanted to help my audience understand your back story, because I think that's what really shows where people's purpose comes from. Right. It's very easy to look at. You were sitting in this beautiful place today. It's, you know, this beautiful property here that you actually grew up in a one bedroom apartment in Queens and you didn't move out until you went to college and didn't live in a home till age 32, right?


That's correct. Yes. And so tell us about how formative that experience was and how what you learned from.


I think I think it was very important in my own life. My father was a pharmacist, but I lost him when I was 15. He was 44 at the time, very young age. My mother was 37. She took over my dad's business and ran it. But, you know, we always we always we didn't have very much I mean, just one bedroom apartment shared by all four of us. We had a single bathroom. I mean, we're living in a very, very modest way.


And but the one thing I remember clearly about my mother is that it was never about money. It was always about making a difference and trying to give back and trying to be involved in the community, et cetera. I mean, I wear this bracelet that she did that I had made from our book that described you can't see it on here, but we one every day matches the color of what I'm wearing. But it says you you only passed through once make a difference.


So and that was the title of the book that she wrote. So I think that that became ingrained in me, the notion of trying to make a difference, giving back, being connected to others in the community and what have you. And we were not in a position to write checks then. But, you know, writing checks is great. But doing the work itself and getting connected to the individuals that you're trying to serve is really the most rewarding part of philanthropy.


In my in my view, it makes it all come to life, makes it all real, gives it more purpose than just sitting and writing checks. Checks are important. Resources are important to make things happen and bring scale. But I think it's it's important to have that background that I would say part of it and my faith I'm Jewish. And, you know, one of the expressions in Judaism is tikkun olam, which means to repair the world or sadakat, I mean, giving and participating.


So those were ingrained in me, even though when I went to services, you know, you don't think you absorb all that. You know, you obviously did became a monk at eighteen.


But but, you know, a lot of the, you know, congregational meetings, I went to a Seder.


I wasn't sure exactly what, but I was absorbing more so than I really thought. So I think those things are very important in terms of my childhood.


Yeah, that's incredible. And like, regardless of how little you had, your mom was your mother was always trying to find time and energy to give to the community in different ways. I think that's a really powerful message. And I think when I bought my first home, I was, you know, thirty two thousand dollars was thirty, thirty two years old. I remember telling my wife then I said, look, I'm not going to embarrass us.


I'll pay off the mortgage. I mean, I'll keep us current. Don't worry about that. I'll pay the bills. But we're never going to pay this mortgage off completely. I just, you know, there's no way, you know, so obviously that part of my life has changed. But remembering that and remembering that experience and what it meant to not have the kind of financial success that we have today going back to those days, I think was very important part of my own molding, if you will.


Absolutely. I think perspective so important. I remember when I was nine years old, I visited India for the first time and my father took me to the home that he grew up in and he grew up in an area where they shared a bathroom with 30 other families. His home was as big as this room, and that's seven people living in this much space. And when I went outside, they were like bats and cockroaches and all this kind of stuff.


And I was just. I couldn't believe that that's where my dad grew up. Yeah, and compared to, you know, we didn't grow up in a huge house in England, but compared to his home. Right, my home was huge. And so for me, it was so important. I feel at nine years old to see that. Right, because it started they started making me feel grateful for what I did have rather than being ungrateful for what I did.


And I think, you know, just as your journey brought you at some point at age 18, I think it was when you decided to, you know, go on the journey of becoming a monk, you know, you're affected by your background, your history, all the connecting points in your life. And sometimes they don't all seem to add up right at the moment. But there's a big puzzle going on in your head and in your heart and in your spirit that actually brings those things together.


And it's, you know, that moment of saying, aha, this is my purpose. This is really what I want to do. I feel at peace with this. I want to you know, I want to go as far as I can down this road, take others with me, travel with others, etc.. So I think it's been beautiful from my standpoint. Yeah.


And tell us how then five years later, at 37, you go from feeling tired of working at a regional hardware store, then going on to build. Well, the biggest what is that process of thinking about it, making it happen, pushing forward? Look, like I was was really grown tired of of doing it. It was a company that was called handed out home improvement centers, which was then the most successful home improvement center company chain in the United States.


But it was was owned by a larger company that was in financial difficulty. So when Bernie and I, my partner who co-founded Home Depot, we we got fired, actually. So it wasn't like, wow, let's you know, it was a lot of political reasons. And that's a whole nother story. But beyond that, it was our chance really to live our lives over again from a business standpoint. And with all those stores were the best run in the United States.


We felt if we ever had to compete with a large, no frills down market warehouse store, we really couldn't couldn't do it. So we said if we couldn't do that, we were on in the best company in that sector that time. Let's try to develop that and go with that. And that was the birth of Home Depot and started in seventy eight. First stores were in 79 alone. So when I left 23 years later, I was the second largest retailer in the world, second only to Wal-Mart, which is a great company.


And they have one of their senior executives here this week as well, and trying to understand wellbeing and wellness and how that relates to the associates that they have. And I don't even know their numbers today. It's probably about a million and a half, maybe more than that is mind boggling.


What I'm really interested in, Arthur, is that what gave you the courage and risk taking off to be fired at the age of 37 to do that? Because I think today and it's interesting, because I was sitting yesterday at a table with Laurie, with Robert, and we were discussing this. And what they were sharing with me is that so many students today at some of the best institutions in the world. Right. And all institutions in the world right now are so scared of doing anything that isn't the path.


And what I mean by the path is they believe that they go to Yale or Harvard. They continue and they have to get a job in what they're studying right now and that they have to live that very narrow line. And they said in their words, they said they know some of their students are doing things they hate just because it's the path. Yeah. Where did you feel the confidence and the risk taking approach to try something new? And how can our audience and listeners today feel that they're not?


All because today people think that all the twenty five and we think we're only twenty eight to try something.


Yeah, I got married at 23 three first time and I said, OK, I'm 22 years old, I need to get married today. Kids are getting married much later. But in any event, I think in my own case probably came from the experience that my that my father passed away at an early age and being an entrepreneur, he was he was working as a pharmacist. He left several years before he passed away, started his own wholesale drug company across America, drugstores, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.


And then when he passed away, my mother took that business over. So I had all these role models in my family of, you know, not giving up, of trying, trying something new, extending yourself, you know, going on that on that journey of being connected with Outward Bound for probably forty years now. And their slogan is to serve, to strive and not to yield. And so I very much believe in that. And the notion that we all can do more than what we thought we're capable of doing and doesn't mean you do it without, you know, you know, safety nets around you.


But but you can't do more than what you thought. So I would encourage and I do encourage people to, as Dr. Dwyer would say, to find the music within you and make sure it gets played. So I think, you know, a lot of us have to find that, you know, that music, if you will, that passion, that that point of physical, mental, spiritual connection that makes us feel we're you know, we're not getting up to work today.


We're getting up to to. Have and have fun, but to do God's work to our do work with purpose, service to others, et cetera. So I think, you know, you try to find and I encourage young people today to try to find out more about making money. If you're good at what you're doing, you're going to be fine. And money really is really not the main attribute to happiness, as you well know. But I think doing what what you find a passion for serving others in some capacity and being part of the greater community, not just of your family, which is obviously critical, but of humanity, you know, brings you the joy and peace.


And I think if you can find a business that in one form or another provides that service, I think you you you create a company expression I use to our managers that you want our associates to feel this company is really worthy of your life. I don't mean that in disrespect to religion or whatever else it may be, but I give you eight, 10, 12 hours a day, whatever it may be. But you want them to come to work and not have to think of it as work.


Think of it as you know. This is part of my mission. I love the values of this organization. I believe in them. I want to stand for them. I want to participate in them. I want to help articulate them. I want to help share them with others was to join our businesses. And I think that that passion, I think and that commitment is what will bring bring a greater sense of joy. And hopefully, you know, I'm thrilled really with, you know, Bob Walding and here in Los Angeles here as best examples and many of the universities.


But there's tremendous thirst that our young people have who at the end of the day really are our future. The young people have to find a greater purpose, find themselves personally and then find a greater connection to others in their community. And humanity is something that I applaud. And that's why your work is so important, because, you know, you're part of, you know, the voices that young people everybody's listening to. I'm 76. I'm not young, but but I mean but everybody is listening to today and trying to get some better guidance, broader guidance, more spiritual guidance, connecting guidance to everything inside of themselves and they would have had otherwise.


So, you know, I'm very optimistic about, you know, the direction that we're going in, but it's not going to happen by itself. It's not going to change by itself. We need people like yourself, Jay, and all the people in the other other rooms that are doing incredible work and making sure that those messages get expanded and we're touching more and more people and find ways to bring bring that message of scale. And I think it's one that that people you know, when somebody has that feeling that I'm not really I mean, this is this is purpose to me in the true sense of the word.


What I'm doing everyday has a purpose. Yeah, absolutely. And when I hear you speak from the first day when you led the introduction to even now, the words like purpose and values, they're so deeply embedded in who you are. And one of the things I loved and we'll try and get a slide to put it onto the video version. But when you first started speaking, you showed us the two value diagrams that I have. And one thing I loved is that there was an upside down pyramid.


Right. And on the upside down pyramid, the bottom of the bottom of the pyramid was not as me and I love that because at the top was customers. Right. And then you had the other secular one with innovation and all these other aspects of values. I'd love for you to talk through some of those. Sure. Because I believe that we hear a lot of people say this stuff. Right. I know. And and you've probably heard it more than I have.


But from spending a bit of time with you and seeing the success of what you've done, it seems like you've actually been able to to really do it. Please share with us some of those values and how you constructed them specifically and where that upside down pyramid and you had the bottom idea came from.


So I think all of our businesses, regardless of their exactly what they're doing, you describe them more well earlier, all at incredibly high, very high success portfolio and results, all based on the same set of values and the same set of values as a wheel six, if you will. But there all have to do with relationships, all have to do with community. Also deal with respect, also do with giving back none of those key values have anything to do with, you know, what's our maximum revenue, what's the rate of profitability, what's our return on sales, et cetera.


It's all has to do with behavior and how we treat the people that was serving. So whether was serving guests here at Mt. Sky or West Creek or whether it was serving customers in our PGA business or whether we're serving fans in our Atlanta Falcons or Atlanta United and our stadium, which has been voted number one state in the country the last two years. Little plug, but, you know, everything we do is all about service to others, so, you know, we know if we do the right things for the right reasons in terms of the tactical decisions.


But if we have this welcoming home that's welcoming feeling where we're more concerned about who is serving than about ourselves, that comes across with a sense of trust and caring. So an example would be just to demonstrate that it is in the National Football League, 32 teams. The last two years, the Atlanta Falcons were voted number one in the NFL for fan experience. Major League Soccer, or its 24 teams, were ranked number one in Major League Soccer in terms of fan experience, but may have a lot of us do a lot of different things in the food beverage and in our unique strategy in that regard, but in the setting, in the stadium.


But beyond that, it has to do with the fact that every single person in any of these venues that we're talking about feels like they're an honored guest, feels like they are. The reason we're there is to serve them. And I would say to you, I mean, our associates are compensated well. But having said that, their greatest compensation, in my view, is that, you know, they're seeing people smile every day. They're making people's dreams come true.


They're making people's problems go away. The sense of community, all of these things that we share and talk about, I mean, they love all that. So our associates feel like, you know, I may have a tough day at home or a tough day, some maybe when they come into work, though, and they're and they're confusing work with play and they're making the opportunity to serve right there is very powerful in terms of enriching their own experience.


So, you know that that's a key driver and everything that we do, we also feel strongly in community and giving back. And and, you know, we do that with the service in the businesses themselves, but we do it in a broader sense in terms of our own philanthropy, our family foundations, you know, 400 million dollars since 1995. And that'll probably, you know, double and triple in the next the next ten years. And then each of our businesses have has an associate led fund to themselves, which is very, very significant dollars.


But the beauty of that is that these are not trained philanthropists. They're just associates. They're not executives necessarily. They're trained, you know, how to go through evaluations, et cetera. They make the decisions. They're closest to the people that are serving. They understand the communities are living in you understand their industries incredibly well. And so they make decisions about, you know, how much we're going to allocate in certain areas. And they they do that work and we support them.


We don't guide them. We just you know, we give them X amount of dollars and they take care of it. The beauty of that is that the associates feel a tremendous sense of pride then not just in their work, quote unquote, which is having purpose in terms of serving others, but also their part. They're physically part of going out and doing site visits and a variety of settings and making decisions about, you know, well, you know, we've been blessed here.


How do we help others? You know, how do we how do we do this work and expand it? So to have that pride that gives the associates even more purpose and more sense of that. You know, when I publicly said from my standpoint, look, whatever's left over 98 percent of my state is going to be going back through philanthropy, family, foundation, my kids foundations, associate led foundations, because I you know, I've I don't need any more clothing.


I don't need any more of anything. I need more, you know, growth myself. But but I want to see you know, I want to see the world a better place than it is currently today and be part of that. And our associates feel that way.


Even if the holidays look different this year, it doesn't mean you have to miss out on one of the best parts of the season, the music. This holiday season. My wife and I have gotten in spirit by playing one of the many holiday music playlists from Amazon. Music on repeat. In our home we are big fans of the softer classical playlist like The Nutcracker Suite and more than a peaceful Festive and make our home feel like it's a winter wonderland.


I've had Roddy say Alexa play The Nutcracker more times than I can count this last month and I couldn't think of a cozier soundtrack for our home this season. Listen. At home or wherever you are, your holidays will be Mario with fun festive tunes. Remember, for a limited time, new subscribers can get three months off Amazon Music Unlimited for free. Go to forward slash on purpose. That's forward slash on purpose to get your first three months of Amazon music free.


It starts at seven point ninety nine a month. After that, you subscribe subscribers. Only terms of play offer expires eleventh of January 2021.


So the upside down pyramid, if you will, with guess customers, fans on top and be on the bottom, it reinforces the message that the people that are most important are the people I was serving. I mean, it's not you know, it's not a bunch of words we embody that we tell stories around that, et cetera. And then we have our front line associates who are the next ones, a touching and feeling all of our all of our guests or our fans, customers.


And then, you know, it's my job and other associates, the leadership level, to provide an environment to make sure they have the resources, to make sure they have the strategy, to make sure that we we create goals for them at a reasonable etc. and give them support. So and your question, which is probably the best question that as a business person you ask is that, you know, if an entrepreneur has a vision and it's successful, but once they try to expand it, it becomes not successful.


So, you know, at Home Depot, we we struggle with that as well. We had four stores. I remember meeting with the gentleman from Goldman Sachs who was the most highly regarded banker on Wall Street in the retail space. And and he he said that we said, well, you have these four stores, you know, Atlanta, the very successful and you have unique culture. But, you know, he didn't ask me a question. I was only 37.


So I was like, well, meeting this guy is a really big deal. So I you know, he said, as you expand, you're not going to be able to maintain this culture. You just not to be able to do it. He said you guys are so physically involved, the level of training and the level of commitment level of their associates, understanding your viewpoints and all of us. So it was troubling coming from him because we had aspirations to become a national company, which obviously with 2200 stores now and stores in Mexico, Canada and us, it's you know, it's, you know, amazing story.


But the key to that was not what's on a piece of paper, not the six core values that we live. It was not really the inverted triangle, but the ability to make sure that we would term it in case the Home Depot was orange aprons. It was orange, a lot of orange in our business that our associates, you know, blood orange, if you will. And what that means is that they understood the values. We didn't make them write them down.


We didn't make them. They weren't the same exactly in this order. But did they live them? Could they articulate them and whatever words they wanted? But most importantly, could they live them? So that ability to understand and live our values and become a role model and lead by example is one of our core values, lead by example. So you saw last night that I served by so I mean, you know, this is maybe off the subject a little bit.


But I mean, the example is it's important. It's not just important. I do it at Mount Sky as well. Our guest ranch open to the public because, you know, I want the guests to really see me in a position of service to others. I want our associates to see that it's not just a bunch of words. Actually, leading by example is nothing that I wouldn't do to help. Last year at Mount Sky, I was sitting in a bar and having a drink and I heard somebody say, well, you know, our bathroom is not working and, you know, it's over there.


So I went and I fixed it myself. And it was another one was at work and I fixed it myself. So, you know, I came back, I, I just, you know, that's kind of my nature, you know, it's not working. Go fix it. I'm out of time, too. I have to ask anybody else to do it. I did it myself. So the associates the next day I'd come say to me, we heard that you actually were fixing toilets yesterday.


I said, well, yeah.


I mean, it was you know, it's part of what we do is that we have to lead by example and those storytelling, those examples and picking the right people behind that, that understand those things and live those things are the way you expand a organization over a broader scale. If you have really bright people, they don't get what you're doing. They don't get your purpose in your vision. And it's not going to work. Doesn't mean they're not right.


Doesn't mean they're not good, doesn't mean they don't have a different purpose in life, but they're not going to be able to support your organization. So, you know much of what you're doing and expanding. It's so incredibly in the last three years, you know, you have to have the right people around you. People want to stand getti. People want to stand your values that they can have their own. But it has to be, in a certain sense, has to have a sense of service and sense of purpose deeply ingrained as well.


When I meet someone, I most ended by their humility and by their character more than how much money they've made successful. They are. And I think that's all of us why we remember people based on how they make us feel. Right. As opposed to what they have or what they say. And I think the fact that you've been able to do that in an organization. Tell me about a time out there where actually you may have made a mistake or a failure in the organization.


I'm sure there were many. But any that stand out to you, where you. Really learned an important lesson that stayed with you, that made you change. I hope there weren't too many, but but there was some give an example, and this was one at Home Depot as an example. We the only acquisition we made when when I was there and Bernie was there was a group of nine stores that were in our industry. They had stores in Dallas and elsewhere in Louisiana and Mobile and Baton Rouge, et cetera.


And so we acquired the stores. And then what our decision was that we didn't want to lose the volume that they had. It was a fraction of the volume that we had. But we don't want to lose on a very paranoid about losing volume, focused always on revenue. And so we decided to keep them open, change the stores. So it really was kind of like changing tires on a car that's going, you know, even 30 miles an hour gets very ugly, very difficult to do, et cetera, et cetera.


So we we opened the stores. We realized we had and physically we had changed the stores. They look like traditional Home Depot stores, great stores. But the the associates didn't really get us because we hadn't really put them through the kind of training and exposure and understanding that was critical to all of our associates. So there was a separation there from, you know, our values that which drives everything to the people that were serving the customers who, you know, were well intended, but they didn't understand our priorities, understood the traditional priorities, which was not as rigorous about customer service as ours was.


So we ended up closing those stores for a short while and, you know, putting everything on pause, technology associates, training them, doing everything we had to do, et cetera, et cetera. When they reopened, they reopened as as our Home Depot store. So I I think that was an example of where we got a little ahead of ourselves and probably, you know, forgot to check certain boxes that we needed to check.


Another example, and both in our PJ business today is a good example where we're expanding at about a million square feet in golf, retail and the next five years, which is there's nobody in golf retail expanding anywhere. And people talk the same way. But it's been extraordinarily successful. But the point is that those stores require a high level of service and people understanding the industry club fitting ball fitting, you know, et cetera, et cetera, and and relationships, the customers, et cetera.


So to our guests in the store.


So, you know, we take a lot of time now and moving a large group of people to the new store to make sure that we don't make that mistake again. So those number of people can train the additional 40, 50, 60 people that we're hiring and making sure that they get our culture. So, you know, culture really drives everything that we do. I mean, everything we do, those value sets, they every everything that we do.


And, you know, the body can only absorb change at a certain rate and pace at a certain rate.


So I think it's it's important to be able to acknowledge that and make sure that, you know, whatever your culture is, it doesn't get diluted as you expand. More often than not, it does happen. I've had some experiences. And, you know, one other example that when we went at Home Depot, we start to expand into the Midwest. We went to Detroit with a group of stores and we realized that we were opening up stores that we have store and a half store every day and a half, and that we couldn't really sustain that rate of of growth.


So we we went to the board, Bernie, and I said, look at we decide we're going to maintain a growth rate of no more than twenty five percent a year and nothing to do with financial modeling. And everything had to do with how many associates could we impact, you know, higher impact chain, make sure they understood our orientation, became Home Depot fanatics, blood orange, you know, all those things we asked them to do. We said that's the most that we can possibly do.


So we we kept our growth down to a point that we can that we can still produce the kind of success and deliver the kind of experiences and all of our businesses. Same thing happens out here. The ranches that we've made some adjustments over the years. We do it very slowly, very modestly, because we don't want the experience to change. You know, we want to make sure that everybody's ready for the change.


Absolutely. Absolutely. And that's amazing advice for all of us. Anyone who's listening or watching right now and is growing a small team and a larger one, an entrepreneur that's expanding that business culture is that thing that's going to make sure that you succeed in the long run. And it's so easy to hire fast and hire quickly. And I know Alex and I and with the businesses that I work with right now, we're actually some of the slowest hiring people in the world.


Well, and it's it's it's you know, it's it's terribly important. I mean, I had a CEO of a major competitor of ours meet with me once. I was actually playing golf over Augusta as a guest. And he was there and he said to me, well, you know, if you're here around lunchtime, I'm out of the putting.


And, you know, come over, say hi and I know him, so I did so and he had left he had left the company at that point and he said, you know, we sent we pay a visit to one of your stores a year. And at that point in time, we had stores in July as well, he said. And we could copy everything. We copy the size, the pricing, the assortment, the signing. I mean, everything he said.


We said we'd go around and ask people, you know, culture thing, value thing in a matter where we went, no matter who we spoke to, they all said the same thing in their own words, but they all were doing the same thing and we were not able to do that in our company. And but that's because, you know, we recognized the importance and that it was not a new message every single day. It was the same messages over and over and over and over again to the point people said, oh, boy, here we go again.


This is a customer service exam. And every example that we could find of great customer service, we celebrated that. I mean, we had issues with, you know, that we had to struggle with as well as a company. But we celebrated the successes and particularly important successes and how many stores you opened up, the fact that our earnings per share grew at forty nine percent a year for 23 years, a stock that quickly. We didn't talk about the stock market and how wealthy were making people, although we had a lot of pride in that, because then we gave other people the financial capacity to make a difference in their own lives and have a financial purpose in their lives and taking care of their family, extended family, community, giving back.


But so it was it's a you know, it's a it's a beautiful model because it's it's one where associates and who you're serving will appreciate the investment you've made and doing the right things for the right reasons. Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And like you said earlier, the author and Black Family Foundation has given 400 million dollars over since 1995 to so many incredible ventures. And many of them have been in the space of childhood development, education and the arts and parks and green space.


And I wanted to know why you specifically selected each of those three. I mean, they're so beautiful in their own right. But I'd love to know from your own perspective as to why you believe those three areas are so important.


Well, I think, you know, anything doesn't have to be in Montana. Obviously, most people don't live here. But, you know, anything connected to green space, to parks, to nature, to getting outside, to find that solitude, that quietness, that place where you can reflect and a place where you actually can, you know, go with family and friends and experience things that that aren't driven by, you know, on my phone every every three and a half minutes or less.


So I think that, you know, that's an area that we've always felt very strongly about. Obviously, we're involved with conservation here in Montana as well and elsewhere in the West. So it wasn't it's not just these two ranches, which we think are models in terms of ranches should operate, not just from a guest standpoint, but from, you know, in terms of the the the actual ag process that we have going on. So we've always felt strong about being outside, being connected to nature.


The big connect to people that you're outside with, it opens up a different perspective on viewing the world and viewing each other and having that sense of community, a sense of community is so important. I was raised in an apartment house and and as the rest of my family. But you know, what's interesting is that in those apartment houses, when I was during the summer and was warm even in the fall and spring was in New York City, people would bring their little chairs downstairs and everybody would sit outside the apartment because they had that, you know, that need, desire for connection to others.


And and I think that's true whether you're living in an apartment or whether you're living in a home or you're living. So we had our ranches. We don't promote the use of technology. Sorry for that. But I but I mean, you know, there are places where people can use technology because of conferences and other work, but we don't actively promote it. We want people to get outside. We want people to experience nature. We want people to touch and feel things that silence, that solitude and that, you know, finding a quietness with themselves, that intercom, which they can do so beautifully in nature.


Public education has always been a big issue for me. I was a public school my whole life, didn't I went to a didn't go to private schools. I went to college. I went to Small Business School, Babson College out of Boston. And so I feel like, you know, you know, the more that we can do in terms of public education at a higher level creates, you know, really unlocks minds of all of our young people.


That exposure. Thomas Friedman was right. Many years ago. I wrote his book, The World is Flat. And I think we're realizing that more and more and more all the time. The books. Twenty five years old. But reality is that we're seeing that every day it's becoming less curved and more flat and everybody's connected. And I think. That's a wonderful thing. So I think, you know, public education, because not everybody. A very few people can afford private schools and, you know, kind of an answer that's that's just works for a handful of people, relatively.


So that's always been very important to my family and and my children as well. And they're very actively involved in that arena. So those are some of the things we do a lot of work in areas of culture because we think culture is another way. There's a lot of times it's too much of an emphasis, in my opinion, on on book learning and what have been. Some people learn differently. They learn by expressing themselves through yoga, watch through athletics, through whatever it may be, music, drama.


And so I think you have to let people kind of find themselves in that in those ways as well, sadly, within the public education area. A lot of those opportunities for expression have been cut back and eliminated. So we'd like to see more of that expanded over time because I think it's very healthy for everybody.


Yeah, I love that. How you've chosen three things that encourage so much internal growth right now. I feel like your investment in parks and green spaces is about people finding internal content. Even this week, we've had all these incredible outdoor activities that you've arranged in the teams arranged here for everyone to partake in. And we've seen how people are bonding closer when they're out and about in green spaces and outdoors and going on these beautiful walks and writing or whatever else it may be.


Right. And and especially what you're speaking about, the education system, of course. And then I think you're spot on when you talk about how arts and the arts allow us to express ourselves more effectively and how that's never, always encouraged. Right. And so you investment in that space, I'm sure, is made. Well, I think, you know, as you know, many of our guests know that, you know, that education you know, the book education is very important.


The life education is in many cases even more important than exposure and what have you. It's one of the reasons we our foundation has just just started to invest on an international basis. We're doing work in Africa, doing work in the Caribbean, etc.. But one of the reasons is not because, you know, I mean, we don't have enough opportunities within the United States. We do. And much needs we do. But I wanted to send an important message to our family and to our associates is that, you know, not just talking about, you know, humankind being being connected, but actually demonstrate that.


So and, you know, the case of Nigeria with 60 percent of the population lives on less than a dollar a day. You know, we want people to be aware of that. And, you know, how do we participate and support answers in those areas of the world? So I think that the notion that we are our brothers keepers, which is integral part of our faith in the faith of, you know, part of everybody's faith, I believe is very important.


And it's not just starts maybe with your family, your extended family, your community, but it really has to include everybody on the face of the earth. That's why the earth is important. You know, the earth is important because we all live here, because we got to take care of it a little better than we have been. Absolutely.


That that resonates so strongly with me, because one of the reasons why I became a monk and one of our teachings was that you became a monk and you were free from your basic family responsibilities so that you could see the whole world as your family. Right. And so that you could go and extend yourself even further. And I think it's beautiful to see you do that. I mean, you have six children and six grandchildren. Six and six. Yeah, six and six.


What is your what is the little dogs, the dogs as well. And what is and what are the what is the legacy that you're hoping that they're going to carry forward to the future generations is the foundation.


Well, I don't you know, I think it's important for them to to find themselves. You know, they need to climb mountains. They need to explore themselves.


They need to, you know, fall down and pick themselves up or to need to deal with adversity and growth, both physically and personally. So are all the children are all involved, our family foundation. And we're actively involved in a variety of areas that we've talked about. Many we haven't, but they're involved in all of them. In addition to that, they're each one is starting their own foundation now, much smaller. But I want to see make sure they know how to evaluate, make sure they know how to do their work, et cetera.


Because when you're giving, you're giving you always getting more. I mean, it makes no difference whether it's physical work or financial or whatever it may be. The more we give, the more we get back. That's just kind of the way the math of the world works universe and our and our social work. So the younger children have age, age appropriate exposure to philanthropy, 122, 22 to 18. So they're younger, but they're getting exposed to it mostly by doing not by writing checks, but by doing things have been connected in service in a.


Driveways, and they're interested in all of our businesses as well, but, you know, bringing them along very slowly, make sure they understand our values, that nothing is going to be given to them, whatever they get as to be earned and earn, primarily through understanding these values, living these values, being a great role model, caring about community, caring about others, caring about service, caring about purpose.


And, you know, my my hope my desire as a parent is that, you know, the children will grow when I'm long gone and they will have their own, you know, their own set of values, values. Hopefully they've learned from their mother, their mothers and their father, and they'll continue to do, you know, the work that we're doing today and expanded? I mean, I don't I don't have a written set of of things.


These are the seven things we're going to do after I'm gone. So I'm not going to manage my foundation from my grave. I have enough faith in my children and they'll make the right decisions based on the passions they know. The father has their own passions, which are critical. So they really feel like they're doing the work that's important to them and that they are doing work that's important in terms of the times that we're facing. So as well-being, you know, wellness, wellbeing notion is, is that a critical mass, you know, today in our in our country, if not the world, but certainly in our country, whether it be the rate of suicides which continue to climb a dramatic rates which affect, you know, the veteran population, a very young population, 10 to 14, and it's double what it is on a national basis.


So there are, you know, those serious issues we're facing today. They'll have other maybe issues in the future. And so whatever they are, you know, they should feel, you know, the passion, the drive to want to make a difference in those areas and put themselves and resources in place to help others, you know, come to a better conclusion that that whatever it may be.


I've read that your favorite quote on a t shirt is that there is no finish line.


The Wi-Fi is good right near the finish line. What does that mean to you? And also, what is the personal work you're doing right now in that regard? What are the internal things that you're working on at this stage of your life?


Well, I think, you know, it came came to me primarily for my running. Initially, I ran competitively and Nike had the T-shirt, so there is no finish line. That was the guy running in the woods and couldn't find another one of them. I saw someplace I Phil Knight was kind enough. Nike was kind enough to get me one of the shirts.


And, you know, I think in virtually all areas of my life, I understand that, you know you know, the next day isn't necessarily the end is always more to do and et cetera, et cetera. And I think you have to have the ability to deal with adversity, get bounce back, you know, and continue putting one step in front of the other. I got that from my long distance running. You probably got that from me.


Monkhood and maybe athletics as well, and the other areas of your life.


But you know, the ability to understand that these problems that we're facing are not you know, you're not in and out in five or 10, 15 minutes. It's not a transaction. It's about relationships. All of our businesses that way, it's never about the transaction. It's always about the relationship. So these causes, these issues that we have today in our country and we're wide, not going to go away tomorrow. So we have to have the wisdom to understand that.


We also have to have the tenacity to say we're going to make a dent and we're going to make a difference, just as my mother said in the bracelet I'm wearing. But we're going to make a difference every day. We're going to continue to strive to move forward and to make a difference in that area.


So I think, you know, it's important. I think my oldest daughter would say, dad, that, you know, I love the expression, I love the feeling. But, you know, which brings me back to myself a little bit. But at some point, you know, in your life, you need to you know, you need to be able to say that I'm kind of out of it to be at peace with where you are.


And that's where I think my version of wellness and well-being has changed because it used to be running seven days a week. If I didn't do that, you know, that was that was my design around fitness and well-being in many ways, you know, physical fitness is important. But I think the whole notion of trying to dig deeper and really understand myself and my real purpose and, you know, how are we connecting the dots as well as we can, taking time for myself to every day to do meditation.


I need to get back on that horse again. I did it for a number of months with, you know, I got encouragement by Deepak Chopra, but I you get back. I want to do it again. Was I saw the value of that, you know, for a very long period of time. The work I do in terms of yoga. And just the quietness, living in a quiet space and taking time to reflect, and it's one of the reasons I love Montana, we come out here and we or we hike or whatever it may be, horseback ride and and see this beautiful scenery.


But it's quiet time. So the ability to be calm and ability to reflect, the ability to blend into my life every day where I'm not kind of a gerbil on the wheel, which is constantly running ability to get off that you off that you know, that cycle and pause reflect, you know, understand Bill back my strength, my my vision. I think that's been an important part of my own personal growth. That part of it didn't take place until, you know, probably just maybe four or five years ago.


I think when I began to think more about, you know, in a broader sense, a deeper sense of purpose and and service to others.


Amazing. I think you've been incredible. We end every interview with what we call the final five Quick Fire, Rapid Fire round, so you can only answer the questions with one word or maximum one sentence. And so what I've done is we've created considering your name is Arthur Blank, we've we've done this final five is fill in the blanks so I can ask you I'm going to ask you to fill in the blank at the end of the sentence. So the first question is, the best advice I've ever received is blank.


So what would it be the best advice to be true to my values? OK, wonderful. The second question is the worst advice I've ever received is blank. I would say, you know, focus the focus on, you know, productivity, the focus on financial metrics, you know, as being the goal versus, you know, all the other things in terms of behavior and and changing people's lives in a positive way and seeing the joy in that, you know, that's.


Great answer. OK, question number three, three things I'm grateful for are like, well, I have to start my family, you know, six six grandchildren, six great grandchildren and great you know, I've been married multiple times, unfortunately, but I have a great relationship with all of my ex-wives and they're all wonderful people. And so I'd say my, you know, my my family, my relationships, I think my ability as a result of our business success, to try to have an opportunity to expand what service means of others.


Great that with our associates and who was serving and all of our different businesses. Yeah. Do this one blank thing and it will change your life. What would you put into that blank? Find your passion? Because I think when somebody's going to add on another other words.


Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm going to say absolutely know, because I think when people find their passion. Yes. And their purpose, you know, financially, they're going to do as well, if not better than they ever would have done doing anything else.


And, you know, their years here, which are, you know, limited, they're measured, if you will, are going to be much more enriched because they're going to feel like what I'm doing, what I'm really doing as purpose for me and purpose for others that I'm trying to serve. And so I think finding purpose, which is not always easy. I mean, sometimes people wander around a bit. You did you describe your journey and myself as well?


I had my own, you know, journeys there. But when you find it, you need to, you know, stop and honor it and to move with it. And and all good things come as a result of that, you know, in terms of quality of life. Absolutely. And the fifth and final question is the one thing that you're hoping this beautiful four or five days we had here in Montana will result in. Well, I think there are two there are two things to expand the question a little bit.


One is that, you know, the great connections that you have made with so many other people here and they've made with you and with each other. I think so. So I think those physical connections, emotional is one thing to know somebody. But when you spend four days together in this setting, you get a deeper, deeper understanding of people's perspectives and their views and how can we work together? Two and two equals eight and 10 instead of just four or five for myself.


So I think that has been very invaluable. The other thing is, is that I think we'll be able to focus for our foundation and, you know, draw and other foundations and other institutions that care about these things, you know, some really good ideas to help support the expansion of the notion of wellbeing and wellness and to give exposure to that to other populations that don't necessarily have that or see that and to, you know, to not, you know, have this widen this gap that we have in America today is just too extreme.


And in my viewpoint and I think, you know, we need to do more of this and bring people together, not necessarily, you know, economically as equals, because that's not reality in a capitalistic world. But, you know, to bring people together in terms of their well-being and their happiness and their ability to feel fulfilled in life. So we want to, you know, get in the canoe and paddle along with everybody else and paddle as hard as everybody else.


And so we can make a difference and try to earn the, you know, the respect and the opportunity. It's an honor, really having everybody here. From my standpoint, it's an overwhelming honor to have not just the intelligence in the room, but the commitment and the sense of purpose and the sense of trying to reach out and make a difference in the world is incredible to me. So anything we can do support the collaboration and supporting the partnerships, new ideas, expanding ideas, scaling up ventures, et cetera, which is much of what I know your concern is going forward.


How do we impact more people, which is great. We want to be part of that. So it's an honor for me, truly an honor for me to be here this week and to just be part of this experience of my life. I'll never forget. I've gotten a great deal out of it, much more than, you know. I've gotten much more out of it than we put into it. And that's the beauty of it. When you do things with service and purpose, you really do get more out of it than what you give.


Well, I want to thank you on behalf of me and all the other participants, because I think you've allowed us to form such deep, amazing relationships. There's many people in this room that I would have loved to connect with or meet. And you're so right that when you go away with people for three or four days, you go so much deeper, so much quicker than you would if you met at a conference or a one day event or whatever it may be.


So I just want to say thank you for the welcome for me. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for the encouragement. You've given me so many wonderful votes of confidence this week and just sharing so much support, encouragement for the work I do, which has given me so much conviction and I'm very grateful for all the work that you do is incredible. And it really has, you know, tremendous purpose to it and and a high degree of success.


So I want to do everything we can do to help support you and support, you know, the people you're touching and trying to help with their life journeys.


So I think it's a great place to do it, because when you spend time outdoors, you realize, you know, you're kind of dwarfed by nature, by things that have been here for thousands and thousands of years. And also everybody puts on their pants the same way. It's a level playing field. Nobody's wearing suits. I was wearing ties. Everybody's just, you know, being themselves and they're opening themselves up. And in this kind of environment, it's easier to do that.


And so that's the reason we wanted to continue to do this work here.


Absolutely. Thank you again. Thank you. Everyone has been watching or listening back at home or wherever you've been to make sure you go and follow the Black Foundation on Instagram and on Twitter, on the social media platforms as well. If you want to find out about the great work, not only we've been doing, but all the other incredible work that the author and Black Family Foundation does, please check out this podcast, share it with other people that you feel are going to benefit from this incredible presence around service, incredible presence around giving and doing through our work.


And for anyone who is aspiring to be an entrepreneur out there, what better values than the ones that have been talked about in this show makes you share those on Instagram so that I can share them as well. I'm always looking through what you're learning so that that helps me ask better questions and serve you better. Thank you so much for listening and watching. Author. Thank you so much for that. It's an honor to be here. Thank you very much.


Thank you. This podcast was produced by Dust Light Productions, our executive producer from Duss lt is Meesha Usif. Our senior producer is Julianna Bradley. Our associate producer is Jacqueline Castillo. Valentino Rivera is our engineer. Our music is from Blue Dot Sessions and special thanks to Rachel Garcia, the dust like development and operations coordinator.