Chapter 11

Everything You Need to Know about Succeeding with Customers (in about an Hour)

The customer . . . can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.

—Sam Walton

MORE THAN ANY OTHER WORDS HANDED down by our founding fathers, there’s one simple household saying, coined in America, that has changed the course of history and made our country the colossus of capitalism. It repositioned the ancient status quo that the elites and aristocrats were the only holders of power. It said that the vast, unwashed public that makes up the markets matters, that what’s in other people’s heads matters. Their free decisions on what to buy will decide who among us becomes the next barons and billionaires. The paradigm shifted from “we” on the inside to “they” on the outside. This magical phrase is:

The customer is always right.

It isn’t in the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution, but it should have been. It’s credited to one of the 19th-century entrepreneurs of retail like Marshall Field of Chicago or R. H. Macy, but no one knows for sure who first said. What we do know is that it’s a MAP—a Master Aligning Principle that instantly sets the mission straight for any entrepreneur in any society where people are free to choose.

The customer is always right.

Well . . . almost.


The Internet age has disrupted a great many things, even the customer’s privilege of always being right. Innovation is ...

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