Attention, Wal-Mart shoppers, Wal-Mart workers and Burning Man personnel. Maybe your hopes and dreams aren’t so different after all.
A couple of weeks ago, traveling in Arkansas, I stopped in at the Bentonville storefront where the Wal-Mart empire began. It’s a visitor center now with exhibits on corporate history. I picked up a brochure listing Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton’s 10 rules for building a business. All very sensible and offered in six languages. I stuffed the brochure into my pocket.
Then a few days later, visiting San Diego, I heard a speech by Chip Conley, who is, among other things, a board member of the Burning Man Project. That’s right, the annual later-summer tribal party in the Black Rock Desert outback of northern Nevada, where about 50,000 artists and revelers unite amid throbbing music, body paint and an ignited effigy or two. Not only does Burning Man have a board of directors, those directors have business cards, and on the back of the business cards are 10 guiding principles. Conley gave me a card, and I stuffed it in my pocket.
So now I’m back from the road with one list (printed on orange paper) to my right, and another (printed on blue paper) to my left. This is a nice reminder that travel will mess with your mind as thoroughly as any drug or management-training program. It also shows that human beings love lists, and the number 10, and making plans for other people, whether we’re moving merchandise in a suburban big box or dancing naked in the desert.