I came across a story not too long ago about the electronics retailer Best Buy. I found something interesting in the story from which I think we as Christians can learn. Just a brief number of years ago, Best Buy was ripping along as one of the nation’s top and most respected retailers. In 2001 Discount Store News named Best Buy the “Specialty Retailer of the Decade.” In 2004 Forbes magazine named Best Buy the “Company of the Year, and in 2005 Forbes ranked the company in the Top 10 of “America’s Most Generous Corporations.” Furthermore, Best Buy made Fortune magazine’s list of “Most Admired Companies” in 2006. Everything was coming up roses for Best Buy.
Then came 20012, and the proverbial wheels came off. . . everything seemed to be going wrong for Best Buy. In April 2012, Brian Dunn resigned as Best Buy’s CEO during an internal company investigation into allegations of personal misconduct stemming from an inappropriate relationship with a female Best Buy employee. Employee engagement and morale appeared to be at an all-time low. And Best Buy stores were losing money hand over fist as customers tested desired products only to buy them online from Amazon at cheaper prices. Best Buy was dying a slow death.
But fast forward to today, and Best Buy is once again thriving! The company ranked No. 72 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue. Just this year Barron’s (magazine/newspaper published by Dow Jones & Company) named Best Buy ”The Most Sustainable Company in the United States.” The company’s stock price is now surging, and workers seem happier than ever.
So, how did Best Buy turn it around?
Well, although 2012 was overall a bad year for the company, Best Buy did something really right in September of that year by appointing Hubert Joly, the new CEO (now executive chairman) and he had an inspired vision: promote practicing humility and focusing on people. With these concepts in mind and in his first months on the job, Joly visited Best Buy stores (and even worked at a store for a week), giving him the chance to speak directly to front line employees. Based on their feedback, Joly fixed broken systems, restored a beloved employee discount program, and invested in employee training. The rest is as they say “history.”
Joly and Best Buy’s success then is directly attributable to making the practice of humility and focusing on people as core values. Wow! novel concepts. Well, not so much. Where have we heard this before? Oh yeah, from the life and teachings of Jesus! I don’t know if this is where Joly got his vision, but it certainly didn’t originate with him.
Consider what Jesus told his disciples in Matt. 20:25-27: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.” And then again in John 13:13-15 when Jesus washed his disciple’s feet; “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” Furthermore, consider what we are to do in light of the life of Jesus in Phil. 2:3-5: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”
Now, whether Best Buy would ever attribute its success to the life and teachings of Jesus, I have no idea. But I do know this. If you and I practice humility (defined as confidence in God that leads to confidence in oneself in living a modest and completely committed Christian lifestyle) and regularly put people first and ahead of ourselves, we, like Best Buy, will positively turn things around in our lives. Furthermore, we will become successful as God defines success in living out God’s perfect will of loving Him and loving our neighbor (Matt. 22:37-39).
Living with humility and putting people first in our lives will make us attractive to those around us and potentially motivate them to buy-in to our lives and our Christian message of hope. When they buy-in to us because of our imitating the life and teachings of Jesus, they will find that we, like Jesus, are truly the best buy in town!
Uh, no pun intended. Ok, maybe there was.