The Cardinal Points of Business(c)

Cardinal Point-North

             Delivering an Exceptional Experience

Historically, as detailed in Michael Porter's seminal book Competitive Strategies, businesses have competed in three generic arenas of competitive strategy: cost leadership, differentiation, and focus. 

Today, however, Consumers are attracted to a Fourth Economic Value...the Experience They Receive from Your Product or Service.

The Experience You Delivery & How It Makes Your Customers/Clients Feel are directly related to their level of Satisfaction & Engagement...and by extension, your brand.

Delivering an Exceptional Experience has Never been more Important. ​

​A few years ago, Bain & Co. surveyed 362 companies and found that 80% of the executives surveyed believed they delivered a superior experience to their customers.

When surveyors asked the customers of those companies the same question, astoundingly, only 8% felt they received Superior Experience. Closing the Delivery Gap, Bain & Co. 2005

At True North, Consumer Experience and Engagement is our North Cardinal Point for the obvious reason…without consumers, none of us would be in business.  

Understanding how our organizations “measure up” to your customer's expectations and experiences are keys to planning for and delivering exceptional execution.

The beginning point of the True North Executive Coaching & Consulting service is providing

you with an understanding of where your customers stand relative to their experience with your brand.  Much like the title of the Bain & Co. study, we begin by providing each client with an objective assessment of their Experience Delivery Gap.

As a certified CX Pro by one of the premier thought leaders in Customer Experience (CX) we work with leadership & appropriate team members through our coaching & consulting process to develop and improve the CX journey of your customers, then help you set up the True North CX Performance Measurement & Monitoring System to help you measure & monitor improvements, Value & ROI.

Call us to discuss an independent assessment of the experience you are currently delivering.


Cardinal Point - East

Employee Engagement

Workshop & Coaching Platform

Cardinal Point - South

Leadership Effectiveness

Executive Coaching

Leadership determines the direction & focus of our metaphorical business compass to the area in most need of attention. At any given point in the business journey, leadership can direct the organization towards improving the customers' experience, enhancing employee engagement, or increasing brand awareness.  Sometimes, however, the direction that is needed is in Leadership Effectiveness or continued development for the next generation of leaders.  Improving the level of Emotional Intelligence of your leadership team can help.

In January 2018, The World Economic Forum published their Future Jobs Report listing the Top 10 Job Skills needed by the year 2020 for what they called “The Fourth Generation Industrial Revolution.”


Emotional Intelligence was listed #6; what was more revealing was that 5 of the other job skills listed in the report were directly related to the core competencies found in emotionally intelligent leaders.


Emotional Intelligence has many definitions, most of which, revolve around one central theme: our ability to regulate and recognize emotions in ourselves and others.

A study by Hay McBer Associates found that of 3,781 employees completing their survey,

50% - 70% of employees’ perceptions of their working climate was directly linked to the Emotional Intelligent Characteristics of their leaders. 

We are proud to be certified by Genos International, as an Emotional Intelligence Practitioner.  Genos, founded in 2002 by Dr. Benjamin Palmer, is a leading global Emotional Intelligence Assessment firm.  To learn more about Genos and the work we do please visit Genos International their website at

The importance of employee engagement has steadily grown over the past few years as studies and experience have proven that engaged employees add value to a company and its customers.

Engaged employees are more productive and have a positive impact on those around them.  Whereas, employees who are actively disengaged can cause problems for managers, co-workers, and most importantly...customers.


In August of 2018, the Gallop organization issued its annual report on Employee Engagement.  For the report, Gallop randomly surveyed 30,628 adults working full or part-time.  They found at the 95% confidence level, that 34% of the workforce in the United States were “engaged,” 53% were “not engaged,” and 16.5% were “actively disengaged.”


The survey defined “engaged employees” (34%) as workers who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace.  Those defined as “not engaged,” (53%) were generally satisfied but not cognitively or emotionally connected to their work and workplace; they show up and do the minimum required but are more likely to leave for a slightly better offer.  Those categorized as “actively disengaged,” (16.5%) were defined as having miserable work experience and, at times, make everyone else around them miserable and are very likely to leave at the earliest opportunity.


Considering the statistics from the Gallop Report on Employee Engagement, the prospects of losing employees are great, and the cost associated with that loss is ever-increasing.  Building and maintaining an engaged workforce adds value to your customers and your bottom line.


True North can help by co-designing and conducting an objective employee engagement survey that will statistically measure your organization’s current level of employee engagement and performance providing you with an objective report detailing our findings.  We then work with your team to develop performance-based initiatives to enhance employee experience. Going forward, if you like, we will periodically monitor employee engagement and performance levels of your organization & the impact on your bottom line.

Ever wonder about your organization’s current level of employee engagement and performance and

how is it impacting your bottom-line?


Ask us about our Cardinal Points Global Performance Survey “GPS”.

Today Brand Management and Brand Experience are just as important, if not more so

than Brand Awareness.

At True North, we work with our clients to align their Vision, Value, Mission, and Brand Promise Statements with the core competencies found in The Cardinal Points of Business© helping our clients craft a Brand Awareness Strategy focused on what matters most...customer satisfaction.  Expand your Brand Awareness by alignment with and implementing the Cardinal Points of Business (c). 

Entrepreneurial Experience & Credentials

Built, Sold, and Successfully Transitioned 2 Businesses

Columbia University

Graduate Executive & Organizational Coaching Program

3CP Designation

Certified Executive Coach  

Center for Executive Coaching

Advanced Certificate Family Business Advisor

Family Firm Institute


Advanced Certificate Family Wealth Advisor

Family Firm Institute


Institute for Preparing Heirs

Family Dynamics & Wealth Transfer Program

Competitive Strategy Studies 

The Wharton School

Executive Studies

Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner

Genos International &

The Ei Academy

Certified Customer Experience CX Pro

Forresters CX Program

PuMP Certified 

Performance Measurement


Bachelor of Science, Business Administration

Arkansas State University

  • Bo Boykin

Leadership—Overcoming Disappointment What if…Sam Walton had Stayed in Newport?

A few weeks ago my wife and I were driving from our home in Tampa to our daughter’s in Dallas. As we passed another tractor trailer in the never ending chain of trucks along I-75, I noticed its familiar blue lettering, Walmart—Bentonville, Arkansas.

As a native Arkansan, I recalled that Sam Walton began his business career in Newport, Arkansas about 30 miles from my hometown of Batesville. With miles and time ahead of me I began to wonder…why did Sam Walton move from Newport to Bentonville?

The story that unfolded involved decisions made by two family businesses—one mature, transitioning into its third generation; the other, in its infancy—and the consequences of those decisions on two small towns.

The answer as to why Mr. Walton left Newport came easily, but left nagging questions and many—what ifs.

The simple reason Sam Walton moved his business from Newport to Bentonville was that he lost his lease. In fact, Walton later stated that he felt as if he was run out of town by his landlord. But was he?

The Walton’s story in Newport begins in 1945 when, with the help of a $20,000 loan from his father-in-law, and $5,000 he saved while serving during World War II, Walton opened a Ben Franklin five-and-dime store on Front Street in Newport, at the time the main street for most downtown retail businesses.

Back then, five-and-dime stores were the equivalent of today’s dollar stores. In fact, the Chicago-based franchise is still around today, but in the forties, fifties, and early sixties they seemingly were in every small town in the South.

The town of Newport certainly qualified for Ben Franklin’s small town target market. According to the 1950 Census Report, Newport had a population of around 5,000; its county Jackson, had a population of about 25,000. Newport is located about ninety miles east of Memphis, Tennessee and during the 40s and 50s, was a farming and railroad town.

Despite two things—Newport’s small size and Walton’s admitted lack of retail experience—over the next few years the little store set records for Ben Franklin stores throughout the region. As reported in the Harvard Business Review, July 2001, Walton’s store grew from $72,000 in gross sales to $105,000 in its first year. In the second year, sales increased to $140,000 and a year later to $175,000. By the fifth full year of operations, the little store that could had gross sales of $250,000 for a five year compound annual growth rate of just over 28% making Walton’s five-and-dime the leading variety store in Arkansas. Not bad for a store that Walton later describe as “a dog of a store” at the time he bought it.

Mr. Walton’s approach to his retailing was to keep expenses low, purchase inventory at the lowest price possible, regardless of the source, and pass the savings onto the customers. To Walton, the low cost approach was just good old common sense, but it ran counter to the Chicago-based Ben Franklin franchise model owned by the Butler Brothers. However, the sales numbers Walton was producing kept the corporate office back in Chicago appeased and, I’m sure, intrigued. This approach, to drive value for the customer through low prices, became a foundational component of Walmart’s long term competitive strategy.

In five short years, with the store’s success and his engaging personality, Sam Walton became well known and a person of influence in Newport. He was active in the Rotary Club, his church, and became president of the Chamber of Commerce. As Walton flourished in business and civic activities, his wife Helen was very involved in social, civic, and church life, forming many great friendships that would last a lifetime.

Three of their four children were born in Newport, and the couple considered Newport to be their home. Life was great for the Waltons and they loved their new hometown—but the life they built in Newport was about to change.

Down the street from their Ben Franklin store was Jackson County’s leading retail operation, the PK Holmes Department Store, owned by Mr. P.K. Holmes, Sr., Walton’s landlord.

Mr. Holmes watched with close interest as young Walton’s store continued to grow and prosper. Holmes recognized that Walton’s little store had become a staple in the community with many loyal customers.

As Walton’s landlord, Holmes also knew of the impressive increase in annual sales. The lease agreement between the two called for Holmes to receive 5% of sales in exchange for the lease on the Front Street store.

However, near the time the lease was up for renewal Mr. Holmes’s youngest son Douglas, after serving with distinction during World War II, was nearing graduation from the University of Arkansas.

As the story has been reported, Mr. Holmes wanted Walton’s now profitable little store for his son to run.

The profitability of the store was perhaps part of the motivation, but according to some family members of Mr. Holmes’ familiar with the events, the heart of the decision not to renew the lease had little to do with the profitability of the store.

Mrs. Phyllis Holmes, widow of Douglas P. Holmes, the young man returning home from college to join the family business, when asked if the motivation not to renew the lease was based upon the profitability of the store or commitment to family, she replied, “Family—plain and simple.” According to Mrs. Holmes the decision was about continuing the tradition of the family business.

The family business tradition ran deep and was entering its third generation of operations. The parents of P.K. Holmes and his wife were some of the earliest settlers of Jackson County and both families had long been merchants in Newport and the surrounding area.

Continuing the tradition in the family business, Holmes’s oldest son P.K. Holmes, Jr., had joined the business upon returning from World War II and when not

practicing law, worked in the business of the department store, and also opened a men’s store in Newport.

With his youngest son Douglas, graduating from college at the same time Walton’s lease was up for renewal, it was only natural for Mr. Holmes to look at this as a convergence of opportunities being presented to the Holmes family businesses—to bring Douglas into the business and to expand and diversify their retail operations into variety stores.

A natural evolution of most family businesses is to expand or find positions for family members as they become of age, if they have the desire to enter the family enterprise.

It was later reported that when Walton went to Mr. Holmes’s office to discuss renewing the lease that Walton was told by Mr. Holmes that he would not renew the lease “at any price,” further giving credence to Mrs. Holmes’s assertion that it was not about the money, but about family.

Regardless of the reason, Walton felt blindsided by the turn of events and was by all accounts furious with his landlord. But part of Mr. Walton’s anger was perhaps leveled at himself. In his rush to open the store, Walton had failed to notice that the lease agreement he signed with Mr. Holmes did not have a renewal clause.

Sam and Helen were crushed by the thought of leaving Newport. This small town, with its friendly, down-to earth people, had become home to the young family. Adding to the pain was the fact that, in their minds, they were being forced to leave. Quoted for an article, Mr. Walton recalled the following:

"I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn't believe it was happening to me. It was really like a nightmare. I had built the best variety store in the whole region and worked hard in the community—done everything right—and now I was being kicked out of town. It didn't seem fair. I blamed myself for getting suckered into such an awful lease, and I was furious at the landlord. Helen, just settling in with a brand-new family, was heartsick at the prospect of leaving Newport. But that's what we were going to do."

The search for a new location began soon after. The search itself focused again on small towns—Helen wanted to raise her kids in a small town—and in 1949 Arkansas certainly had a lot of them, most of which however, were off the main highways.

Back then, there were more dirt roads in Arkansas than paved, and the time it took to travel between towns took longer than it does today. I am sure there were some long days that young Sam Walton spent driving the narrowly paved, half paved, and the dusty back roads of Arkansas, looking for a new hometown for his family with a suitable and available location for a new store.

With time to think on a long drive, I believe that Mr. Sam spent much of his time visualizing ways to expand his concept of low overhead, low prices, and exceptional customer service into other communities. He proved the concept in Newport. It is easy to imagine that the thought of a chain of stores crossed his mind as he traveled through the hills and flatlands of Arkansas looking for a new location.

The Waltons ultimately found a location in Bentonville, Arkansas, a sleepy little town in the northwest corner of the state. Bentonville, the county seat of Benton County, was even smaller than Newport with a population of a just under 3,000, and county population of 5,000 as stated in the 1950 Census Report.

Bentonville is in the rolling hills of Northwest Arkansas and in 1950 featured a beautiful downtown with a classic courthouse town-square for shopping, a great location for their new store.

Learning from his experiences in Newport, and armed with an abundance of optimism, and a vision for the future, Walton bought a building and with the help of his father-in-law, negotiated a 99-year lease on the building next door on the town-square in Bentonville where they opened the first Walton’s Five-and-Dime.

Over the next ten years, Walton with the help of his wife Helen, who held a degree in business from the University of Oklahoma, and Sam’s brother James “Bud” Walton, expanded their operations creating a chain of 15 variety stores across Arkansas and Missouri.

With experience and the success the small chain of stores, Walton began to think beyond the small variety stores. If his formula worked in small towns for variety stores, why couldn’t it work for larger stores carrying essentially all the daily needs of a family? With this idea, the first Walmart was opened in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas, a short drive and a few minutes from Bentonville.

Over the course of forty years, from 1945 until 1985, Sam Walton went from opening a five-and-dime store in the small farming community of Newport, to becoming the largest retailer in the world and being named the World’s Richest Man by Forbes Magazine from 1982 to 1988.

Today, according to the Walmart website, the company employs 2.3 million associates around the world. For the fiscal year ending January 31, 2016 Walmart’s total revenue was $482.1 billion and the company returned $10.4 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchase.

What has become of the sleepy little town of Bentonville and the surrounding area, now the center of the global operations of Walmart?

Bentonville has grown in population from 2,942 in 1950 to around 45,000 according to the US Census Bureau in July 2015. The surrounding area of Benton County has grown from 5,000 when the Walton family first moved there to just over 249,000. Benton County is currently listed as #52 among the 100 fastest growing counties in America, and has a median household income of $56,325.

Newport is still a town full of warm and welcoming people—however the years have not been good for the town’s growth. Today, Newport has a population of around 7,700, and the county population has dropped from 25,000 when the young Walton family first moved to the area to a just over 17,000 as reported in the 2015 Census Report. The median household income in Jackson County is listed in the report as $31,517.

The comparisons and contrast in the economic growth and population of the two communities and the incredible success of Walmart and the Walton family raises the question, what would have happened to Newport if Mr. Holmes had renewed the lease? Would it now be the headquarters for Walmart? Maybe, maybe not.

There are other factors that need to be considered regarding the lease controversy recently brought up in a conversation with Price Holmes, the grandson of P.K. Holmes, Sr.

“Sam Walton chose to leave Newport, he didn’t lose the Ben Franklin franchise for the area, he simply lost his lease. It wasn’t that he didn’t have options, he could have rented, bought or built another building and reopened his store. No one forced him to leave town, he made that decision.”

But there are so many other what if scenarios for consideration:

What if—As Price Holmes suggests, Walton had built a new store down the street and remained in Newport? Would he have gone on to establish Walmart?

What if—Mr. Sam had not had the motivation, as painful as it was, of “being run out of town” by Mr. Holmes, would he have been as driven?

What if—Mr. Holmes had intentionally left a renewal clause out of the lease, realizing that in a few years his youngest son would be coming home from college and this site would be perfect to expand the family retail operations and saw a young, and by his own admission, naïve Sam Walton as a tenant only until his son Douglas graduated from college?

What if—the circumstances had been reversed and Sam Walton would have been the landlord with a son or daughter returning home wanting to go into the family business, would he have made the same decision?

Regardless of how many different scenarios you come up with, or your opinion of the lost lease, the outcome remains the same. The choices made and actions taken by Mr. Holmes and Mr. Walton, carried with them significant consequences, however unintended, for two small towns in Arkansas, Bentonville and Newport.