Health & Wellness

The World’s First Ironman Winner Walks Among Us

After a full day at work, and after the dinner table is cleared, most people put their feet up. Gordon Haller puts his into running shoes. Not many athletes work out at 10 p.m., but Gordon isn’t like everybody else. He’s an Ironman, and he has been since he won the first competition in Hawaii in 1978.

Not only did Gordon win; he also helped create the event. He was running the Honolulu Marathon in 1977 and realized his body hadn’t fully recovered from a recent race, so he stopped running where a friend happened to be watching. That friend knew of Gordon’s typical three-part workout routine, and he told him about plans for a new sporting event.

“He said there was a race invented for me with swimming, biking and running. Then I saw a notice in the paper about a meeting to talk about the race. I joined the planning team, and we took the Waikiki Roughwater Swim, the Sea Spree Festival bike race and the Honolulu Marathon and put them together,” Gordon said. The Ironman was born.

“I’ve always lived an Ironman lifestyle,” Gordon explained. He’s kept a training log since 1969 and four decades later, he still works out an average of 1.5 hours a day.

“At first, my training log was a tool to help me be faster and healthier, but it evolved to become a journal. It’s satisfying to record each workout, and it helps me remember where I was when significant things happened in my life,” Gordon said, adding that a training log can help track what you eat, how much you sleep, your heart rate, weight, illnesses, body fat, blood pressure and more.

As a result of his lifelong focus on fitness, Gordon feels he has more energy and endurance than most people, which he says helps him at work. He balances his athletic pursuits with his full-time job as a programmer analyst at the Walmart corporate office in Bentonville, Arkansas.

“I design my workouts to maximize my performance, and I plan my tasks to do the same for my work,” Gordon said. “When I start on something, I see it to the finish.” That explains why he’s still participating in marathons and Ironman events more than 37 years after he earned the first Ironman title. In fact, he often does two Ironman competitions a year, inspiring others with his seemingly endless stamina.

“I consider marathons a time to do soul searching. I know what I’m made of and I just keep going. If you think you might not make it, you might not,” Gordon said. “It is interesting to me to see how I’ll cope with whatever comes up. We can have high winds, rain, humidity, heat, tacks on the road, hills, rough or cold water. It’s fun to meet other competitors and hear their stories. It’s just an amazing experience every time I do it.”


Recently featured in Sports Illustrated, Gordon represents athleticism at its finest. He discovered his love of running in the first grade and has been setting the pace ever since. 

“Our teacher didn’t hear the recess bell, and none of us was brave enough to tell her. She let us run around the school one lap, so we made a race of it and I was second. My friend beat me, and that got my competitive juices up,” Gordon recalled. He fully realized his abilities six years later.

“One day in seventh-grade PE, we had to run three laps for leaving towels out in the locker room. My friend ran ahead, but after a lap, I decided he wouldn’t finish first and I just edged him at the finish line. I joined the track team and discovered I could run longer than everyone else, even if I couldn’t run faster in the sprints,” Gordon said.

That competitive spirit runs in Gordon’s family, along with a shared passion for health. He met his wife, Beth, through running and they work out often together. She’s a triathlete, herself. Gordon says his son Ryan “rides his bike everywhere” and his daughter, Jessica, manages a sporting goods store and loves outdoor activities. Gordon’s older daughter, Kristen, is a yoga instructor. Clearly, Gordon has a way of positively influencing those around him – including his fellow Walmart associates.

“I encourage them to do triathlons, run races, just get out and do something,” Gordon said, adding that he shuns the elevator at work and coaxes others to do the same.

“I rode it today for the first time in about five years and only because I was with a group of people,” he said. 

Gordon’s been taking the stairs to his office at Walmart for eight years, and he says he still enjoys the challenge of learning new technology through his work. The love of a challenge appears to run in his veins, which you might expect from someone best known as the world’s first Ironman. 

The Ironman World Championship will take place in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on Oct. 10. Read more about Gordon Haller in these recent articles from Sports Illustrated and ESPN.

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Community

How You Can Take Action in the Fight Against Hunger

Big numbers aren’t always easy to grasp, but I have one for you – 42 million. That’s how many Americans struggle with hunger, according to the USDA. To break it down a little more, that’s one in eight of us.

For the next few weeks, there’s an easy way to join the fight against hunger. By making a purchase at your local Walmart store, using your social media channels or donating at the register, you can support Walmart’s “Fight Hunger. Spark Change.” campaign and help Feeding America secure 100 million meals on behalf of member food banks.

A lot of our associates are taking it a step further by volunteering with their local food banks, like Mario Young, a department manager at one of our Charlotte, North Carolina stores.

“I've been volunteering in the Charlotte community for more than six years and with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina for over a year,” Mario said. “I love helping with different projects and especially with helping other people in the community. Through Walmart I have been able to reach more members of the community in need and am always one of the first people to volunteer for events like the one today."

Only a few hours from Charlotte, in Charleston, South Carolina, even more of our associates are giving back. Along with the Lowcountry Food Bank, our associates recently helped 300 Greeleyville Elementary students and their parents have an amazing Easter. What started off with a massive egg hunt ended with the parents being able to stock up on fresh produce – 15,000 pounds of it to be exact – donated by Walmart and distributed by our associates.

As a grocer serving millions of customers in America each week, Walmart has been working to positively impact the issue of hunger in the U.S. for many years. By collaborating with our customers, Discover card and five of the nation’s leading food companies – Campbell Soup Company, General Mills, Kellogg Company, The Kraft Heinz Company and PepsiCo – we hope to make a real difference for families who are struggling with hunger.

From April 17 – May 15, you can join the efforts in three easy ways.

Purchase Participating Products: For every purchase of specially marked products both in-store and online, the manufacturer will donate enough to help you secure one meal on behalf of Feeding America member food banks. For every Discover card transaction made in-store and online, Discover will donate the equivalent of one meal, up to $1 million.

Donate at the Register: You can make a donation to Feeding America member food banks at the checkout in any Walmart store.

Online Act of Support: We have already met our online act of support goal of donating up to $1.5 million to Feeding America on behalf of member food banks. You can still show your support by continuing to use #FightHunger on your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and like or share Walmart provided content. You can also visit Walmart.com/FightHunger to show your support through a click.


To participate or learn more, visit Walmart.com/FightHunger.

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Health & Wellness

A New Way of Working Together for Dietary Supplement Safety

Whether it’s a vitamin or mineral, tablet or even energy bar, the majority of adults in the U.S. take one or more dietary supplements either every day or occasionally.

These supplements provide extra nutrients when one’s diet is lacking or when certain health conditions cause the development of a deficiency in vitamins, minerals, or other dietary substances.

From herbals and botanicals to amino acids, probiotics, enzymes, and others, there are a wide variety of supplements available today that allow consumers to play a more active role in their health and nutrition.

But the rapid growth and expansion of products in the marketplace has called into question their quality and safety. In addition, the differing quality seals and verification marks on product labels can lead to confusion. That’s why we are excited to announce that Walmart is working, in collaboration with the Natural Products Association, GNC and other leading retailers, to create the Supplement Safety & Compliance Initiative (SSCI).

What is the Supplement Safety & Compliance Initiative?

SSCI brings some of the largest retailers, raw material manufacturers and suppliers, dietary supplement manufacturers and other stakeholders together to assist in strengthening safeguards and helping to ensure regulatory compliance from harvest to retailer shelf.


Why is SSCI important to Walmart?

Manufacturing practices vary widely across the dietary supplement industry. Although all of our private label – aka store brand – suppliers must have a third-party audit and certification, SSCI will ensure they meet our stringent expectations and a recognized high standard through the supply chain.

The goal of SSCI is to recognize and help ensure various safety and manufacturing standards provide greater assurance throughout the supply chain. Agreeing upon common standards is a critical piece in the initiative and a process that is proven to be effective with enhancing consumer safety.

SSCI is a bold step forward for the dietary supplement industry. We look forward to having additional retailers and others join this effort to support the enhancement of the authenticity and safety of dietary supplements and ultimately improve the health and nutrition of consumers everywhere.

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Business

Best Flatbread 4Evr: Meet the Crotilla, Your Bakery BFF

Crotilla. Crow-TEE-ah.

“Crow” like the bird. “Tea” like the hot beverage. “Uh” like when your kids ask you what’s for dinner and you have no idea.

Crotilla. What on earth is a Crotilla? I’m about to tell you.

The Crotilla is a hybrid bakery item exclusive to Walmart. A combination of a croissant and tortilla, this flatbread can be used for everything from breakfast sandwiches to Indian food. I wanted to know what goes into arranging a food marriage, so I talked to Bradlee Underwood, senior buyer for Walmart Bakery, to get the back story.

Elizabeth: So, let’s talk about the birth of a Crotilla. How did you come up with this new bakery item?

Bradlee: We wanted to invent something innovative and exclusive to Walmart. We worked with our supplier, Aryzta, to create a mash-up of two products the customer already understands, the croissant and the tortilla, similar to the Cronut sensation a few years back. Also, we know customers, especially millennial customers, are hungry for new food trends and cool ways to experience food, and we want to be a destination for that.

E: Because the item was exclusive to Walmart, and brand-new, was there extra pressure to get it right?

B: Because it would be our customers’ first encounter with the Crotilla, we wanted all aspects of the product to be perfect. That meant everything from making the shape correct – the perfect size to fit in a toaster – to ensuring the Crotilla had enough layers. One thing we are especially proud of is the Crotilla’s high quality: It’s made with all butter, and baked fresh in our bakery every day.

E: What about the Crotilla is going to pique the curiosity of, say, a young professional?

B: We’ve been talking a lot about how to help busy customers save not only money but also time. Our millennial customers will appreciate the convenience factor – Crotillas are portable and perfect for a meal or a snack on the go.

E: I know as a mom shopping for my family, I have certain “go-to” foods I buy every week that I am confident my kids will like. What is going to make customers switch up their mealtime routines with a Crotilla?

B: In the same way Walmart is looking to surprise and delight customers, I think parents want to surprise and delight their families. The versatility of the product is really going to impress our customers. You can add Nutella and bananas for breakfast, or dress up a burger for lunch, or even make mini pizzas in the toaster oven for a fun dinner one night. And since Crotillas are easy and not messy, kids can pitch in help make dinner, too.

So, what goes into a Crotilla? Anything you want!

The Crotilla is available in 832 Walmart stores nationwide. Look for it in the fresh bakery department.

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Business

Read Walmart CEO Doug McMillon’s 2017 Letter to Shareholders

The following letter from Walmart CEO Doug McMillon was taken from our 2017 Annual Report, which was released today. Read the report.

Dear shareholders, associates and customers:

As I sit down to write this year’s letter, I’m feeling proud of the progress we’re making at Walmart and, most specifically, the passion and hard work exhibited by our associates. I’m encouraged by the way we’re moving with greater speed to better serve customers.

Our business is getting stronger. In the U.S., we’ve delivered positive comp store sales for ten consecutive quarters and we’re hearing from our customers that their experience continues to improve. Sam’s Club comp sales improved throughout the year and members are increasingly using our digital tools like Scan & Go and Club Pickup. Outside the U.S., 10 of our 11 markets posted positive comp sales this past year. Across our business segments, e-commerce growth is accelerating. Our strategy to serve customers through e-commerce and our stores in a seamless way is gaining traction. The momentum we’re seeing is real and I’m excited about what the future holds.

We’re clearly living in a time of transformative change. The world is moving faster and the magnitude of the changes, and their influence on business, seem larger than I can remember. In retail, the things made possible by technology are fundamentally transforming this industry. These changes are creating compelling ways for customers to save time and gain easy access to products and services they didn’t have before. At Walmart, we’re harnessing the power of technology and the investments in our associates to create new ways of serving customers and provide associates with more opportunities to grow their careers.

We’ve been preparing ourselves to take advantage of the opportunities presented and we have four objectives that we’re focused on this year. First, we want to make every day easier for busy families. Customers are time-crunched, so we want their shopping experience with us to be fast and easy — truly seamless — in all the ways they want to shop: in stores, on their mobile device, or through pickup and delivery. I’m excited by many of our recent initiatives — like the free 2-day shipping offer with a $35 minimum order from Walmart.com, the expansion of online grocery around the world, and Sam’s Club’s launch of Scan & Go across the U.S. — because of the convenience these initiatives provide. The strategic acquisitions of Jet, ShoeBuy, Moosejaw and ModCloth, as well as the alliance with JD.com in China, provide customers with a broader assortment as well as more ways to save time and money. It’s truly been a significant year of progress on this front.

Our second key objective is to change the way we work. We’re focused on becoming more of a digital enterprise. We’re working to increase productivity with more efficient internal processes and creating more real-time information at our fingertips, supported by more advanced analytics. We’re providing in-store associates with the tools they need, like apps and tablets, to make it easier to gain insight into our performance. Our goal is to increase our speed, effectiveness for customers and productivity throughout the business. We’re also working to strengthen the performance mindset of our culture and fight bureaucracy that can plague large companies. A strong and effective culture is foundational to success and we’re shaping ours to drive performance and create even more opportunity for our diverse group of associates in an inclusive work environment.

Third, we will deliver results and operate with discipline. We were founded on an everyday low-cost mentality but we think we have opportunities to work in new ways and find a path to a lower cost base. This is vital for our future. We’ll be smart with how we allocate capital to drive long-term value for our shareholders. We’re after efficient growth. We will focus on growing more through e-commerce and comp sales in our current store fleet and rely less on new store growth in the U.S. We’ll also continually look at our portfolio to make sure we’re positioned to win. We’ll invest in our core business with store remodels, technology and customer initiatives like online grocery and pickup, while at the same time being open to divest non-core assets if it’s in our best interest.

The fourth objective is to be the most trusted retailer. During this time of change, customers are watching the companies they spend their time and money with more closely than ever. The way we earn their trust is through our associates doing the right thing every day — being creative, curious, ethical, service oriented and embodying our purpose of making lives better for others. If everyone could see inside the company I’ve come to love, they would feel even better about the company.

We’re doing things people would expect from Walmart: focusing on lowering prices — not by cutting corners, but by being better at delivering great items more efficiently than our competitors; and constantly innovating to save customers time as well as money. We’re also doing things that might surprise some people. We’ve made significant investments in our associates, providing the career opportunities they deserve and skills necessary to be successful at Walmart or wherever their career takes them. Over the last decade, we’ve become one of the most environmentally sustainable retailers (and companies) in the world and we’re raising the bar even higher. We’re investing in making our supply chain safer and more transparent so customers can be confident that the products they purchase are sourced the right way. And, we have embraced the journey towards the concept of “shared value” as espoused by Dr. Michael Porter of Harvard Business School, which challenges us to create a business model that is not just good for shareholders but better for everyone: customers, associates, suppliers, communities and society in general.

We’ve worked hard over the years to earn the trust of those we serve and do business with around the world. By no means am I saying Walmart is perfect. We’ll make honest mistakes along the way, but we won’t let up until we get it right. Our purpose is simple: we save people money so they can live better. We take both aspects of our purpose seriously.

We want to thank you for believing in us…for investing in our future. We are a company of the future. As I stated earlier, we’re operating from a strong foundation built by those before us and taking action aimed at strengthening our business this year and beyond. We’ll continue to strengthen our stores around the world, we’ll continue to build our e-commerce and digital capabilities, and we’ll put them together in a way that saves customers time and money. And as they choose to shop with us, we’ll be doing things behind the scenes to create shared value for all so they are confident that their trust in us is well-placed.

Honored to serve,


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