Dr. Mary Ann Campbell, CFP® = "Dr. MAC"

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Walmart shareholder meeting worth the early rise

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Ever thought about attending a shareholder meeting of a publicly held corporation?  Ever wondered which ones would be worth the time and effort to attend?  Randy Cepuch, in his book, A Weekend with Warren Buffett, shares insights into his fun adventures of attending several shareholder meetings. Randy rates the meetings according to educational value, entertainment value, freebies given away and food and drink provided.

I personally had five shareholder meetings on my bucket list to attend, and now I’m down to three.   My husband, Guy, and I enjoyed our weekend with Warren Buffett by attended the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in Omaha a few years ago.  It was truly a happening.   Warren Buffett and Charley Monger were hilarious, educational, and held court most of the day.  We received employee discounts at their furniture and jewelry stores.   We ate products from Dairy Queen, See’s Candies, and drank Coca Cola.  All are companies held within the holding company of Berkshire Hathaway.  The freebies were many and the experience grand.

My second shareholder meeting was this month in Fayetteville, Arkansas.   I attended the Walmart shareholder meeting on June 7th.  You may view a replay of the meeting and outstanding entertainment online.  My natural interest is in what Walmart is currently providing their customers in the way of financial services, such as the Bluebird prepaid card with the lowest fees available.

In full disclosure, I knew Mr. Sam (Walton.) He was the embodiment of a smart, good person with an incredible work ethic.  He could read people and lived by his trust but verify rule.  I had contracts with what was then Worthen Bank in Little Rock.  Our department was hired to present Money Magic seminars to the wives of Walmart associates.   There were five of us, and we presented 17 sessions to hundreds of Walmart women.  Mr. Sam and David Glass each came to different sessions and sat in among the women to make sure we were on target with the information and motivation we were offering.  Sam Walton told me the most frequent question he heard from his managers was “Where can I get help with my finances?”    After working hard for a couple years and proving their work ethic and leadership ability, many Walmart employees were promoted to store manager and all of a sudden had more money than they’d ever seen before.

Walmart’s shareholder meeting did not disappoint.  It starts promptly at 7:00 a.m. as a spectacle of people, music, color, and excitement.  I thought I was at a production of The Lion King in New York when the oversized, animated animals and people began to stroll through the aisles.  Rob Walton reminded me of a very smooth version of Mr. Sam.   Issues during the business portion were handled with efficiency and grace.  Then, the entertainment by an exciting celebrity line up began.

Walmart does not pay appearance fees to their celebrity guests.  The record and movie companies handle those expenses.  Just think about what an appearance can mean to sales by gaining the interest and support of Walmart associates and shareholders.  It’s a marketing tool that works for everyone.  Hugh Jackman was host for the morning.  Hugh introduced Tom Cruise, who spoke on the issue of improving women’s lives.  Musical guests included John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, and Jennifer Hudson.    The three hours whizzed by and I couldn’t believe it was 11:00 a.m. and the party was over so quickly.

If you do want to attend various shareholder meetings, check out the company website to see when and where their meetings are held.  If you don’t find their requirements to attend detailed on their website, contact their shareholder relations department.  You’ll usually need to own at least one share of their stock, either through a direct Dividend Reinvestment Program (DRIP), if available, or by purchasing stock though a broker.

So what are the other three meetings on my list?  You can tell we have grandchildren, because they include Hershey, Disney, and Google. What’s on your list?  I’d appreciate hearing from you as to what and why in your future and any past shareholder meeting experiences.

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