Image for Still ‘Kicking Up Dust’ and Putting Others First

Bernie Marcus

Still ‘Kicking Up Dust’ and Putting Others First

To celebrate Bernie’s new book, we invite Home Depot associates past and present to put their questions to the business icon and extraordinary philanthropist.

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In the worlds of business and giving, there is no better source of inspiration than our guest this month.

Bernie Marcus - who co-founded retail giant The Home Depot - has given his knowledge, time, money, and energy for more than four decades, transforming literally millions of lives along the way.

At The Home Depot, Bernie used store floors as a university, conveying priceless lessons about leadership and life to all willing to listen.

And in this episode, Bernie fields questions directly from those people whose lives he impacted.

Guest interviewers include current and former Home Depot CEOs Ted Decker and Craig Menear, along with other associates who spent years working alongside Bernie.

We'll talk about work, and how to do it well.

We'll talk about giving, and how to do it effectively. And we'll capture reflections from Bernie about his life and legacy.

He's donated more than $2 billion, pioneering new models for philanthropy along the way.

Bernie's donations have created the Georgia Aquarium, the Marcus Autism Center (now part of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta), the Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center and the Marcus Trauma Center at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

Bernie is also an advocate for our veterans, helping to launch the Avalon Network to support veterans' health.

Bernie has also been instrumental in expanding Atlanta's Shepherd Center, which treats veterans and civilians with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.

In October, we offered listeners a chance to win copies of Bernie's new book, Kick Up Some Dust: Lessons In Thinking Big, Giving Back, and Doing It Yourself.

In just a few hours, we had received requests for more than 100 copies — which is truly a testament to Bernie's enduring influence and reach.

I encourage anyone who strives to be generous or has an entrepreneurial spirit to listen to this episode and join me in celebrating one of the most remarkable people of our time.

  • Bernie's greatest passion today (2:39)
  • The $40 million mission that's "the biggest thing [Bernie] ever tackled" (5:26)
  • Leadership advice that made a lasting impact on someone's life (7:27)
  • The Home Depot vs. college has a surprising winner (10:13)
  • Why leading by example is the only option (14:08)
  • How Bernie organized his time differently than other CEOs (16:36)
  • What Bernie is the most proud of (26:05)
  • A heartfelt message from a Home Depot associate (38:31)

FRANK BLAKE: Welcome everyone to Crazy Good Turns. This is the podcast that recognizes and celebrates people who do great things for others. I'm your host, Frank Blake, and today we have a very, very special guest.

Someone who is truly an outstanding entrepreneur and philanthropist and has touched the lives of truly millions and millions of people.

Bernie Marcus, founder of the Home Depot, and also author of a new book called Kick Up Some Dust: Lessons In Thinking Big, Giving Back, and Doing It Yourself.

As listeners to the podcast know, we've given away over a hundred copies of Bernie's book. We're going to be giving away more copies.

The first hundred that we gave away went out in a matter of hours, and we asked listeners to pre-record questions or comments for Bernie.

We've got a great group here. If we don't get to everyone, I apologize in advance.. We're going to start with a question from the current CEO of Home Depot, Ted Decker.

TED DECKER: Hi, Bernie. This is Ted Decker. I couldn't be happier helping run the incredible company you founded, nurtured, and grew.

We have 500,000 associates at the Home Depot today, and you have positively impacted the lives of millions of associates and tens of millions of customers over the years, and we all can't thank you enough.

One of the values you taught us was the importance of giving back in your philanthropy is legendary. Thank you for the aquarium, Grady, the Marcus Autism Center, Shepherd and Avalon, among so many other contributions.

A question for you, Bernie. What are your strongest passions today and what is your philanthropy focused on today? Thank you.

BERNIE MARCUS: All right. Ted, great talking to you.

I think my greatest passion is, number one, staying alive. I'm 93. That's no small feat.

Keeping the reaper away from the door is a tough job, as you get older and it gets older, it gets harder, but I'm going to continue doing it.

I think that all of the things that I've done the last 20 years since I left the Home Depot have put me into the position of trying to do even more.

We did some outstanding things, as you mentioned, like the Marcus Autism Center, the Stroke Center at Grady, Shepherd Center.

They're all breakthroughs in some way or other, but out of it, I know that we saved thousands of lives. Who knows how many, I don't know.

We changed the lives of thousands of people. There are some other issues out there that are just as severe and difficult.

One of them that we're tackling now is traumatic brain injury. If you all watch that game with Miami, remember where Tua got knocked out on a field?

Well, he had traumatic brain injury, and they don't talk about it much, but once you have it, it doesn't go away. It stays with you.

You're dizzy. You don't sleep. You have balance problems. You don't function well. You can't stand noise. Imagine being in a football stadium with the noise. A light bothers you.

Well, veterans that came back from the war, these young men and women that put their lives in line, were exposed to those kind of things on a daily basis.

When they came back, there was no treatment for them. Nobody had a treatment for them.

While we were investigating this thing, we found out that no hospital has a treatment for traumatic brain injury, which is the most amazing thing I've ever...

In other words, if you have cancer in a pinky, there are 75 specialists who could take care of it, but if you have a traumatic brain injury through a car crash or something really dramatic like that, there's no place to go.

We set this unit up, we have the head of our medical foundation working on it. We have great people, and we now have come up with an actual strategy of dealing with this, where people can, in fact, find solace where it could change their lives.

We know we have the data that proves it, that almost a 90% of the time we could send them back to regular life where they could function, be family people, earn a living, be around their families, be around their mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers.

This goes to medical and military, and it goes to civilian. It's a big deal. I would say, Frank, you know, you're involved with this.

It's probably the biggest thing we ever tackled because there is no protocol in the United States right now or the world for traumatic brain injury and we are attacking it.

If we can do this and if we can change the dynamics, we will change the lives of millions of people. This is the next big thing that we're working on, among others.

FRANK BLAKE: Wow, that is a great question from Ted and a phenomenal answer.

I've got another question teed up here from a longtime Home Depot associate, and it's both a question and a long comment, and we thought, Brian and I thought about, "Do we edit these questions down?"

And we thought, "Nope. We're going to give you the whole comment plus the question."

CRYSTAL HANLON: Hi Bernie. This is Crystal Hanlon. We first met over 37 years ago on a store walk in Houston, Texas.

I remember it like it was yesterday because I was so amazed at your passion and care for our people and love for our Depot and our customers.

On that walk, I asked you about leadership and how to be the best.

I remember you told me a great piece of advice.

You said, "Crystal, surround yourself with people better than you. Take care of your people and they will take care of the customer and everything else will take care of itself."

I've got to tell you, Bernie, I have lived by this lesson throughout my 37 years here with our Depot, and I've been blessed beyond measure.

I get to ask you a question. Bernie, you have had an amazing career and done so many awesome things in this life, giving back and making a difference.

If I asked you today what was your greatest success that has given you the most reward, what would that be and why?

Bernie, words can never convey my thanks to you and all you have done to make a difference in my life and the lives of the many people in our Depot.

You have given us an opportunity of a lifetime and forever changed our lives. We love you, Bernie.

BERNIE MARCUS: Well, Crystal, I love you too. You did exactly what I said.

You surrounded yourself with great people.

I would say the greatest accomplishment that I've done in my life is to be able to advise people like you how to better yourself and how to make yourself a better person and how to be able to run a business intelligently, how to work with people, how to grow people, how to find talent, and how to move that talent along to the next level.

You've learned those lessons and in 37 years, you've turned out to be a superstar at Home Depot, and God bless you. Keep going. You're terrific.

FRANK BLAKE: That is exactly right, Bernie. She is a superstar and she does follow your advice. She's great. She's just terrific.

We've got another one. This is, again, more of a comment than a question, but it's from somebody I know you'll recognize long, long time.

One of the early associates at Home Depot.

TOM TAYLOR: Hey Bernie. This is Tom Taylor. I started out as a part-time associate in the Home Depot back when I was in high school, which is too long ago to remember. It was my first real job.

I spent 24 years with the company, held really every operating position in the company.

I moved eight times, eventually ran all the stores in the U.S. and spent my last three years with the company as the head merchant.

Home Depot really has taught me everything about how to run a business, about how to treat people, and how to be a merchant first.

I just wanted to share a quick story. I don't know if you remember, I'm sure you don't, but you walked my department in the 1980s when I was in high school.

I was in the middle of a big decision on whether or not I was going to go to college.

At that time, you told me that I'd be crazy to go to college, that Home Depot would teach me more than I could learn anywhere that I went, and I could make more money at Home Depot than any degree that I could earn would make me and both proved to be true.

I just can't thank you enough for creating a company where really anyone can be anything.

I wake up every day just in shock of what I've been able to achieve because of the Home Depot and because of your guidance, your leadership, and your friendship.

Thank you for everything that you've done for me and my family.

BERNIE MARCUS: Well, and now you don't have to worry about the loan forgiveness.

FRANK BLAKE: That's great.

BERNIE MARCUS: Yeah. You had this stuff, Tom. Tom, you could see it in you. It was inside of you.

I knew you were a great merchant. I knew you were a great leader of people.

You could see it, and going to Harvard Business School would've been a total waste of time. Trust me.

It would've been absolutely throwing away money and throwing away years of your life.

You could never have learned anything at Harvard that you learned at Home Depot and look at you today. You're a very successful businessman.

You're the epitome of a really good businessman that runs a smart, intelligent business. You give back to the community.

You followed all the precepts that we taught you at Home Depot. I'm sorry you left Home Depot. Believe me, you're one of the guys I lost, and you are the biggest loss, I think, ever.

Somewhere, some way, you come back together. I'm happy that you remember all these stories.

Recently when we had lunch, we talked about it. Isn't it amazing, Tom, that how many people at Home Depot, if you walk a store - Frank, you and I talked about it.

You walk a store that probably I would say 80% of the people are not college graduates. High school graduates, and believe me, they're making more than some PhDs that were out there.

Many of them are multimillionaires, many of them bought their houses, paid off their family's houses, sent their kids to school, have had a successful career.

It could only happen at a place like Home Depot, and you were one of the ones that help us started, and for that, I will always remember you.

I owe a debt of gratitude to you.

FRANK BLAKE: For our listeners who might not know, Tom is the CEO of Floor and Decor. He's been hugely successful in his own right.

BERNIE MARCUS: Yeah. A competitor.

FRANK BLAKE: Well, a competitor.

BERNIE MARCUS: One of the few I talk to.

FRANK BLAKE: As you said...

We were sorry that he ever left Home Depot, but he is somebody who's a great example of the American dream every single day being played out on the floors of Home Depot.

We've got another. One of the things I love about your book is that it's full of great advice.

Here's another one that is from a longtime tenured associate, just on what he learned from working with you at Depot.

BOB PENN: Hi Bernie. This is Bob Penn and I'm a 40-year tenured associate and I met you multiple times early in my career.

I finally remember one time back in 1984, I was a department manager of paint on our Hollywood, Florida, store with eight stores only for the company then, you were in the store quite often.

On this particular day, multiple people called out sick. I was the only person working in paint that day.

I was running around, I looked up and you were right there with me helping customers.

This wasn't just a few minutes either. You spent the entire day working side by side with me, which is an example that I try to live up to this day.

Thank you for leading by example.

FRANK BLAKE: I think that's such a great story because you do. I've walked a lot of stories with you and you set that example at every store a lot in terms of helping.

BERNIE MARCUS: I hope, Frank, I didn't screw up the pace.

FRANK BLAKE: You'll get a lot of returns after that.

BERNIE MARCUS: Yeah. Yeah. I'm sorry, but I hope the customers were happy.

But that's the whole thing.

Frank, when you walk the store, I walk the store, Arthur walks the store, Pat Farrah, our key was always take care of that customer, don't sit around and talk to each other.

If a customer's out there and needs help, you go and you help them.

It was to set an example and I've done that multiple times.

Not always successful because I don't have the skills in the stores that you people have, but I do my best, and at least I smile a lot and treat the customer well.

No customers ever said to me, "You don't know what the hell you're doing." So I came out okay.

But that's the whole spirit of the Home Depot is to be there for the customer, and I'm glad you learned that lesson.

I congratulate you on all the years that you've been with Home Depot.

FRANK BLAKE: Bernie, the next question comes from someone I've gotten to know over the last few years.

He runs a public company, REIT, that focuses on real estate for retail, and he's a real student of leadership.

He sends me books on interesting leaders and the like.

He actually listens to this podcast and his name is Bill Lenehan, and he sent in this question.

BILL LENEHAN: Bernie, how have you organized your time in a way that is exceptional?

For example, for Frank, his time writing thank-you notes to team members is out of the ordinary. Thank you. Bill Lenehan.

BERNIE MARCUS: I think that my one priority, is it good for business or not?

I will tell you... Frank, I'll get a little off the side here.

We have a lot of demands on us, CEOs, people that operate businesses.

People want us involved in different charities. They want us to make speeches. They want us to go to conventions and do things like that.

My bottom line was, number one, is this good for Home Depot? Does this help Home Depot? If it didn't help Home Depot, I didn't do it.

I never went on these junkets or conventions or made speeches where you get up and you pontificate how great your company is.

That bullshit never worked with me. I just would say the bottom line, what does this do for Home Depot? Does it create value? If it creates value, I'll do it.

If it doesn't create value, I will not do it.

In many cases, I was a pariah. People wouldn't even ask me after a while.

In fact, people would say to me, "Don't ask him. He's a waste of time." Which was good. That was good.

FRANK BLAKE: That's a great answer. That's a great answer, and probably one that other CEOs and leaders could learn from.

Our next question is from someone you know very, very well, Bernie.

The prior CEO of Home Depot, just before Ted, Craig Menear, who did such a brilliant job over the eight years leading Home Depot.

CRAIG MENEAR: Hi Bernie, it's Craig Menear.

Bernie, I first met you 25 years ago as a young merchant on one of your famous Bernie roadshows.

I was so impressed with your focus on our culture and urgency around our customers and associates.

Thank you for creating such a wonderful, amazing company with an incredible culture that I had the privilege to work for all these years.

Bernie, giving back as one of our core values, and you've done so much. I know you've been focused on veterans.

What are you most excited about with your philanthropic work in the veteran's space?

BERNIE MARCUS: Well, think about this, Craig.

I know Home Depot's very much involved with the veteran's area.

You've done so much with veteran housing, trying to find jobs, but when you have a veteran that's non functioning, that can't keep a job, can't keep his family, is not able to play with his children, not able to be out in society, that's tragic.

This is something that I feel very, very strongly about, and this is what I'm going to spend the rest of my life doing.

I hope this is the legacy that I could leave, along with the foundation, and everybody on my foundation is working toward this, including Frank Blake, who is the vice chair.

This is a goal that if we can accomplish it, we will change the lives of millions of people.

FRANK BLAKE: Well, and again, I hope everybody does take a chance to read Bernie's book because what you're doing is so extraordinary for the veterans across many other areas where you've also made amazing contributions.

That leads to the next question, which is from John Haupert, who's the CEO of Grady, and you transformed that institution and areas of healthcare where they operate.

JOHN HAUPERT: Hey Bernie, this is John Haupert, President and CEO of Grady Health System.

I so value the interactions I have had the privilege of sharing with you.

I really cherish the discussion Pete Correll and I had with you about what is working and what is not working in the U.S. healthcare system.

As always, your insights were right on target. Your generous gifts to Grady established trailblazing research into thrombolytic stroke treatment resulting in a global shift in how these types of strokes are managed.

As a result, multitudes of patients worldwide have walked away from a stroke fully restored to their original health status.

hose patients and all of us at Grady are forever grateful to you for advancing this important life saving treatment.

My question for you is this, what is your greatest source of pride or satisfaction from your donations to Grady?

Again, thank you for your ongoing support of Grady and for your steadfast support of science that improves the human condition.

BERNIE MARCUS: Well, I think, John, one of the things we ought to think about is what's happening right now with the closing down of the... What is the hospital, Frank?

FRANK BLAKE: Atlanta Medical Center.

BERNIE MARCUS: What age? That's a tsunami that's going to hit Grady.

Isn't it wise that we had increased the trauma center, the Marcus Trauma Center, the emergency room well before this?

If that hadn't happened, think about what would've happened. Couldn't have handled it.

The key here, John, is not only to prepare for today, but prepare for eventually something that might happen that you should be prepared for.

I think that one of the things that we talked about was that made this a very effective, efficient operation where we could double the amount of people we're going to take care of.

You're going to have to do it now. I understand you're doing a great job already.

I understand they're piling in now, but I think that from what I've heard, you've already hired a lot of the doctors and nurses from that organization and brought them over and you continue to do a good job.

The other thing is we learn from our friend that died, who was the chairman before you, Frank, Pete Correll, that you plan for the future.

I think Pete was one of the great planners and he put together a good board. If you have a good board and you have a great executive team, you can accomplish a hell of a lot.

Nobody does it by themselves. Nobody is by himself.

Home Depot wasn't me, it wasn't Arthur, it wasn't Pat Farrah, it wasn't Ron Brill.

It was a combination of all of us together, working together as a team, and I think that you did that at Grady.

God knows, if it wasn't for Grady now, where the hell would the city of Atlanta be? Dead in the water.

FRANK BLAKE: Well said, Bernie.

The other thing that I would call attention to in John's comment is, a lot of us, as we think about your impact on this world, we think about Home Depot and the hundreds of thousands of associates, but as John points out, there are untold numbers of patients around the world that now get different treatment for stroke and are returning to normal lives that they never would've had that opportunity.

Just an extraordinary change that you really kicked off at Grady. Amazing story, amazing story.

We will go next to someone really well, Bernie, another great leader at Home Depot. Ann Marie Campbell.

ANN MARIE CAMPBELL: My question for Bernie is long, long, great history of doing great things, but what has been your proudest moment?

A moment that you remember and smile every time you remember that moment?

BERNIE MARCUS: Ann Marie. First of all, I love you.

You are a personification of everything we work for.

I would tell you that every time Home Depot comes out with another surprising quarter, I think about the 500,000 people that have created it and how many great people like you, Ann Marie, were participants in it.

It could not happen without you.

All the things that I do, I made a speech once in front of the... Frank, I think when you were there, and I talk about all the things that we accomplished with my foundation.

It's all day based on the profitability of Home Depot, how well a Home Depot did, what earnings they were, what their dividends were.

This is what pays for the foundation. Everything I do with Kicking Up Dust, this book, everything I've done, it is all Home Depot.

If it hadn't been for Home Depot, none of this would've happened.

I have to say my proudest thing is being part of Home Depot, helping create it, helping nurture it, and helping to get to where it is today, which is one of the great companies in America by far, by far in so many different ways.

Not just return out of a vested capital, not on a metrics, but on the kind of people that they have at Home Depot, people like you, Ann Marie, people who give with their heart, people who live their lives the way you would want to see them live their lives, caring about other people, worrying about other people, helping other people create lifestyles.

All of those things are part of what I'm proud of.

FRANK BLAKE: The next question I want to tee up with this background because in my experience with you, Bernie, one of the things that makes you so distinct is the way you teach is so memorable.

When the lessons you taught me, and I know the lessons you taught many other associates are just burned into their minds because you just have a great way of dynamically showing something.

This is a long tee up from an associate, but I thought it was worth playing because you get some sense of how you convey lessons to people.

DEBBIE RAMBO: Hello Bernie. This is Debbie Rambo.

We met in 1987 at store 4.

39 years ago, we met during a store walk and the store manager at the time was Bob Wallace.

He wanted to make sure I pat down the light bulb aisle before your store walk and I stayed overnight and hadn't gotten home.

You walked in the door the next day and I was so proud of that aisle. As soon as you walked in, you immediately turned right and to the hardware aisle and everyone looked at each other like, "What just happened?"

We all rushed to where you are at and your eyes were fixated at this one section that clearly had plenty of out of stocks.

You looked at me and you said, "Debbie, please go get me a piece of paper and some tape." As I turned, I heard all kinds of noises.

You were moving all the peg hooks where there was no merchandise and they were dropping all over the floor.

I handed you the piece of paper and you wrote, "Pegboard sold in lumber," and taped it on the pegboard where the product should have been merchandise and you walked away.

Every time to this day, 39 years later, when I see a side cap at the end of an aisle and there's no product and empty peg hooks, I want to write, "Pegboard sold in lumber."

I first want to thank you for an email that you sent me 10 years ago of encouragement while I was battling cancer.

It really, really, truly meant the world to me. Later, I found out that Kinsky told you what I was going through.

I have been truly blessed to have learned the Home Depot culture from you and I pass it on to who I interact with today.

I just want to say a huge thank you from me and my family to you and your family. Bernie, thank you so much.

BERNIE MARCUS: Well, thank you for, number one, beating the Big C.

I think that's more important, of all the things you said, that is the critical factor, that you had the courage and the foresight and the ability to knock it out.

But all of these things that I did on my store walks were all basic stuff, basic 101 retailing, and I'm glad that you sucked it up. You walk a store and I don't know.

Somehow, I once told a story. Frank, I may have told you the story.

I had in the uncanny way of walking along the line and putting my hand up on a shelf and stopping at a product and just taking a product.

From that product, I found out that the manufacturer was lousy. The product was not good. People weren't buying it. It was overpriced.

All of things just by touching the product and feeling the product.

This is all basic retailing that I tried over the years in my store walks to try to get people to understand and I'm happy you got the lesson and not only got the lesson, but lived the lesson and made yourself a better person.

God bless you. Hope you're healthy now.

FRANK BLAKE: She's terrific. I just love that, "pegboard sold in lumber."

I think that's such a great...

That's a lesson, as she said, she never forgot.

We've got another store walk comment that's related.

Again, another teaching moment. I think they're just... You used the floor of the store as a university, as a teaching, as a place to convey learning and knowledge.

It was just brilliant.

GILES BOWMAN: This is Giles Bowman.

I remember reading in Built From Scratch that you said, "We did not take the customers coming into our stores for granted.

"We really wanted them back and our entire service culture developed from that."

That service culture was reinforced with me on my first Bernie roadshow in Houston back in 1997.

I was a new merchant with the company, about four months. I was waiting in the interior door aisle for you and Pat to walk in to work. I was probably a bit nervous, stressed, maybe excited. I don't know, maybe basketcase is the right term.

When you guys came into the aisle, I went right into my department review. I was like, "Look, Bernie, a whole bay of 30-inch Lauan left-hand doors and a whole bay of right-hands, floor to ceiling, job-like quantities."

As I'm talking, I noticed a customer enter the aisle about 10 bays away but I kept talking to you.

You were Bernie. I'd only seen you on magazine covers, so you were like a rockstar.

Bernie, you elbowed me in the arm and I looked over at you and with your eyes, you motion to the end of the aisle.

Without saying a single word, you were telling me that the most important person in the store was that customer.

The chairman of the board was not important. The customer was.

Obviously I didn't walk to the customer, I ran. Bernie, thank you for teaching us to be passionate about customer service.

BERNIE MARCUS: That was an old story.

That was replayed over and over and over every time I went into a store.

Because normally what I would do is I would leave the group and go take care of that customer and set the stage.

By doing that, I wanted you to do that when you were walking a store with the people that work for you.

Set the example that the customer is everything. If we don't have customers, look, they don't need us. They've got lots of competition.

They have lots of places to go.

They don't have to go to us.

In many cases, they pass a lot of stores to come to us.

They have to come to us because, number one, they trust us. They trust us that we'll take care of them.

They trust that we'll give them the right product. They trust that we will make sure they're happy with what they bought and they'll make sure when they walk out of the store, they have everything they need to finish the job that they're doing.

That is the creation of Home Depot. That's why you guys are doing so great today. You're phenomenal.

You're going to benefit as well, all of you. By the way, isn't it a great to hear? People have been there 49 years.

FRANK BLAKE: Yeah, exactly.

BERNIE MARCUS: 39 years. Wow.

FRANK BLAKE: Exactly. Wow.

BERNIE MARCUS: That's fabulous.

FRANK BLAKE: Exactly. We'll do two more questions. We've got a bunch of questions from vendors, but I got to have...

I'll narrow it down to one and it's from Jim Hagerdorn.

JIM HAGERDORN: Bernie, I think if I was going to give a message to you…

I think Home Depot, which is an awesome place, is a testament to you and Arthur and Pat and Kenny.

You're really the father of Home Depot.

I called my father that when he was alive, the living founder.

We did a lot for the living founder and we honor them a lot like a living founder and that's you.

I think you should be so proud of what you created.

I want to thank you for being a terrific friend of me, personally, of the retail world and I really want to thank you for being a great American. Love you. Deuce.

BERNIE MARCUS: Well, thank you.

Listen, without great vendors, without the support that we got from our vendors and our producers getting supplies into our stores, we could never have been successful.

The deal here was always the same way. We tried to treat our vendors with loving care. They were important to us.

We never tried to abuse them as many retailers do. We tried to stay above board, help them wherever they needed help, and that helped create their business.

As they grew, they became more important to us. We appreciate all those vendors that kept our stores going all these years.

You can't sell product if you don't have it. As we know, in the last year or two, many stores did not have product while Home Depot did.

It's good. It worked out well because we had the right manufacturers, but we also had the right people in distribution in our company.

Thank you very much for your comment.

FRANK BLAKE: Actually, maybe I lied. We'll do two more still.

ED MARY: Hi, Bernie. This is Ed Mary, Home Depot district services manager here in South Florida.

We've met on several occasions back when I was a store manager at Store 204 in Boca Raton, Florida.

I just want to thank you for letting me tag along as you walk with some truly amazing leaders in my store, whether it was Craig Menear, Bill Lenehan, Hector Padilla.

Hearing your insight firsthand was truly inspirational for me as a store leader. O

ther times, I'd turn the corner and you'd be standing in the light cloud and we would engage in conversation around product assortment, style, and really trying to nail down a local market focus.

That's really stuck with me over the years.

Again, I just wanted to say a big thank you from your South Florida Home Depot family.

BERNIE MARCUS: Well, thank you.

Ed, just remember what you learned and carry on.

Keep doing what we did.

Keep emulating all the good things that you learned and all of those good things that you learned will make you a better person and will make the people that work for you love you more and do it because they like you, not because you are the boss.

Those are learning lessons that, all of my life, I only learned from the best people and try to forget all the dumb things from the stupid people.

Don't follow the stupid people.

FRANK BLAKE: There you go.

That's the lesson. That's the lesson.

All right, we've got one more question.

It's more a comment, but, boy, it's a great summation to a lot of these comments.

BROCK DARBY: Hi, Bernie. This is Brock Darby.

I'm now a regional vice president for Home Depot, but when we first met, I was going through assistant manager training in Atlanta in 1994.

My wife, Trish, also worked for us for 10 years until we had our third child and were fortunate enough to have one of us stay home.

I have a few favorite memories.

The first is how you made sure that the field always had a voice.

I could still see you moving around the meeting in a store manager town hall, making us answer the difficult questions.

What's broke? What do we need to fix? How do we make it better for the associates? How do we make it better for the customers?

It's still a critical piece of who we are, and we still work to do the same today with the same passion you brought.

The second favorite memory is how you would tell us at the end of any meeting or any call we were on that you loved us.

I can't imagine that you know this, but both Trisha and I lost our fathers at pretty early ages, and to this day, we talk about the fact that you, in many ways, filled that role for us as we were growing up through our 20s and 30s .

We'd love you, Bernie, more than you could know, and we're so appreciative of the lives that we've been blessed with through you and through Home Depot.

Wishing you the best always, Bernie.

BERNIE MARCUS: Well, thank you so much for those kind comments.

I'm happy that I was part of your life.

FRANK BLAKE: I hope, Bernie.

We've got many more clips that we could play, but this is some indication of just the hundreds of thousands of lives touched by Home Depot, touched by your philanthropy.

I'd come back to the book because I do want to encourage everybody listening to this podcast to go out and buy the book because it's a terrific book and you get some sense of just the energy and passion and knowledge and wisdom that Bernie brings to everything, just everything you do.

I like this format of just getting some quotes from people because they're awesome. They're just awesome.

It's just people, again, whose lives you change, like Brock and everybody who commented.

Thank you for your time, Bernie. Thank you for the wisdom in your book.

I don't know if you have any last comments.

BERNIE MARCUS: Yeah, I have a question for you.

FRANK BLAKE: It's been a privilege. Yeah?

BERNIE MARCUS: How long you been doing this?

FRANK BLAKE: I've been doing this six years now.

BERNIE MARCUS: Wow.

It's a great idea, Frank.

I will tell you that anybody who's listening, I will tell you that without a question, as I've told you, you were the savior of Home Depot.

You're the guy that came in when we had hit rock bottom and brought the company back and set up the new regime that started with Craig Menear and Ted Decker and looking us forward.

All those things that you heard today, you know, backwards and forwards, it's part of your life and part of your thinking.

Congratulations on this. I'm happy to be here today.

FRANK BLAKE: Well, thank you. This is awesome.

BERNIE MARCUS: God bless you.

FRANK BLAKE: God bless you.

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Win Bernie's New Book

The son of a cabinetmaker and garment worker, Bernie Marcus overcame a hardscrabble childhood to create one of the best entrepreneurial stories in American history - the launch and success of The Home Depot.

We're giving away another 100 copies of Bernie's new book, Kick Up Some Dust: Lessons on Thinking Big, Giving Back, and Doing It Yourself.

In it, he shares his ideas, the lessons he's learned, and advice for living and business. Click here to enter to win a copy.

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