Jim Sinegal: Renowned CEO, Storytelling Leader

Named one of the world’s “Top CEOs” by Forbes magazine,  Jim Sinegal is a renowned executive who’s also one of my storytelling heroes.  When I saw today’s headline announcing that he will turn over the reins as Costco’s CEO when he turns 76 on January 1, I was reminded of my conversations with him. One interview was for my book, Around the Corporate Campfire: How Great Leaders Use Stories to Inspire Success, and the other was for a Costco management video.

An intuitive storyteller, Sinegal relates his favorite examples of managers “caught doing things right” when he speaks at the company’s management training sessions. Responding to my question about why he’s dedicated to storytelling as a management communication tool, Sinegal said, “What else have we got besides stories? That’s what really hits home with people; it’s what brings meaning to the work we do… A picture is worth 1,000 words, and a story told appropriately is priceless.”

Down-to-earth and personable, the savvy businessman chats with new employees as he roams the store aisles, grabs lunch in the employee cafeteria or visits one of the company’s food stands for his favorite menu item, the $1.50 hot dog and coke.

His successor, Craig Jelinek, will “be an upgrade,” Sinegal jokes. Jelinek has been with the company since 1984, most recently as President and COO. He says the $1.50 price for the hot dog and coke combo is “a trademark of ours” and will not be changed. “We haven’t raised it in 26 years, and I don’t see us” doing it, Jelinek says.

Read the entire article that appeared in The Seattle Times: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2016072309_costco01.html

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