I have to admit, I’ve always admired Wal-Mart and its success through the years. Certainly they have taken some (well-deserved) publicity hits around employee pay and certain labor practices, of which I’m not a fan. But remember that as a business, there are few that can match the long-term success of Wal-Mart.

Now the retail giant is showing the type of leadership that businesses across America need to emulate. The company recently announced that it will focus on hiring U.S. veterans — 100,000 of them.  Sadly, unemployment for our veterans hovers above 10 percent. The same patriots who have kept our country safe have unemployment far higher than the national average. They should be able to get a job.

In our predictions report for 2013, I discussed how companies need to do a better job of hiring for aptitude, not just experience. Wal-Mart has taken a fabulous step in that regard, and with its incredible scale and size is playing a new leadership role in getting our country back to greatness.

In addition, Wal-Mart says it will invest $50 billion dollars over the next 10 years to buy more American goods – great news for our economy. While these moves are probably designed partially for public relations reasons, they also are very wise business decisions that will result in greater financial performance and set an excellent example for other American businesses.

Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company's growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company's global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike's tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.

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