#166: Practicing Conscious Leadership with John Mackey
#166: Practicing Conscious Leadership with John Mackey
What’s the key to a successful business? Whole Foods Market CEO and best-selling author John Mackey believes it lies in Conscious Capitalism. This is the idea that higher purpose, stakeholder orientation, conscious leadership, and conscious culture can transform companies and lead to long-term success. This model was hugely successful for Whole Foods. It helped them grow from a single store in Austin, TX to hundreds of stores around the US and landed them on Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for 20 consecutive years. However, conscious capitalism and conscious leadership were things John had to learn and practice. John believes that by being a conscious leader, leading with love, integrity, and authenticity, and following the ideas of conscious capitalism, any business can find success. In this episode, Hala and John talk about what it means to be a conscious leader and how you can become one, his journey in starting Whole Foods Market, failures and what he learned, his secret to finding happiness, and much more.
– John’s background
– John’s complicated relationship with his father
– Opening SaferWay
– What contributed to the success of Whole Foods Market?
– How to find the right team
– The importance of pivoting and adapting
– Wholepeople.com and learning from failure
– Conscious Capitalism and the real purpose of business
– John’s transformation into conscious leadership
– John’s secret to finding happiness
– Qualities of a conscious leader
– Win-Win-Win situations in business
– John’s #1 tip to transform your company culture
– John on transparent salaries
– John’s intentions for his next business
– John’s actionable advice to be more profitable tomorrow
– John’s secret to profiting
– And other topics…
John Mackey is the Co-Founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market. The company has been included on Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for 20 consecutive years.
John is also the best-selling author of Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, and the co-founder of the Conscious Capitalism Movement.
Mackey is recognized as one of Fortune’s “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,” Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year Overall Winner for the United States,” Institutional Investor’s “Best CEO in America,” Barron’s “World’s Best CEO,” MarketWatch’s “CEO of the Year,” Fortune’s “Businessperson of the Year,” and Esquire’s “Most Inspiring CEO.”
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John’s Books: https://www.amazon.com/John-Mackey/e/B00AE9FR5K/
John’s Website: https://media.wholefoodsmarket.com/experts/john-mackey
John’s Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-mackey-a824bb1ab/
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[00:00:00] Hala: Hey, John, welcome to young and profiting podcast.
[00:00:03] John Mackey: Thanks for having me on holla. Good to be here. Awesome.
[00:00:06] Hala: Yeah. Well, I'm super excited to have you here today. I can't wait to hear all about conscious leadership. I think this topic is super hot right now in the business world. And for those of you who are tuning in and don't know about John, he is the CEO and co-founder of whole foods market.
[00:00:21] Hala: It started as a small grocery store in Austin. If you can believe it. And now it's a grocery empire that we all know and love over 500 stores. And there's so much to get into in terms of your work at whole foods, conscious capitalism and leadership. But before we get into all that, I'd love to warm things up by learning about your background, getting a little personal.
[00:00:39] Hala: So after I was doing some research, I found out that you came from Houston, you grew up in Houston and your family was pretty financially well. Your father, bill Mackey. He was an accounting professor. He later became the CEO of a healthcare company that sold for nearly $1 billion in the 1980s. And so I saw that you had a complicated relationship [00:01:00] with your father, but I must also imagine that he had a big positive influence on your career.
[00:01:05] Hala: So I'd love to kind of hear about your relationship and the influence your father had on your career.
[00:01:10] John Mackey: yeah, my dad did have a big impact on me and, and we were close when I was a child and he was a college professor and, uh, he was, he was a good dad. He played baseball, played football, take us to football games.
[00:01:24] John Mackey: He was a professor at rice university. So I learned about losing at an early age since Ray rice lost almost every sport they played in. And then when he left rice and he went in. Business more or less, you got hired by his clients and he rose up. And as you said, he became CEO of a successful hospital management company.
[00:01:47] John Mackey: But when I started safer way and then whole foods market, I really didn't have very much business experience. I stayed wherever I wanted to in college, I never finished. I took 120 hours of electives and I [00:02:00] studied, but I was a voracious reader. So, and still am I just read, read, read, read, read, but I just didn't take any business classes.
[00:02:07] How whole foods started as failing health food store 44 years ago
[00:02:07] John Mackey: So when I got going with my girlfriend, Renee, we were living in this co-op housing. Co-op that's where we met each other. And then. I had a food awakening at the co-op that's when I learned how to cook, I think it was a vegetarian co-op and I became a vegetarian and I've been vegan for 19 years and I became the food buyer.
[00:02:28] John Mackey: I just got so passionate about natural organic foods. This was kind of when it was the, kind of at the early, the very early birth of trying to move away from processed foods to really natural whole foods. And. Renee. And I started at first store up safer way vegetarian store. It was very pure vegetarian.
[00:02:47] John Mackey: We didn't really sell sugar, white flour, alcohol, and, and, uh, we named his soul coffee. And as I like to say, we also didn't sell much of anything. Cause [00:03:00] we, we started the business with $45,000 in capital and we lost 23,000 of it in the first year, despite Renee and I living on about $200 a month and living in the store, we lived on the third floor of the store.
[00:03:12] John Mackey: And, uh, but, but we did better in the second year. We, I, cause I was reading business books left and right. Everything. I could get my hands on. We eat out a $5,000 profit in year two and I realized, well, gosh, we need a bigger location because this one's competitively disadvantaged. And I don't think the.
[00:03:32] John Mackey: Would have given us the investors would not have, let us expand this. Their attitude was, Hey, well, we finally made a little bit of money. Let's make some more money and we'll talk about it in a few years. I didn't know if we had a few years because of the competitive situation in Austin. And they said, well, if you can find a new investors and I think their strategy was, who'd be stupid enough to invest in this business.
[00:03:51] John Mackey: You'll never find anybody else, but we did. And we found some other investors and we were able to relocate the store to a much bigger location. [00:04:00] And we merged with another small natural food store and they didn't want to be called safer way. And we didn't want to be called Clarksville natural groceries.
[00:04:06] John Mackey: So we came up with the name, whole foods market, that store unlike safer way, we sold meat, we sold seafood, we sold sugar. We saw white flour. We sold alcohol. We saw coffee. And that store within just a few months of opening became the highest volume natural food store in the United States based on. All the inside information I had of the industry at that time, because I knew all the players, it was such a small little industry and it was hugely successful, but I just didn't were still a know much about business.
[00:04:35] John Mackey: And my dad that's really pivoting back to the answer to that question. Yeah. My father, he was really good at business and, and this was so great for our relationship because I went into kind of a, he was my mentor and I'd say for the first 16 years at, uh, Safeway and whole foods, I really never made a major decision.
[00:04:55] John Mackey: Checking running it by him. And I like to say that that was a very good thing
[00:05:00] because I would have driven the whole foods bus off a cliff more than one time. And my dad always grabbed the wheel and says, you know, what are you doing? Get away from the edge. Let's uh, let's, let's get in the middle of the road here.
[00:05:12] John Mackey: And so I really do think I would have probably failed as a business person. If my dad hadn't been there and helped me and taught me. And meanwhile, I'm still continuing to read crazy amount of business books. And yeah, really, within a few years, I began to know what the heck I was doing. And my dad kept teaching me.
[00:05:31] John's complicated relationship with his father
[00:05:31] John Mackey: And, um, when I finally ended the mentorship, 16 years later, we were alienated for about a year or two. Cause I fired him off our board and, and, uh, he was in a different place in his life. He just, he wanted to, uh, he'd made so much money. He made much more money at whole foods than he ever made in his own business career.
[00:05:50] John Mackey: And so he didn't want to do. And I understood that, but I really wanted to grow the company. So what we were fighting about was the rate of growth. I wanted to grow much, much faster than he did. [00:06:00] He was very conservative. And I finally, I said, Dan, you need to get off the board and I want you to sell half your whole foods market stock, because then you'll take all the money you ever need the rest of your life, but leave half of it in because I want you to be pulling for me and we're going to grow this thing.
[00:06:16] John Mackey: I'm going to make that other half worth a lot more than the half that you sold. And, and after he left within about a year, we had doubled the stock price at whole foods because we'd already gone public. And so he had gotten his full, full investment back, even though he'd sold half of it. And even though he was a little upset, we got, we, we stayed very close.
[00:06:37] John Mackey: I still sought advice from him. I just didn't run everything by him. And so it had a happy.
[00:06:43] Hala: Yeah, that does sound, it's like it's a win-win scenario at least. And it's, it sounds like he was a great mentor to you. So that's great. So I'm curious, you know, you dropped out of college, which I didn't realize before I really studied into you.
[00:06:56] Hala: And it's pretty unique to be such as, you know, there's lots of successful CEOs [00:07:00] who dropped out, but majority are like, you know, MBAs and, and went to Harvard and things like that. So what was that like for you dropping out of school?
[00:07:10] Making the descion to drop out of college.
[00:07:10] John Mackey: It was a very different era. This was in the middle, this was the middle of the 1970s.
[00:07:16] John Mackey: And, uh, I'm matriculated. I went back and forth between two universities, Trinity, and, and, uh, university of Texas and Austin. And I mean, I didn't think about it the way you're asking the question because I was on a pursuit of knowledge. I wanted to know. I figured out the meaning of life. I was so. I would learning at such a rapid rate that even though I didn't study any business, I never thought I wasn't well-educated I was better educated than anybody I knew.
[00:07:47] John Mackey: I just was a very diverse, I mean, I used to go to the library eight to 10 hours a day and just read all day long. And I just audited classes I was interested in. So I got a fabulous education after I took control of it and just [00:08:00] started studying where my curiosity and my mind took me. Yeah. I don't have an MBA, but yeah.
[00:08:05] John Mackey: The truth of the matter is, is that so many entrepreneurs really aren't necessarily they're, they're eager to get going on their businesses. I mean, in, in my generation, you got, you got bill gates, Steve jobs, Michael Dell, these guys, all Peter TEALS, bribing people not to finish college. So there's a lot of entrepreneurs out there who don't finish and don't get a BA or so.
[00:08:30] John Mackey: I don't think I, this was, this was happening in my era and I don't, I can't speak for it today. The skills that I'm not saying, the skills you learn in business school aren't valuable, but I don't really think they teach you how to be an entrepreneur. I think you've either got the fire in your belly for that, or you don't.
[00:08:46] John Mackey: And I did. And so I couldn't wait to go back and study business. I was gonna, I was going to figure it out as I went along and frankly, it worked pretty well.
[00:08:56] Hala: Yeah. So you ended up starting safer way. Like you [00:09:00] mentioned, you dropped out of college, he started, you got $45,000 from your friends and family.
[00:09:06] Hala: What was it like opening up that first store and taking on such a big risk? What was that like for you?
[00:09:13] John Mackey: You know, it's interesting, you asked me this because I'm in the process, I've begun writing the story of whole foods. So that's my next book is going to be the whole story. And so I've been revisiting, I did a whole chronology of the history of the company.
[00:09:26] John Mackey: And so it's all kind of fresh in my mind. And you know, what's interesting is. It's easy to remember the very beginning of the business. I remember it like it was yesterday, it was 44 years ago, but I remember it clearly. And, um, and I remember obviously what's happened in the last few years and then there's the, there's the middle period where I can remember it, but I have to really focus on it.
[00:09:48] John Mackey: And so opening safer way was an incredibly one of the happiest days of my life. I mean, it was like we have a store. This is amazing people. And I liked it. I liked retail. You order [00:10:00] things that comes in, you stock it on your shelf. Customers come in, you get to a small business, you get to know them, you become friends with them, the people you're working with, you're friends with.
[00:10:09] John Mackey: So it's a community of people that share similar values, beliefs. And we were all really young. I mean, part of the reason I remember it is because, you know, I was 24 years old and my girlfriend was 20 and, and that's an amazing part of the all stages of life are good. But those early twenties are particularly interesting because you're, everything's fresh and new and you're excited and you have a lot of energy and, you know, I don't think I was taking a risk.
[00:10:34] John Mackey: I didn't think about it that way. I was just doing something I wanted to do. And if it failed, well, I'd do something else. I didn't, I wasn't, I wasn't very attached to the outcome, so I never, I didn't, wasn't afraid. And I think as general rule, most entrepreneurs, it's not about risk. I don't think they think about it that way.
[00:10:51] John Mackey: That's how other people think entrepreneurs must think mostly they just, they're passionate about something. And they believe they can, they'll [00:11:00] figure it out as they go along. I didn't think I knew anything much about business, but I thought I was smart and I thought I would learn. And I thought I would, once you're interested in something, Holly, you just you'd learn it so much faster than if you're not interested in it.
[00:11:14] John Mackey: And I also think I experienced it as something, as an entrepreneur that serendipity occurs frequently. You seem to meet the right people at the right time. Things, circumstances seem to arrange themselves so that things work out. It's kind of like you're on this journey and the right people show up at the right time with, and you learn the right things at the right time and you make some mistakes, but you learn from them as well.
[00:11:40] John Mackey: So I guess while I'll say it was a lot of fun, starting a business is hard, but it's so much fun. It's building a company, I'm doing it for 44 years. Right. There's nothing I've done in my life. That's been as much fun as building whole food. So
[00:11:54] Hala: whole foods is one of the biggest companies in the world right now.
[00:11:58] Hala: And you're a founder, [00:12:00] not only a CEO, you founded this company and you're an entrepreneur. So I'd love to hear from you. Like what qualities personality wise do you think contributed to all of the success
[00:12:09] John Mackey: for you? I mean, I think they're probably many things, but first of all, I think I have a, I have a very high degree of self-awareness meaning I know what I'm good at, but I also, I'm quite aware that I'm not good at many things.
[00:12:24] John Mackey: And I've had the wisdom to be able to, I think when you're passionate about something, you attract people too. People want purpose. And if you're purpose driven and passionate, you do a. People that share your vision and values and they get, you get them excited and they want to play along with you. So that's one of the things that I've been able to do.
[00:12:43] John Mackey: Well, I'm just a very, I'm a very intense, passionate person, and that is attractive to many people. And so I've never had a problem attracting people to want to play the same game I'm playing. It's like, this is going to be fun. Let's do it. Come on, get on. That's going to be going to have a [00:13:00] blast. And so that's one thing I've and so that's important because, because I've been self-aware about what I'm not good at.
[00:13:07] John Mackey: I've been able to attract a lot of people to whole foods and hold on to them. Many talents and abilities that I didn't have. It takes a team to build a successful businesses. The media glorifies the entrepreneur as some kind of genius. And sure. People like Steve jobs and bill gates and Elon Musk, and Sorgi bran.
[00:13:29] John Mackey: These are, these are obviously brilliant people. There's no question about it, but I promise you, if you look under the hood, you'll see there's the Eric Schmidt at Google and there's, and there's the Steve Balmer at Microsoft, or there's the, there's always the team. And I recognize that and I built a great team, a team that worked, we worked together for decade after decade, the talent rises up.
[00:13:53] John Mackey: We learned together, we shared in our successes, we shared in our failures. So the self-awareness is to know that [00:14:00] I'm not really that good at hiring people. I'm good at attracting people, but I'm not good at hiring them because. It comes as a weakness because it comes out of one of my strengths and that strength is as I see the good in people, I see their potential and that speaks to them and they want a slick.
[00:14:15] How to find a team that complements your strengths and makes up for your weaknesses
[00:14:15] John Mackey: He sees me and he knows what I'm capable of. And so people want to live up to that too. It also means though that I oftentimes overestimate people, my longtime, chief financial officer, Glenda Flanagan, who I worked with for 29 years before she retired a few years ago, Glenda was really good at seeing through people's mask and their, and their, and their pretenses and their bullshit.
[00:14:39] John Mackey: And so she was so good at it. I learned basically if Glenda didn't want to hire. I didn't want to hire him either. And the, and, and if she wanted to hire somebody, I trusted her judgment because she almost never made any mistakes. So building people that compliment your weaknesses, I think is one of my secrets.
[00:14:56] John Mackey: And I think that's a secret for anyone. One thing I notice happens to some
[00:15:00] entrepreneurs, particularly young ones that make a lot of money quick. Their egos can go out of control. They, they, I had my face slammed into the ground repeatedly, starting in the first year. I lost half the capital entrusted to me, and we almost went bankrupt in the first year.
[00:15:13] John Mackey: And then in the second, and we start whole foods. We had a flood that almost wiped out the company, uh, you know, nine months after we opened up and we were lucky to survive. I've had repeated times and in 2008, our stock price dropped 90%. We were trading at two times our cash flow. We could have been taken over by anybody and paid for it with our own money and just two years.
[00:15:36] John Mackey: So I've repeatedly had setbacks failures. Times when I, I got my head kind of cracked, cracked down to the ground and that teaches you a certain amount of humility. It's like, and in a sense that you're very fortunate and gratitude comes along that, well, here I am, I'm still alive. I'm still going. I'm still learning.
[00:15:55] John Mackey: I'm still growing. Lots of times I could have failed. So I think [00:16:00] self-awareness knowing what you're good at knowing what you're not good at and attracting people. Those are some of the things that have led to me to be successful.
[00:16:08] Hala: Yeah. And the other thing that I'm hearing, as you're saying all, this is your willingness to kind of adapt and pivot when necessary.
[00:16:15] Hala: So for example, you were willing to combine with another competitor, so to speak and create whole foods. You were willing to sell ultimately to Amazon knowing that it was in the best interest of your company. So talk to us about pivoting and the different pivots you've taken as an entrepreneur. One
[00:16:31] John Mackey: way to think about it.
[00:16:32] John Mackey: Hala is that it's an adventure you're, you're, you're launching on this adventure. You don't exactly. You might have some. Business plan, which I always laugh at people's business plans because don't take them too seriously. You need to do them because they're a good exercise and thinking through your business, but I've seen people take their business plan.
[00:16:51] John Mackey: Like if they write it down somehow or another, that may. Real or true. Permanent is not, it's simply a temporary roadmap, which you need [00:17:00] to periodically throw away and write another one because the world is continually evolving and changing. So if you see it view it as an adventure, then you're on this adventure and you're going to all these interesting things are going to happen.
[00:17:14] John Mackey: There's going to be twists in the road, unexpected setbacks, unexpected opportunities that you never so many businesses. I mean, a good example in Amazon, for example, the whole a good part of the business success of Amazon is due to a lot of things, but one of them is, uh, AWS and that was never there. I wasn't their primary business.
[00:17:34] John Mackey: They almost sort of stumbled into. And it become one of the most important parts of the whole company now as is AWS. It's very important Amazon, but it came along, it wasn't written in their business plan. It was something that was sort of serendipitous that occurred. And Jeff being such a brilliant guy took advantage of that and got a guy like Andy Jassy, who's now the CEO to do AWS and the rest is sort of history.
[00:17:59] John Mackey: I [00:18:00] think that happens all the time. And we had so many different opportunities at whole foods and it's knowing which ones to take and which ones to not take, but it's fun that way you're constantly learning and growing and discovering. And it's just, it's the joy of the, of the.
[00:18:17] Hala: Yeah. And one of the, um, opportunities that I read about was whole people, which was your first attempt at being whole foods online.
[00:18:26] Hala: So I'd love to talk about that experience, that failure, so to speak, because it's just so interesting. Now, millennials, including myself, all my groceries are on Amazon whole foods. I don't even go to the grocery store. And I think that's majority of
[00:18:39] John Mackey: my listings. We're losing, we're losing, we're losing money on all of your cost is $20 to make.
[00:18:48] John Mackey: So whole people.com was back in the, I got so excited when the internet was when the worldwide web was, it was really invented. And it was like, oh my God, I was like [00:19:00] an early adopter. And I thought, this is definitely going to change the world. And so we started whole people.com back. And like, we [email protected] back in, I think, 1998.
[00:19:12] John Mackey: And then we acquired a mail-order vitamin company called Amarie on, based in Boulder, Colorado. And I thought, you know what? We need to combine this with whole foods.com and maybe we'll, this was a mistake. We changed the name. Cause our slogan was whole foods, whole people, whole planet you'll notice we have a foundation called the whole planet foundation.
[00:19:31] John Mackey: Well, whole people was like, okay, well we'll do whole people. We'd probably. Left [email protected] that just shows you how little I knew about marketing and branding at that time. And we did hold people and we had, it was a big idea. We were, we were in a lot of different categories and, and, uh, we were actually just kind of ahead of our time.
[00:19:50] John Mackey: And, and we were caught up in that whole internet land rush type of thing. We, you gotta, you gotta get jumping now. You're never going to be able to get into it, but I discovered a [00:20:00] bunch of things. First of all, we were the market wasn't there. The only people that were using the world wide web back then for the most part were we're testing.
[00:20:08] John Mackey: And, uh, mostly guys, mostly techies and they weren't necessarily interested in the products that we were selling. And they were just looking for deals because all these guys were getting venture capital money because they had these incredible, ridiculous valuations. And they, he didn't have a business plan.
[00:20:26] John Mackey: They often just had a couple of pages on a, on a computer that was their pitch deck were just two or three pages. And, but they still raise money. And then they'd subsidize stuff with venture capital money. They basically selling stuff below cost in order to, um, generate sales. And, and sometimes you can make the leap past the chasm there to build a business that lasts.
[00:20:51] John Mackey: I mean, Amazon did, although I think, I think they probably came close to failure as well, but I don't remember when the great wipe out occurred when pets.com and [00:21:00] drugstore.com and basically all of these generic. Uh, web URLs, they just started falling like dominoes and whole people was no different. Now we didn't lose too much money from whole foods because we had funded most of it through venture capital money.
[00:21:16] John Mackey: But I, I was, I'd moved to Boulder. I was the CEO of both companies, but I, I put my president and chief operating officer in charge of whole foods. And I focused on whole people, but really seriously, after a year I thought this thing's not going to work at least not anytime soon. And back then today, the market believes in a hybrid model, but back then, In 1999, they believed in a pure place.
[00:21:41] John Mackey: And they thought the hybrid model was a terrible idea. So unlike whole foods, market capitalization or stock price was getting killed because we were losing money on the internet. And they said, well, we don't want you to the people that bought whole foods didn't want us in the internet. It was new. They thought this was a distraction.
[00:21:57] John Mackey: And so, uh, eventually I just realized [00:22:00] this is killing our stock price. I don't know when we're going to make money. It may be years before this thing is financially viable. So we basically closed it down and sold off some of our intellectual capital to, um, Gaiam gaiam.com and we exited and I moved back to Austin.
[00:22:17] Conscious capitalism and the real purpose of business
[00:22:17] Hala: so let's transition to a main topic of today's episode conscious leadership.
[00:22:21] Hala: I thought a great way to start this off was free to explain the philosophy of conscious capitalism, which from my understanding that's where the idea of conscious leadership really stems from. So you wrote a bestselling book called conscious capitalism. Can you unpack that idea for
[00:22:36] John Mackey: us? Sure. I can. The first thing is conscious capitalism is basically it's capitalism and in a state that very clearly it's not some kind of socialism or some type of utopianism it's based on capitalism.
[00:22:50] Micro - the truth about capitalism
[00:22:50] John Mackey: And it just recognizes that some things that are taken for granted are not ordinarily seen in business. That that number one, it is the [00:23:00] four pillars of conscious capitalism or the first pillar is that every business has the potential to have a higher purpose. It's like if you go to a party sometime and ask people, what do you think the purpose of businesses.
[00:23:13] John Mackey: And people will look at you kind of odd with oddly it's like, what do you mean? What's the purpose of business? Like everybody knows the purpose of business, purpose of business to make money. It's like, that's an odd answer. If you ask what the purpose of a doctor is, they're very well paid, but the purpose of a doctor is not to make money.
[00:23:30] John Mackey: The purpose of a doctors to help heal people. If you ask what the purpose of a teacher is, it's to educate purpose as an architect is building's engineers construct things. Every one of the professions refers back to some type of value creation that they are doing for other people and business put in this very narrow box, which does not flattering at all, which is it's just about the money, right?
[00:23:56] John Mackey: That's all business people care about is profits and money. [00:24:00] And it's like, gee, it really not. Business is actually the greatest value creator in the world. Business creates far more value for other people than all the nonprofits and all the governments combined by exponentially more. And yet it doesn't get credit for it because the enemies of capitalism have put this label on it.
[00:24:19] John Mackey: It's just about profit it's greed and selfishness and exploitation. So the first thing about conscious capitalism is to say, you have this potential for a higher purpose, and every business has a higher purpose, whether they're conscious of it or not, that higher purpose comes into the value creation that they're doing for other people.
[00:24:37] John Mackey: So like whole foods is higher. Purpose is to nourish people in the planet. Amazon's higher purpose is to be the Earth's most customer centric business. Google's higher purpose is to organize the world. Information and make it universally accessible. All the companies that you most admire have an articulated higher purpose, but they're generally not giving credit for it.
[00:24:59] John Mackey: [00:25:00] And they're generally continue to be criticized. So purpose was first and the first chapter of conscious leadership I might add is put purpose first and we'll get back to that second pillar of conscious capitalism though, is all stakeholders. And by stakeholders. Now this is a tricky word because it's, it's been hijacked by people who hate capitalism.
[00:25:21] John Mackey: And they're trying to, they're trying to use it as a weapon. It's been weaponized, but stakeholders really just mean that it's not that it just means that the business has stakeholders, that it creates value for. It has customers. It creates value for customers. It creates value for its employees. It creates value for suppliers.
[00:25:38] John Mackey: It creates value for investors and it creates value for the communities that it's part of. And once you see it as clearly, and then you can begin to see that there's an interdependence between these stakeholders, for example, at whole foods, market or retail business. So management's jobs to first hire really.
[00:25:55] John Mackey: Team members and make sure they're well-trained and then once they're [00:26:00] well-trained, their job is to help them be happy because if the team members are happy in their jobs, they're going to naturally create more happiness for them. They're going to serve the customers better and therefore help them to be happy.
[00:26:13] John Mackey: And if the customers are happy, the business flourishes, and that's really good for the investors. So, and you can't really do any of this without having support, creating value for suppliers, because they're the ones that produce everything that we're selling in our stores. So they're a very important stakeholder.
[00:26:30] John Mackey: And so it's. Conscious capitalism says you all this, all the major stakeholders matter, manage the business in a conscious way. So all the stakeholders are benefiting. They're all flourishing together and you have this upward spiral higher and synergies began to happen. It doesn't mean everybody has equal ownership of the business.
[00:26:51] John Mackey: Now the business is owned by the investors, investors. They want returns on their, on their capital investment, but I made a good way to put it, to show you how profit's [00:27:00] been misunderstood is the founder of stakeholder theory is Dr. Ed Freeman, who I consider a good personal friend. He's had a massive impact on me over the years.
[00:27:09] John Mackey: And ed says that, you know, it's like my body has to produce red blood cells or I'll die. Right. It doesn't follow. The purpose of my life is to produce red blood cells. Similarly, business must make profits, or it will fail. It will die. That's a simple fact. If it doesn't have profits, it's not going to be able to meet its payroll is not going to build a buy new inventory.
[00:27:33] John Mackey: It's not going to pay the rent, pay the taxes it's going to fail. So profits are essential for a business to exist, but it doesn't follow just because business must produce profits. That that's why it exists. No, that may be how the shareholders and investors see it, but that's not. What's interior to the business.
[00:27:51] John Mackey: What's interior to the business is its higher purpose, whatever it is, whatever it's major value, value creation, primarily for customers is all about [00:28:00] that's where the higher purpose liens and every business should articulate that very clearly. If we want to defend business and capitalism, it starts with purpose.
[00:28:09] John Mackey: And then it starts with realizing all the stakeholders matter.
[00:28:13] Conscious leadership and conscious culture
[00:28:13] John Mackey: That leads us to the third pillar, which is conscious leadership. The reason I wrote conscious leadership books. We have two chapters on conscious leadership and conscious capitalism. When I'd go out and talk about conscious capitalism, people come up to me afterwards and they said their favorite chapters in the book besides purpose generally, and stakeholders, they loved the chapters on leadership.
[00:28:34] John Mackey: Couldn't we tell them more about that because if they're an entrepreneur or a business person, that's like, how do I do this? This is all great. In theory, how do I actually do it? And not just talk about it? What happens when times get tough and so conscious leadership. And it was written with the purpose of trying to help business people and entrepreneurs to be able to perform conscious capitalism and that you can't do that without conscious leadership.[00:29:00]
[00:29:00] John Mackey: And I know we'll talk a little bit more about that. So I'll just skip on down to conscious culture. Conscious culture is very simple. Look, we're going to spend a lot of high percentage of our lifetime at work. We should create cultures that really help people to flourish, help people to learn and grow that are fun, that people are better off for being part of that culture, that, that when people leave whole foods, we want them to be, well, hopefully they'll many of our people work with us for, you know, they just found their tribe and they never leave, but others, we want them to look back and say, you know, one of the best learning experiences I ever had was whole foods that was a great company to work for.
[00:29:35] John Mackey: And I think whole foods does have a great culture. We were named one of the a hundred best companies to work for for 20 consecutive years, leading up to the merger with Amazon when we were no longer an independent company. So we really weren't eligible any longer. So, um, that's, that's kind of what conscious capitalism is about its its purpose stakeholders, leadership and culture.
[00:29:57] John Mackey: Those are the four pillars that we built.
[00:29:59] How John was almost fired as CEO of his own company
[00:29:59] Hala: [00:30:00] Amazing. And I really, obviously we're going to get into leadership and dig really deep on that. We're also going to touch a lot about culture, which are super interesting facets of everything that you talk about. So let's talk about your own personal transformation into conscious leadership.
[00:30:15] Hala: So as I was doing my studying about you in late two thousands, you had a big turning point. It was a wake up call on your career. You were nearly fired and removed from your position as CEO. So I'd love to hear about those uncertain moments when you knew that there were some difficult conversations that were coming up, what was going on through your head and then how you evolved and grew as a conscious leader over the years.
[00:30:39] John Mackey: Well, I'm going to do this in detail in the book. So, um, you'll get a little, a little preamble, but I'm not going to get to the same level of detail and it can leave a few people out of it. Not going to identify there'll be identified in the book, but I'm not going to say it now, but basically, uh, I got to go back to the year.
[00:30:57] John Mackey: 2000 that was after [00:31:00] whole people had been written off and we'd sold amnion. And the whole mess was now out of the way, but I had alienated a couple of directors and there were two directors in an ambitious executive who really wanted me to go and the executive other executive to take my place. And so there was no other way to put it.
[00:31:24] John Mackey: It was, there was a coup attempt and I'm
There was a power struggle. I won. They lost.
[00:31:31] John Mackey: And, uh, uh, but it was a total wake up call for me. And that launched really. I realized, you know what, John, you've got to grow, you've got to learn more. You've got to be more emotionally intelligent. How did this ever happen? You should've seen this coming. You weren't paying attention. You were taking your position for granted.
[00:31:49] John Mackey: You weren't listening well enough. You weren't thoughtful enough. You'd hadn't. And so, and you, most importantly, I needed a better relationship with my board of directors. I [00:32:00] realized, you know what, I need to cultivate this board. I need to, I need to, I need to spend time with them. I need to, uh, need to call them up and make sure that they feel like I'm listening to them.
[00:32:10] John Mackey: And that they're, and they're being heard and they were acting on a lot of their suggestions. So, and then I took advantage of that executive departing to promote people that were actually better. And that launched a tremendous period of growth for whole foods market after. Began to wake up to become a more conscious leader combined with really the promotions of Walter Robb and AC Gallo to the chief operating officer positions.
[00:32:37] John Mackey: And then they became co-presidents and then Walter came on to become co CEO until he retired from the company back in 2016. And, um, we had a, such a good team and we just, we just rocked and rolled and we just were companies shot up. We grew 10 X over the next 15 years. So we really, really, that was explosive growth.
[00:32:58] John Mackey: The stock price went up. It was really happy [00:33:00] times.
[00:33:01] Hala: Yeah. So I love how you mentioned that you made some physical changes in terms of changing the people around you and your team, but how about mentally? Like what shifted inside of you and the way that you thought and connecting with your purpose with whole foods and, and what shifted mentally for you?
[00:33:17] John Mackey: You know, the best analogy I think is kind of like a near death experience. I nearly died as CEO and near-death experiences. If you don't wake up, then, you know, when will you wake up? It's like, if you've had a heart attack, you better wake up and you're good and change your diet and your lifestyle. You're going to have another one.
[00:33:37] John Mackey: You you've been given the final warning, you know, and you're lucky to it. Wasn't it wasn't that you didn't die at that first heart attack. That's a wake-up call.
It was really one of the best things that ever happened to me. I think a person is wise if the most terrible events, if they view them as that's their best opportunity to grow a crisis is the best opportunity you'll ever have to accelerate [00:34:00] your personal growth.
[00:34:01] John Mackey: Take advantage of it. And at that Rahm Emanuel said a crisis is a terrible thing to waste back in when he was chief of staff for president Obama. Well, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste for anybody to waste because it's a great opportunity to become a better leader, to become more calm.
[00:34:18] Hala: Yeah, I couldn't agree.
[00:34:19] Hala: More 100%.
[00:34:21] Aligning your work with your purpose
[00:34:21] Hala: So talk to us about why is it important for leaders to align to a higher purpose? And what higher purpose do you have at whole foods?
[00:34:28] Hala: Well, the
[00:34:28] John Mackey: higher purpose of the whole foods is to nourish people on the planet and there's a lot there. So if you unpack that nourish is a very powerful word, because it, you can nourish people with food, but you can also nurse them with love. You can nurse with them with attention and appreciations, and there's lots of ways to nourish the people that meet refers to all the stakeholders.
[00:34:50] John Mackey: All the stakeholders ultimately are people, right? And then, uh, That means that's an environmental call, but it's also thinking [00:35:00] about the larger planetary impacts on animals, on people that live in other countries, whole foods, you know, we purchased from God, I don't know, 80 different countries. So we have a, we have a connection to them and how we do business in those countries makes a difference.
[00:35:17] John Mackey: So purpose we've already talked about purpose, right? And, and, and the importance of that and how I use the red blood cell metaphor. But here's, here's another way to think about it. Imagine for a minute that you think your purpose is to maximize profits. Okay. So it's, you've, you let's say you're doing your orientation for your employees.
[00:35:38] John Mackey: Now you've got a new crop of employees, new crop of team members at whole foods, and it's like, Hey, so glad you decided to come work for whole foods. I went in and while you're here, your purpose is to maximize profits and get our stock price up as high as. Anybody have a problem with that, is that okay?
[00:35:53] John Mackey: That's what we're going to be doing. So whatever it takes, whatever it takes, how inspiring is that going to be to [00:36:00] people think they're going to go. It's like, oh boy, I can't, I love working for whole foods. They're just trying to make as much money as possible. Um, what she thinks is going to inspire people more that we're trying to nourish people in the planet.
[00:36:12] John Mackey: We're, we're literally trying to sell the healthiest food in the world and you're helping to do that. You're helping to sell food that from a higher degree of animal welfare, you're, you're helping, uh, we have our source for good program. When you're working for whole foods, you were working for a company that really does care about these things, and you're helping us to do more good in the world.
[00:36:31] John Mackey: That's far more magnetic it's it happens to be true. So I'm not saying that you should say these things that they're not true, cause they'll know if you're authentic or not, but if it's authentic and you mean those things and you walk the talk and you live it well, that inspires people, you're going to, people are going to work harder and do a better job.
[00:36:50] John Mackey: They're going to be more creative because they align with the mission and purpose. I've had many debates on this purpose question with people that think for purpose, business, maximize money. And they're almost never [00:37:00] people that are entrepreneurs, they're running a business they're intellectuals or their economists or there, or whatever.
[00:37:06] John's secret for finding happiness
[00:37:06] John Mackey: And I always say, you know, I wish I could compete against you because there's nothing easier than competing against a business that only cares about making money and you will lose in the long run. That's the paradox of it. And if you want to maximize long-term profits, don't aim for it. And I'll use a metaphor to prove my point or at least to give evidence for, if you believe the purpose of life is to be.
[00:37:30] John Mackey: You've made a huge categorical mistake. If you pursue happiness as your goal in life, I almost guarantee you, you will not find it because what happens when you pursue your own personal happiness is you're thinking about yourself primarily, and you're kind of in a narcissistic world, and that does not lead to happiness.
[00:37:51] John Mackey: What leads to happiness is love and caring about other people and having a purpose that makes a difference in the world [00:38:00] that, that, that you're creating value for other people, purpose and love. They lead to happiness. So when you make happiness, the primary goal, you've made a mistake and you will not find it.
[00:38:11] John Mackey: But if you are just striving to fulfill a higher purpose, and you're just trying to be loving and helping other people, then you will find happiness. It comes indirectly. It ensues when you don't directly pursue it. Well, that's the same way with. Ultimately your profits will come about better as a result of fulfilling a higher purpose, because you're going to then create the value for customers.
[00:38:35] John Mackey: And that will lead to more profits. If you aim and make profits, your primary goal, you will sub-optimize in the longterm.
[00:38:43] Hala: So I want to get into conscious culture, but first I did want to get a little bit more detail about the qualities of a conscious leader in terms of integrity, honesty, truth-telling authenticity, things like
[00:38:56] John Mackey: that.
[00:38:57] John Mackey: Yeah. Well, the first four chapters of the [00:39:00] book sort of, kind of sum it up. The first chapter is put purpose first and we talked about that. So I don't need to talk about anymore. The second one is lead with love and love is it's in the closet in corporate America. It's not talking about. It's a and by love, I don't mean romantic love.
[00:39:21] John Mackey: I mean, love in the sense of caring about other people being compassionate, thoughtful, kind, generous. And it's in the closet primarily because people think love is weak. That's the, they think they're war. The metaphors we use in business are all hyper-competitive metaphors. It's all this company, you know, it's, we've got to kill our competitors.
[00:39:41] John Mackey: We've got to, uh, let's roll. There's all these army war metaphors. Let's go to the war room and plot out our, our, our grand strategy here. Or they are a Darwinian metaphors. It's survival of the fittest. It's a jungle out there. Only the paranoid survive. Or [00:40:00] they are hyper competitive sports metaphors. And in typical sports, there's one winner and everybody else is a loser.
[00:40:06] John Mackey: So there's an obsession about winning, winning isn't, everything. Winning is the only thing. And so you, you get obsessed with winning, you get into assessing to feeding someone else. And these are the metaphors that generally we use to think about. There are other ones too there. Now you have a lot of tech metaphors, and, but the metaphor structure, our consciousness and the way we think about things, and most of the dominant metaphors are hyper-competitive metaphors.
[00:40:31] John Mackey: And when you're at war, there really is no place for love. Yeah. Or check all that wimpy love stuff at the door here. Cause we are going, we're going into battle and I need everybody right. I don't want, I don't want any love here. Forget that stuff. And so there's kind of a macho and there has been traditionally a macho boys culture, which it's about winning.
[00:40:53] John Mackey: It's about killing the other side. And so love is something you don't have in the workplace. It's something you do [00:41:00] outside the workplace. Now think about how I want to point out a few things. How inhuman is it or unhuman, is it to not be able to bring your whole self to the workplace? Just this narrow part of your being this, this competitive part of your being is what's allowed to be in there.
[00:41:16] John Mackey: And the rest is tough. You do with your friends, you do that with, at home, with your family, but say, you're basically dividing yourself into you're leaving the loving self at home and you're bringing the tough guy self to work. But more importantly, even than that is. Love is the glue that holds a company together.
[00:41:36] John Mackey: It's that's that unites the teams. It's why customers keep coming back because they feel appreciated. They feel like you care about them. And one reason, whole foods is such a good company to work for. And why we've was named 100 best comes over for free 20 consecutive years is if you get these two things, right, holla, I almost promise you you'll be successful in business.[00:42:00]
[00:42:00] John Mackey: The first one is purpose, because if you put purpose first are, you've got like your GPS going in the right direction. And if you lead with love, you're going to create such loyalty from the people that you work with from the people that you're serving with customers, your suppliers. When you take care of your suppliers, they, you become a, uh, a customer they like to deal with.
[00:42:23] John Mackey: So purpose and love. People never want to leave your organization. Why would it. They've got the two most important things in life at work, purpose and love. And those are the things people crave. We crave meaning, and we simultaneously crave. We want people to care about us. Of course, the secret to getting to people care about you is to care about them and you get back what you give.
[00:42:47] John Mackey: And if you're focused on just yourself, like your own personal happiness, you're not going to find it. So the third one, after those is integrity, integrity in everything you do, [00:43:00] it's hard to take a lifetime to build a reputation of integrity. And you can, you can pretty much destroy it in a single day with some acts that are, that have lack, integrity.
[00:43:11] John Mackey: And I would say in my experience in business in life, integrity is not, it's not extremely rare. I meet people all the time that I think have integrity, but I'll also say, I don't think it's that common. And integrity means a lot of things. First of all, of course it means truth-telling and let's face it by the time you're two years old, you've become a master at line.
[00:43:32] John Mackey: Anybody that's ever had, small children is amazed at how skillfully and quickly their children learn how to lie so they can and how they can fool their parents. So we have to learn how to tell the truth because it's the natural thing is basically to protect ourselves and to tell whatever's necessary to do that.
[00:43:50] John Mackey: And then authenticity, we generally, we crave authenticity, but, and the cancel culture world, oftentimes the authentic people are the ones that, you know, that say what they [00:44:00] really think and feel, and they get canceled. We say we want it, but when it shows up, we oftentimes are frightened of it and we seek to destroy it.
[00:44:08] John Mackey: But authenticity is one of the qualities of integrity, honesty, authenticity, trustworthy. When we, when you meet somebody that's truly, um, has integrity, you will find that you trust them because you know, they're going to deliver on what they say. You know, they're there, they're going to act in a right.
[00:44:29] John Mackey: They're going to try to do the right thing. And that therefore, the other quality of, of integrity is moral courage. You have to be willing to do the right thing in the circumstances, even if people may not like you, even if you may get shouted at, even if you may risk being canceled, if you have integrity, you will face that fear and you will do what is right regardless.
[00:44:51] John Mackey: And that is we, as the stakes get higher, integrity becomes rarer. Most people hide. They don't want to be heard they've done. So they they're willing [00:45:00] to hide their integrity in order, they don't have the moral courage and they don't take the risk. So integrity is very important. And it's one of the, it's one of the most.
[00:45:09] John Mackey: Virtues that we should cultivate. And by the way, purpose, love, integrity. These are qualities that you develop. You, you have to develop these within you. You have to practice them. These are practices. People say love is an emotion, John, actually, there's an emotional component to love. I mostly see love as a set of skills to be loving is not just to have a feeling it's to practice gratitude, generosity, kindness, care, compassion, forgiveness, and the more you practice them, the better you get at them.
[00:45:45] John Mackey: You get more skillful because we all know every day we aren't always loving and every instinct with everybody you encounter. And, but if we become aware that, oh, that was the kind of. Bad thing to say, I, Hey, I'm really sorry. I said that I was out of line or, [00:46:00] uh, oh gosh, it'd be more patient. I mean, I shouldn't, I shouldn't, I should be more patient and let people finish what they're saying.
[00:46:06] John Mackey: That's, that's what I'm always continuing to work on. So integrity is the same way. We, these are skills that we develop and the final thing I want to say on the conscious leadership, if we skip the culture, there's a lot more to the book. Obviously I am very, very high on our fourth chapter, which is fine.
[00:46:23] Why John believes the "business is war" metaphor is fundamentally wrong
[00:46:23] John Mackey: When, when, when solutions I'm a great believer in win-win win. And this is something that's not understood about business. Because we use these sports metaphors and in the sports metaphor, there's somebody that wins and somebody that loses there's for every winter, there's a loser. And people tend to think that that's the way businesses, winners take all and that everybody else has that, but that's not how business works.
[00:46:47] John Mackey: That is a fundamentally wrong metaphor. Business is really a win-win win game because you have all these stakeholders that are voluntarily trading with each other for mutual benefits and gain. When customers come in, they're both [00:47:00] winning. The whole company is winning and they're winning. They're.
[00:47:02] John Mackey: Nobody's forcing him to trade with us. They have competitive alternatives in the marketplace. They come in because they like our particular combination of quality selection, service on ambiance and prices, or they wouldn't trade with us. And. Most people don't trade with whole foods. We are 22 billion, but we got like a 3% market share of the United States.
[00:47:22] John Mackey: So 97% of the other grocery business is going somewhere else. So they do have plenty of alternatives in the marketplace. Every one of those stakeholders has benefiting when they trade. So businesses, the ultimate win-win win game, where customers are winning team members, employees are winning. Suppliers are winning.
[00:47:39] John Mackey: Investors are winning. And the community that we're all part of is winning because philanthropy comes out of the success of the business. Taxes comes out of the success of the business that funds government and non non-profits and government respectfully. So I put an F we don't naturally think win-win though.
[00:47:58] John Mackey: We don't think when, when, when we, and by the [00:48:00] third wind, by the way, good for you. Good for me. And good for the larger community that we're all part of. And that's a way a framework. That's a way to think about the world and it's a skill. And so. Whenever I'm making a decision. I always ask this important question.
[00:48:16] John Mackey: Does anybody losing here? And if somebody is losing, if one of the stakeholders is losing and it's probably not a good decision, I need to go back and be more imaginative. I need to look for the win-win win so that no one is actually losing that all the major stakeholders are winning. And then once you begin to think that way you give your mind permission to be creative in that direction.
[00:48:38] John Mackey: And it begins to come up with solutions that you didn't know were possible, because if you just refuse to not compromise on the first solution that comes to mind, if it's a bad solution, it ends up hurting people or hurting someone someone's losing. Business is inherently a win-win game, but we can do it in a different way where we, we [00:49:00] don't make trade-offs all the time where somebody else is gaining and someone else's losing.
[00:49:05] John Mackey: We need to try as best as possible to move away from that trade off mentality and ask the question. How do we make sure that all of us are winning together?
[00:49:14] Hala: Yeah. I love that advice because in business and negotiations, everybody always assumes that there's a winner and a loser, but there doesn't have to be,
[00:49:21] John Mackey: if it's a good negotiation, they're both winning.
[00:49:25] Hala: Okay, cool. So really quick, where can people go get conscious leadership? I want to make sure you're able to let everybody know. Well,
[00:49:31] John Mackey: hopefully if you went to one of our stores, you could get it there, but, uh, sometimes they don't have it. You can buy it. You certainly can buy it at Amazon. And, uh, I guess I'll recommend Amazon since I, they own whole foods.
[00:49:42] John Mackey: Uh, so, and, and you can, the easiest way to get it is if you have a Kendall is just to download it. And there's cheaper that way too. I read most, I read most of my books, all my.
[00:49:53] Hala: I listened to the audible version and I love that. So I definitely
[00:49:56] John Mackey: recommend the automatic and you know, there's a story there [00:50:00] that the guy that, um, that did that.
[00:50:03] John Mackey: Th th did the audible, did the voiceover I've listened to him. Um, his name's escaping rose, Michael, somebody or another. I forget his last name, but I've listened to a number of books where he was the reader. And I said, I love this guy. I actually bought a couple of books just to listen to him, read the book.
[00:50:18] John Mackey: So when I was talking to the publisher, they said, is there any writer or any, any reader you'd like, and I said, yeah, I want this guy. And they called him up and he did it. So I was very happy about that.
[00:50:29] Hala: Yeah, he's really good. I love the audible version. So make sure you guys go check that out. I love that book, lots of actionable advice on how you can become a conscious leader as well.
[00:50:38] Hala: So just really quick, I want to touch on conscious leadership because as we heard about whole foods is quite often ranked as a top place to work. And you do a couple of things that really prioritize employee is and help retain them. One of them is ending every meeting with appreciation. And another one that I heard is that you guys make salaries transparent across the company, or at least you [00:51:00] did at one point.
[00:51:00] Hala: So I'd love to kind of hear about the way that you make employees feel prioritized and the way that you've
[00:51:06] John Mackey: retained them. Well, I'll tell you holla. If, if you got nothing else out of this entire podcast book, this one thing you will transform your organization because whole foods, we end all our meetings with appreciation.
[00:51:20] John's #1 tip to transform your company culture
[00:51:20] John Mackey: And I promise you when you, that is a transformative technology. It's a very simple thing to do. We just set time aside at the end of the meetings to give it's voluntary, nobody has to appreciate, but when people give authentic appreciations, two wonderful things happen, one is you may not. Somebody gives you an a, I will give you an example.
[00:51:41] John Mackey: Uh, I recently, because I'm doing this farewell tour, it, I was touring in this region and after it was over, I got this email that from a guy that I was pretty sure it didn't like me. I just kind of never got a vibe from him. And he wrote me the most amazing letter. We just said how much he loved whole foods, [00:52:00] how much he loved me and how much a difference I've made in his life and how grateful he was.
[00:52:05] John Mackey: And it was like, I just felt fantastic. It's like, wow, I didn't even think he liked me. And here he is telling me that I'm and he was just oftentimes just kind of a little nervous or when he was around me, tongue tied a little bit. I intimidated him, I suppose. And so I felt. And so obviously that helps in any, in any kind of team situation, when you're, you may think somebody doesn't like you and then they appreciate you and you feel that it's authentic, you change your attitude towards them completely.
[00:52:31] John Mackey: Like I just did to that individual, but the real gain or an appreciation is this, whoever doing the appreciation, because when you do an authentic appreciation, intrinsically you're opening your heart to do. We make a D you got to make a distinction between an authentic appreciation and in a flattery flattery is when somebody is just saying something and they're manipulating you in a way they don't really mean it.
[00:52:54] John Mackey: They're saying it because they think you want to hear it. And we know the difference people can. Most of the time [00:53:00] we can tell the difference between somebody who's really authentically appreciating it. And who's somebody who's trying to flatter us. And so when we do the authentic appreciation, we, we, we have to open our hearts to do it.
[00:53:11] John Mackey: That is so good for us. Every time we express love to other people, we're like reinforcing a pattern in our psyche, the love pattern. So I, I always take advantage of the appreciations times at whole foods. I just look around the room and I'm thinking about who do I feel really good about right now?
[00:53:27] Hala: And you guys end every meeting that way.
[00:53:29] Hala: Like you give you say, like, give your appreciation. If you have any,
[00:53:33] John Mackey: I'll tell you a little secret. It took me years to get our board of directors to do it. After we did that and started doing it, the board of directors, I never had another board of director ever leave volunteer. They love coming to the board meetings.
[00:53:45] John Mackey: And that's part of the reason they love coming to the board meetings. There was this kind of, there's kind of a love in, and so it holds in our, in our leadership meetings, we actually had to cut off appreciations cause they were going on too long. It's like, we've got to do some work too. And
[00:54:00] so first we used to be unlimited appreciations and then it was, we went down to three and now it's you get one appreciation.
[00:54:06] John Mackey: So really make it count. So please try that. Anybody that's listening to this, I promise you, you will, once you do it, I've seen a lot of my friends and started doing it and then their companies and they come back, always come back and say, that was the greatest thing. I can't believe we waited so long to do it.
[00:54:22] Hala: I can't wait to implement that with my team. We do gratitude Fridays on slack, but this seems even more powerful because it's like, everybody's on the call. You can hear it. And it's just, you're just opening up space every time to increase that bond with, with everyone. So I love that.
[00:54:37] Making salaries public
[00:54:37] Hala: And let's talk about transparent, uh, salaries just really quick.
[00:54:40] Hala: And, and then I'll, I'll be letting you know.
[00:54:42] John Mackey: Yeah. That one's, that one's, it still exists at whole foods. But I implemented that many years ago, 30 years ago because people were, it's almost human nature to be envious of each other. And oftentimes there's also can be unfairness in the wages. So once you've [00:55:00] put a transparent system and everybody else knows it gets what they're getting paid.
[00:55:03] John Mackey: A couple of very good things come from that. One good thing is, is that you begin to see who the highest paid people. So it gives you career direction. It's like, well, I want to go the direction that the best is in, because look, she's like how much money she's making. And, uh, I want to be like Beth, because she's getting, you know, she's getting paid a lot of money.
[00:55:21] John Mackey: So it kind of, it helps direct people into the, and somebody else is like, well, you know, Tom has paid a lot less money than I thought. I, I don't, I don't want to go down that path. So it, it sort of gives career direction. And secondly, it also, if you're the team leader and you know, everybody's going to see what you're paying people, you better be able to justify it.
[00:55:41] John Mackey: You can't just play favorites. And if somebody confronts you, it's like, well, how come you're paying, uh, Larry that much money? And it's like, well, here's why I'm paying in that much money. 1, 2, 3, 4. If you do those things, Larry does, I'll pay you that much money. So it's recognizing that envy is sort of intrinsic to human nature.[00:56:00]
[00:56:00] John Mackey: And taking it head on and basically saying, okay, people are going to be envious, so let's go ahead and open it up, make it transparent, and we can get it out on the table and deal with it. And it also means you're probably not going to overpay somebody if you're going to get called on it. So you have to be able to justify it because you're going to, you may get asked about it.
[00:56:18] John's intentions for his next business
[00:56:18] Hala: So let's talk about your retirement. You are 43 years at whole foods.
[00:56:24] Hala: Now you're retiring. Do you have anything that you want to say about your retirement and your plans for the future?
[00:56:29] John Mackey: Well, um, it'd be 44 years when I retire. Uh, September 1st I gave notice about it almost gave a year's notice, gives me a last farewell tour, allows my replacement again. You know what it is, hopefully it gets used to the idea of me not being there anymore.
[00:56:45] John Mackey: And frankly, it gives me a chance to get used to the idea of not being there. Yeah. I'll take more time off in our retirement. Honestly. I'm not going to, I'm just going to do a teaser on this one. I'm not going to tell you exactly what I'm doing, but I going to start another business and it will be in the wellness.
[00:56:59] John Mackey: [00:57:00] Category. Yeah, I'm very excited about it. And, uh, I've got a lot of my retired executives from whole foods that built, I built the company with or partnering up with me on it. So I'm kinda bringing the old band back together. Yeah. So you'll hear about it. And you'll remember we talked that I teased it out, but I didn't give any details.
[00:57:16] John Mackey: So, but I say in a year or so, that'd be pretty much in the public domain.
[00:57:20] Hala: Cool. So we'll look out for that. So we always close the interview with the same questions. What is one piece of actionable advice that my listeners can do today to become more profitable tomorrow,
[00:57:32] John Mackey: Nothing I could tell you would make your business more profitable tomorrow. Cause most of it'll take a little time for it to develop it in the spirit of what I think you asked that question. What can I tell your listeners that will help their business become more successful and profitable?
[00:57:45] John Mackey: I would say, think about how you can create more value for your customers. No one is forced to trade with you. They trade with you because they are getting something from the exchange. So how can you create more value for your customers? [00:58:00] You should ask that question every single day.
[00:58:02] John Mackey: Ask that question constantly. How can I create more value? And you know what, if you start asking the question, you'll start seeing ways that you can create more value and that will lead to more profits.
[00:58:12] Hala: Love that. And what is your secret to profiting in life? And this can be beyond just financial. What is your secret to profiting in life?
[00:58:19] John Mackey: Follow your heart. Most people are too afraid to do it and they get off. They get sidetracked into something that doesn't lead to happiness, follow your heart, wherever God, wherever it leads you. And I mean by heart, I mean your passions, your purpose, the inner voice that's within each of us. Follow that inner voice trusted.
[00:58:37] John Mackey: Don't let fear hold you back. If you do, you'll have a licensed venture, you should go for it.
[00:58:44] Hala: Oh, I love that. Super powerful, short and sweet. And where can our listeners go to learn more about you and everything that you do,
[00:58:49] John Mackey: John? Um, you probably can't, I'm not on any social media yet. Other I'm thinking about adding that on now that I'm getting, I can't be on social media because of the whole [00:59:00] foods stuff.
[00:59:00] John Mackey: It's very difficult. People are, um, I, I got on LinkedIn for one day and I had thousands of people. I'm going to be putting my toe into social media in the next few months. So you'll, you'll probably see me. I'll I'll, I'll get in there and we'll manage it intelligently. Maybe I'll have her contact you.
[00:59:18] Hala: Yes.
[00:59:18] Hala: We're going to stick all of your links in the show notes. So people know where to get your book thank you so much for your time today. It was a pleasure. Thank you for unpacking your wisdom.
[00:59:27] John Mackey: Good day. Bye-bye.
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