John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, was a keynote speaker at APICS 2017.   Of course, we were all interested because of the recent acquisition by Amazon and what it means for the grocery business.  What is telling is that John Mackey still works at Whole Foods and thought it made sense to partner with Amazon.   He stopped taking a salary more than $1 in 2006 and sold his business earlier this year, and so he certainly doesn’t have to work! 

John is passionate about conscious capitalism which also happens to be the title of his book – Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business .  He argues that both business and capitalism are inherently good and used some examples such as Southwest Airlines.  He said that business is about the real lives of real people.  A few of the tenants of conscious capitalism include:

  1. Instead of profit maximization, he sees purpose maximization.  Thinking about higher purpose can yield interesting results.
  2. Stakeholder integration – I see this as focusing the extended team on purpose maximization.
  3. Conscious leaders – it all starts with leadership!
  4. Conscious culture – since culture is the set of beliefs that governs behavior, a conscious culture is bedrock to ensuring success.

John is interested in creating strong businesses, moving capitalism closer to its higher potential and fostering a positive environment for all….a noble purpose.  Perhaps we should pay attention and consider themes that might be valuable.  After all, he grew Whole Foods from scratch to $16 billion!

© Lisa Anderson