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Presentation and Q&A with Whole Foods founder, John Mackey

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Intriguing insight into Conscious Capitalism

  • Jul 1, 2009
  • by
I'm not a particular fan of Whole Foods nor John Mackey (possibly because we seem to drop an ungodly amount of money there every week), but I found his presentation to be full of insightful observations and predictions about the future of business. He correctly identifies many of the weaknesses of existing business models (ie. business as a machine to maximize profits) and think management should be a skill of organizing competing ideas. 

Mackey talks about the impact of healthy foods, but recognizes the positive effects of mass food production, reducing the average family's food expenditure from 50% in the past to around 10% today. At the same time, he believes that one of the great public discoveries to come is just how badly we treat livestock in America today ("truly disgraceful"). 

Some great gems: 
- Most businesses do a terrible job at customer service. "Put your customer service first always, and I guarantee your business will flourish." And "paradoxically, if you put your investors first you probably won't give them the return they would like". 
- Salary openness (and salary cap @19x pay, which has increased to fight competitors). Fully-paid health insurance, where benefits are the same for every employee. 
- You can beat the stock indexes by buying the Fortune 100 companies - would have doubled return in last 10 years. 
- Doesn't like Walmart's mentality of beating up suppliers - vendors must be allowed to thrive. 

The ultimate message is that business has a deeper purpose beyond maximizing profits, and must maximize value for every stakeholder (employees, vendors, customers, community, etc.). Conscious capitalism is the ecosystem created by these businesses interacting and he foresees that this will be the dominant business environment of the 21st century. 

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this audio-book (an excellent alternative to radio in the car). Although Mr Mackey's optimism and vision is not practiced by the majority of companies out there, he clearly states the case for improving the capitalist ecosystem that will pay dividends for shareholders, suppliers, employees and customers alike.

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James Beswick ()
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 Product Description
Conventional wisdom said a natural food store could never compete with the big supermarkets, but today Whole Foods Market is a thriving multi-billion dollar success with more than 270 locations. Pioneering CEO John Mackey has rewritten the rules for how companies can flourish in today's marketplace and serve a higher purpose in the world. With Passion and Purpose, he shares his philosophy of "conscious capitalism"--a revolutionary mission-driven business model that unifies profitability with integrity, compassion, and global responsibility. Listeners join Mackey as he explores: * The "stakeholder" philosophy: how a company can benefit shareholders, employees, vendors, customers, and the environment without compromising its financial viability * How much should executives be compensated? Should all salaries be known to all employees? Mackey tackles the most controversial questions about his principles * Finding a place for philanthropy, passion, idealism, and love in a competitive economy, and more. If you hear the word "capitalism" and immediately think of "greed," John Mackey has news for you: it doesn't have to be that way. With Passion and Purpose, the architect of one of the most inspiring stories in modern business invites listeners to join him in reclaiming capitalism--to change it from a system of avarice to a force for good. 

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John Mackey opened his first market in 1978 with a ...
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