In a recent sit-down with Reason, Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey warned that “a lot of the liberties that I’ve taken for granted most of my life, I think, are under threat.” Mackey said that his concern “is that I feel like socialists are taking over.” Long-time editor of Reason, Nick Gillespie writes of his conversation with Mackey:
At the end of August, Mackey, born in 1953, is retiring from Whole Foods. Throughout his career, John has developed and evangelized for what he calls “conscious capitalism,” or businesses that seek to “create financial, intellectual, social, cultural, emotional, spiritual, physical, and ecological wealth for all of their stakeholders.” That may sound a bit hippy-dippy to you, but John is one of the most hardcore capitalists I’ve ever met, yet also an incredibly spiritual and thoughtful guy who wants to help all of us live better, more interesting lives.
That comes through loud and clear in his epic 2005 debate with Nobel laureate Milton Freidman and former Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers about rethinking the social responsibility of business. “I believe that the enlightened corporation should try to create value for all of its constituencies,” wrote John. “From an investor’s perspective, the purpose of the business is to maximize profits. But that’s not the purpose for other stakeholders—for customers, employees, suppliers, and the community. Each of those groups will define the purpose of the business in terms of its own needs and desires, and each perspective is valid and legitimate.” In many profound ways, John’s vision is now widely accepted, partly because he’s speaking to a post-industrial world that is rich enough that more and more of us are starting to bump our snouts further up Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Even in the developing world, more and more of us are trying to figure out how we can flourish rather than just subsist.
I caught up with John at FreedomFest, the annual gathering in Las Vegas, and we talked about his time at Whole Foods, how his company did an exceptional job of staying open and serving people during COVID, what he thought about the government’s response to the pandemic, and a whole lot more. We also, of course, talked about what he’s going to do once he’s retired.
You can listen to Gillespie’s discussion with Mackey here.
You’ve read about Mackey’s views on capitalism on YourSurvivalGuy.com before. Mackey’s focus on the difference a business can make in society is an easy-to-recognize theme for many of my clients who are small business owners in local communities. They know that they make a big difference when they sponsor the local sports teams or make a donation to the Lions Club or the local church. But it’s not just their donations that make a difference. Mackey’s point is that just being in business and doing a good job for your customer helps both the customer and you, and therefore your community.
Action Line: On Main Streets in small towns, small business owners are the epitome of America. If you’re looking for more of that small town feeling, find a better America in one of my Super States. I want to hear the story of how a Main Street business made your town a better place. Send me your stories here. Until then, click here to hear my story in my free monthly Survive & Thrive letter, where I work hard to increase your family’s personal and financial security for the future.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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