Gustavo Ballvé on January 25th, 2010
Corporate Strategy, Food for thought, Home, Industries, Retailing

John Mackey, the CEO of high-end grocery chain Whole Foods Corp., was recently profiled in the New Yorker magazine. Habits and idiosyncrasies aside – he is known for putting his “personal foot in his professional mouth” – the guy is not what one would expect: he’s a libertarian capitalist at heart and digs Ayn Rand. “Right-wing hippie” was the not-so-great label the New Yorker writer came up with. Very importantly, it goes to show that “doing the right thing” as a corporation and earning profits – the more, the better – are far from incompatible.

One excerpt we feel is important to highlight:

‘We’re trying to do good. And we’re trying to make money. The more money we make, the more good we can do.’ – By this, he (John Mackey) had in mind not the traditional philanthropic argument that more money earned equals more to give away but, rather, that a good company–that is, his company–which sells good things and treats its employees, shareholders, customers, and suppliers well, can spread goodness simply by thriving. “

This “special bonus” is from Mr. Mackey’s editorial on health care in the Wall Street Journal (link below). It’s how he starts the piece and it’s a sentence by Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s former prime minister: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”


The Whole Foods alternative to ObamaCare – WSJ, Aug. 11th 2009 – The controversial op-ed on the Wall Street Journal about healthcare in the US. By stating that health care is no more of an intrinsic right than are food or shelter, Mr. Mackey made a lot of his “target customers” mad. This mix of personal and professional has led even Warren Buffett to shy away from personal views on issues with potential for backlash. One would think that Whole Foods has credit due to its long history of treating employees and suppliers well – as long as this last group complies with standards that ultimately raise the bar.

Did he jump or was he pushed? – John Mackey steps down as Chairman of Whole Foods – The Tree, Dec. 31st 2009

John Mackey doesn’t believe in climate change – The Huffington Post, Jan. 3rd 2010 – Almost funny in the way it chronicles Mr. Mackey’s fall-outs with Whole Foods’ “target customer” over his personal opinions. This particular blogger has had enough because of his environmental views.

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