« Freakonomics Radio

438. How to Succeed by Being Authentic (Hint: Carefully)

2020-11-04 | 🔗

John Mackey, the C.E.O. of Whole Foods, has learned the perils of speaking his mind. But he still says what he thinks about everything from “conscious leadership” to the behavioral roots of the obesity epidemic. He also argues for a style of capitalism and politics that at this moment seems like a fantasy. What does he know that we don’t?

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So you are, as I understand, a staunch, very Terry, and whose also a staunch libertarian, I don't think that's a big club that cross over I didn't need somebody a few years ago. That said they were both totally alone. John Maggie CO, founder and ceo of the whole food supermarket chain seems to be comfortable with contradiction, or at least what may look like contradiction to the rest of us. He is a sixty seven year old vision and daily meditate, her, who also lionize is free market icons, Lake Milton Friedman, I'm rand. He speaks out against factory farming he's also called climate change. Perfectly natural and not necessarily bad a new Yorker profile of Mackey once declared that he quote can't help speak his mind out of which spring confounding ideas and convince Intentionally irreconcilable contradictions
I just show up an authentic way everywhere. I am, I think, that's the best strategy in life. Did it take you. While to show up always as your authentic self. Of course, it's the skill you have to practice authenticity. It's your natural until wise, little wise. We learn di symbol at a very young age, we are so very much afraid of disapproval from others. It's really obvious today, because there is a fear of being cancelled. If you say that thing, get a twitter mob after you and the next thing you know you might lose your job, so people began to pretend, to be something there, not because people were scared so being authentic. Is this certainly an easy thing to do, and I try to be authentic and cheerful, meaning, content. Who am I talking to some still being authentic? not assembling or misrepresenting myself, but then again, I'm not saying absolutely everything, I'm thinking. Every second, so authentic, but careful, sounds to me like a razor's edge.
It is a razor search. You have to be very conscious, Justice is John Lackeys watchword these days. Some years back, he wrote a book called conscious. Capitalism, which argues that profits and purpose should be fully compatible. Mackey follow up look published. This fall old, conscious leadership. Today, unforgettable radio, we see that the razor's edge can get very sharp, very fast Stephen, I really don't like with a synergy, is now going and comes to leadership today. Make sees a glaring paradox. America desperately needs heroes to show the way, but the here does it show up, are attack Mackey himself, of has been on the receiving end of several attacks. Everytime you, the scar, you try not to do the same stupid thing again. Our conversation with John Mackey coming up right. After this,
I'm happy from stature and projections. This is Freakonomics radio. The podcast explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your home Stephen Definite. In eighteen, seventy eight john- he borrowed forty five thousand dollars from family and friends to open a healthy food store with his then Girlfriend Torreon House in Austin Texas. He was a college drop out with no real business experience, but he did have access to four five thousand dollars Andy. He had an evangelical zeal for natural foods. This coin
cited nicely with the rising trend in healthier eating fast forward about for decades and whole foods was publicly on corporation about five hundred stores in North America and the UK, but its stock price was falling. Big mainstream grocers, like Kroger, were cutting in on their organic and natural turf stores like trader Joe's and sprouts we're appealing to similar demographics as whole foods, but with lower prices in two thousand. Seventeen an activist hedge fund, called John Partners, bought a big chunk of whole food stock and pushed it to generate more profit. John Mackey, in a burst of typical authenticity, called the hedge fund greedy they they plainly weren't the kind of people Mackey had mind when he talked about conscious capitalism. Soon after came, and even more surprising state of consciousness when whole foods was bought,
amazon dot com for more than thirteen. Billion dollars, it was the largest acquisition to date for the so called everything store. When I have you John Mackey, in early October, I began by asking how his job had changed since the Amazon purchase cover has changed everything, but I am still pretty involved, Socio still pale attention offered. You stole my life Where are you by the way? Are you still in Austin? I am in Austin Texas, in our corporate headquarters, with about fifty people total out of a thousand could be here. What's that, like I get a good parking space every day, I'd like to think you had pretty good parking before hull foods. First come first served knows a sharper will get out of here. Really, of course, why would you do it any other way? If you want to create solidarity. People get there early to get the good parking spaces. Airfare if the pandemic, it happened. A few years earlier or
The Amazon sale had not already gone through. Whole foods might have taken a bigger hit than they have, but the Amazon partnership meant that whole foods are. Geared up for online ordering and delivery. This has protect Did it better than many other businesses that are suffering this be clearer? Twenty, twenty, a terrible year and make no mistake about a whole food, has not been hit the same way. Those businesses have been hit, but it still been very difficult for us. We closed down our fresh food bar. Our salad, bars or hot bars. Shut down are prepared. Foods, which is a big part of our sales, fell. Seventy five percent, initially trying to balance productivity and safety whole foods also had some friction with their workforce in March. Some employees These held a one day, sick out, pushing for better sick pay and healthcare coverage, especially for part time. Workers. Health who has responded by temporarily raising wages. So it's been very.
Challenging and we have had people get sick to members. Your second without a few people die. So it's a tragedy is a terrible thing. Slowly. Coming back a while a long time before we get it back to where it was pre covered. We saw our perishable foods. Like me, seafood produce jerry, those all went up or lot tremendous because restaurants mostly were closed down, and did you have supply chain problems or were you able to repurpose from the restaurant supply chain? We have chain problems because the staff it goes in the restaurant, slide chains are usually not usable by consumers because of packaging, word because it's size, yeah size, take toilet paper, toilet paper such an interesting thing, because studies show that on average, Americans do about half of their bathroom work. Not at home. And then all of a sudden he was about a hundred percent in the history of corporate acquisitions
is not necessarily a history of parallel joy between the acquirer and the acquire, and often people who have founded firms. That's not an easy fit necessarily once there's an absorption, I'm curious how that's been for you. One way to think about it is whole foods have done. Twenty three acquisitions ourself I understand well what you're, looking for with a company that's coming in, and mostly you're looking for the acquired company to The excited to be part of the large refer to start talking, The way language instead of the US them language to figure out The acquiring company, wants and then try to make sure they help give a tomb? I also know what it's like to be: on the other side. I know what the acquired company was They mostly want to be respected. They want to feel that they're valuable and that they are not
farrier, there's a strong sense of inferiority there's, almost an attitude that can happen of The acquiring company is like well were better than you because we acquired you and they acquire companies. Thinking like we must not be as good as them, because they acquired as yet to be sensitive to that. When you're the choir were anyone you, the inquiry in this case the acquirer one one of the best known companies on the planet and new new boss, Jeff, was was known for being at least as particular and driven as hasn't hasn't been big as switch as people I think people was asked me how's it like to have a boss and that completely Miss Saunders the way most corporations operate. I mean I've always had a boss. I always reported to the board of directors at home. People have this wrong stereotypes. The ceo was like a god or something the medium. A big deal lot of views
the power and acting like the big shot and that's just never been my style and I always try to be a servant leader, I'm serving the higher purpose, the company and the stakeholders in this the things I had to get clear with Amazon before we merged? I had to get clear about our and our core values and our mission we going to try to integrate those. Are you going to leave that alone? No, they weren't going to try to change that. What about our culture? Are you going to try to assume await us in the Amazon. We will lose our identity. No, we don't want to do that so far. It has changed and evolved to be sure, but in a respectful way I was analogy when you get married. Do you change hopefully in the answer is because if you don't change again get a divorce. So whole is changing not because Amazon's cramming a bunch of things down our throat, but because they do lot, the things that we want to take in you've said in the past that whole
foods ran more by intuition and gotten Amazon more by Empiricism in data. Obviously, there are elements of both with you're very, very good, and there can be a case where, if you over rely on either that could be bad. I'm curious if there's anything significant that you learned from Amazon operations that you may be wished. She would know nor believed in twenty or thirty years ago. Absolute, I need a trivial example. Every retail food business has it's call, shrink and shrink can mean spoilage. Maybe it's employee theft, maybe it's shop lifting, maybe you're gettin shaded by our suppliers in some way, but there's always unexpected losses that you can't fully account for and one of the things Amazon early on did is they said we need to track all of the shrink and we need to compare stores
so that we can get the data that we need to see where the problems are, so we can get better at seems kind of obvious does, for we didn't do that. We kind of tractors, boilers but not innocent, way and we didn't do comparisons between stores, and why didn't you do it? Well, we just figured that you're, always gonna houses, spoilage and it's the cost of doing business and the aid. that you could reduce this cost, seems rather obvious, but we didn't work at it in the systematic fashion. So now we are not Now that we pay more attention to reducing our shrink pretty much in all those areas. Reducing shrink is, of course, one way to drive down costs and driving down. Costs is a basic tenet of the Amazon Business Model and now the whole foods model too This has meant lower prices at whole. Foods which has been well received by customers, especially those who used to be scared off by the whole paycheck nickname other changes.
Have been less well received. A new dress code, for instance, which forbids all foods, employees from wearing clothing with any sort of slogan or flag whole foods, used to be the kind of place where employees let their freak flax lie it's based in Austin. For goodness sake, and John Mackey himself had always seem to champion individuality and the self awareness that comes with it. So It was a passage from conscious leadership as particularly taken with you right when I look at whole foods market. I see my strength well represented, but the organisation also mirrors back to me my weaknesses. For example, I tend to be very creative person. Who's good at coming up with innovative solutions and new ideas. The shadow side of that strength, however, that I frequently don't pay enough attention to the details. So I'm curious
whether you have advice for the average person who sees that they have a set of things. I do really well in another set of pre important things that they don't do well do you know, worry about those things. You don't do well and find other people to do them. Do you really work on those weaker parts of yourself? I think the answer is both. not either or, however part of self awareness, is just being cautious, the things that you really good at things that you're not good at an building a team, mean hiring people were promoting people, like yourself, because the team needs to have a diverse portfolios skills we talk a lot What about the importance that diversity, but were putting that the context: a diversity of ethnicity or gender, gender, sexual preferences or whatever, but from a team standpoint. What you're really looking for is diversity of skill sets.
And because I am more self aware than many leaders. I recognized that I'm not good at thanks. I need to make sure the people, but have those skills and talents rounded, because they compensate for my weaknesses. Can we talk a bit more about and that notion of drivers city, because what you said strikes me as something that I think a lot of people understand, but never talk about, which is most of the moves that people make toward diversity. These days are based on diversity of what economists call me observables the characteristics that are easily seen and, as you said, you can kind of sort people, whether it's ethnicity, did he gender, etc etc. But the announced the rebels are, I think, hugely important and harder to cast. For so that's differ, city of political or religious or philosophical ways of thinking, so assuming you do want to build an organisation that has full diversity, not just people don't I'll look alike and so on, but people actually think differently,
oh, do you do that? You know, Austria, that such a great question first, I want to say how tricky it is to do that. You gotta think of it, firstly, in terms of being a polarity need diversity, but you also need nobody. You need similarities, because what say you hadn't but diversity and language where you can communicate with each other right. If you have to solidarity, though, we have group think the team needs diversity in the right ways and it's not, as you say, the superficial ways, more diverse its diversity and thinking in social intelligence, spiritual inside creativity. I would think that the opportunity cost of not casting for that holistic diversity is pretty huge. And yet I don't hear a lot of firms or institutions talk much at least about pursuing it,
I agree with that and what many people tend to do is hire people that they're most comfortable with people like themselves because they're insecure they lack confidence. They refer. aid to promote somebody smarter now, because maybe it'll take their job, so they tend to promote to feel safe. But then, if you do that you're gonna sub optimize, eventually your problem, He pushed out as the team leader so whole foods practices, wage transparency which, as I understand, and it pretty much. Everybody within the firm can know what everybody else is making assuming works well, why don't more firms do that? I think there's tourism firms, don't do it the first whenever they have something to hide the sex. The reason is simple envy. They believe that this is going to Stoke envy, so it's better to try to keep it hidden. I believe and it can be a problem, but I think about it differently.
When you reveal the pay structure very transport First of all, sometimes things aren't just, and people will complain about it, and that gives you an opportunity to correct it at other times, though, it is correct and you can defend it and then your pointing out a people what the organization most values rewards and it gives people something this, try for while I had no idea that a coordinator could get paid I want to be a coordinator or I really want to be a store team leader, because I had no idea that colluding. There are issues that restrict stockings. Think if man is not, I mean they may make an well over a hundred thousand dollars and economical, agree that something to aspire to John a key speaks with some degree of experience here and that he didn't complete college and he is now worth more than seventy five million dollars it likely could have been a lot more sense to those.
Seven he's taken a one dollar salary and no bonus or stop rinse. We should know that Mackey came from a family. The knew how to make money. His father bill wasn Counting professor who, when John was a teenager, became ceo of a healthcare company that, in the nineteen eighties, was bought for nearly a billion dollars. Bill. Mackey was also one of the original investors in whole foods. When John Mackey opened that first health food store in the victorian House, He chose to not sell the kind of foods that he doesn't need. Sugary or processed foods, meet poultry or see food, even coffee, but that didn't work out so well. After couple years he gave in and expand its offerings. It was a trade off he was willing to accept by widening the options he could make natural and organic food available to more people. It is
kind of trade off. Every business has to consider at some point, but Mackey thinks that modern capitalism accepts far too many trade. He likes to embrace a different model good for you good for me good for all of us. It's called the win win win model, that is a philosophy. Interest from our world, think about win, win, win and ask herself. Is that not the complete ethical system, but most businesses, Mackey, says don't think win win win the matter, also, we used to think about business, are hyper competitive models and, in general, people in America think in terms of win lose they think in terms somebody's gain if somebody's loss and why is this the default model? I think a likely explanation, it is that we have lost his tribal animals and we identify with our tribe and what's not our tribe, we should kill, and so part of the human journey has been expanding our tribe and making a bigger allowed. The poles
should say in the United States. Is tribal group differences We can be very socialistic families in our tribe. But when we get outside of that, we're not quite as generous and is compassionate and caring in his books, Mackey discusses managing personnel from a win win win perspective. This isn't easy, as he writes quote, people do far better with positive feedback, praise and appreciation, so that should be the emphasis, but we're not also giving the necessary tough but constructive feedback, then we'll be doing a disservice. To our team and to the team members to John, I think just about everyone struggles with this, whether you an employer or apparent were a teacher. What's your best base for delivering the useful criticism without you know, breaking a spirit or discouraging people. In my experience, criticism only be received by people,
There's a high degree of trust. If there's trust mt people know that you care about them. Then their selfish aim is less threatened because self esteem, not usually very high with most people, you have to be. Very sensitive to the criticisms when I for our stores, because I am the founder, the ceo, I have a lot. Than the impact impact on team members. They my daddy to really loved the store and they don't want criticism. I notice. So what I do is I gifts, nothing but praise one in the store, and if I see some problems, I might tell store team later kind of like one on one, but I tried and not offer criticisms when I'm there, because they're just two powerful, I can give Ten compliments, but the one criticism devastates the morale and asking
because they don't know me well enough to know they can trust me if you're apparent so many parents, mostly their correct their children all the time. What do they do that and even though the child may feel its loved the child experiences, the parent, usually criticising them. That's very unfortunate because that makes the child less secure afraid to interact with the parent. I mean I remember when I was growing up, for example, bring it in a report card, one time they all a's and one b, and I was really proud of It- my father set for fishermen, b, and that was devastating because I thought he'd be proud of me. Had you respond to that in the with a short run, the short run? I was first heard and then I was angry. It's like never make him happy and not inspired to say gosh darn, it dead great I gotta get rid of that be no. I think. That's because I experienced to mostly criticising me,
here was a time I thought maybe be different. I get press if my always praised me, and I felt that unconditional love all the time and if he came in and said what are we gonna do be. I would have responded very differently. I would have responded, like you know what that I'm gonna take her. That be believe me. So no, you haven't really given me any actionable advice for delivering the criticism better other than I'm building up to it all right. I've, given you the most important thing gain trust, which is a long process. It is a long process. We should be very judicious in our criticism. an idea I took away from CAN Blanchard one minute manager, which I guess dates makers at books maiden print anymore, You should get people doing something right, so I we believe in positive reinforcement then if you do enough positive reinforcement, people are going to be in a place where they can receive through critical feedback, and that gives you permission to give negative feedback. That's actionable. We just need to be careful about it and, if you
do it. You're gonna be the type of leader that people avoid coming up after the break being a leader that people dont avoid is one thing. Avoiding controversy is another its thing Mackey had trouble with. I think I'm a particularly interesting target for people. One quick thing: first, though we are working working on an episode about child car seats and would like to hear about your experiences with them. Good bad. Some uprising, send a voice memo with your story to radio at Freakonomics COM, please include your name and where you live also, please join. The thousands of people have already said subscribed to the new shows we recently added to the free economics, radio network people. I mostly admire with Steve Levitt and no stupid questions with Angela Duckworth and me my name is Stephen Governor, we'll be back with
radio and whole food CEO, John Mackey, right after this It is a question I want to ask you for a long time and it has to do with the phenomenon known as the tall poppy syndrome. You ever heard that phrase, of course, absolutely the first time I heard the phrase it would something along the lines of its the tall poppy in the field. It gets cut down, don't get above your raising, but anybody who accomplishes becomes a target. Obviously it strikes me that you might get praise for the million things you do well or right, but that you got a lot more attention for things that are perceived as mistakes and people are much more likely to come after you when you acquired a status were stature as you have,
so I want to ask you about that in context of founding in running whole foods, in some of the things that you have done and said that do irritate people and I'm really there is to know how that tall pop syndrome- has affected the way you move through life? Has made? You wary? Is that what drove you to work on your own consciousness and I want to deal with that I have a lot of younger entrepreneurs asked me this type of question, because what happens? If you begin to first succeed in pretty much anything as you stoke envy and the tall poppy syndrome, we're really talking about envy and the people that achieve the most actually help humanity. The most When the paradox is about the United States. Is we idolize celebrity and yet At the same time, we love to see those celebrities fall from grace. We love to see, as you say, the tall poppy get chopped down
a kind of reassures people that even striving for that type of successes are worth it because liquid happens, it helps people feel better. Themselves. I mean at an early age. To be honest, I felt a lot of envy towards myself. I would be a teacher's, in school and I get deed up after school, because people were envious of me, so I start to be kind of a smart ass and that's actually carried over I adult life or I'm a bit of a smart ass, so you have to learn to deal with envy, but I feel like I'm in the sweet spot in life, I have a little bit of celebrity, but I'm so I'm recognised out there bodyguards. I don't have to hide out it's perfect. I all. Let me take you out of your sweet spot for in your career of the less that say, fifteen or twenty years there have been a series of incidents are proclamations. They get some people.
Really upset. In one case, you engaged in some online sock, puppetry right Europe praising whole foods now. Is that not the case that completely incorrect narrative? You tell me the correct version, the correct version was that I post. But on a screen name on Yahoo. For about eight years, everybody took a screen name. So I wasn't to hide my true identity if you read all of those postings which were about fourteen hundred, I mostly wisdom, ending whole food. It was something I did for fun in short on there, and I would defend whole foods against your criticism. We should just say: shorter people rebelling against the company, bet it against the stock and remember I'm not doing that is drawn back. You see your office mark, I'm doing it and your screen name called Rocco Derek Rocco Derek, is an anagram of Deborah. The name of MAC Ease, longtime wife
under this screen. Name Mackey championed whole food stock sometime, at the expense of arrival health food, Jean called wild Oats. That's right, I did criticise Wilder's about six times in an eight year period. Whole foods when onto by wild, hurts the detail of Mackie's online activity emerge in a court document filed by lawyers for the Federal Trade Commission, which was trying to prevent whole foods from buying wild It's out of concern. The natural food market was becoming anti competitive. It ridiculous story because nobody name raw who dared to move the stock of anybody, and criticisms I offered were so few and far between and I'd say they were accurate criticisms. But this idea that John Mackey ran down the stock price, always who's goodbye it cheaper, is completely a false narrative. I guess the component that struck me is disingenuous is, if I'm, let's say the board
whole foods, and my ceo is going to go defend us. I wanted to do it under his name. I just saw his play. It's something I did for fun. I like to debate, I'm a debater. I debate actually several times a year in a formal way, it's hard for people to see, because I think of ceos as the super serious people. It's all about play. I was just way like a little boy in doing it in an innocent way, nobody was getting hurt, but it stuck to you to Europe, station. Where did I learned I am less. Does it bother you to this day that it stuck to you not that you did it necessarily, but that it put a mark against you Does it bother me, I can't do anything about it, so it's kind of life as you get older, scars on my body I got up. I gave you but you know what every time you get a scar, you try not to do the same stupid thing again, so I learned a valuable lesson from that, which is, I can't escape, who I
even when I'm just pretending to be somebody else, because Israel give it being found out so that brought more integrity, pretty much everything I do. I just assume everything I do and say is going to be public. So that's made me more cheerful. So no, I never posted on on another bulletin board since then a a couple things You said in subsequent years talking about labour unions, you compare them to Herpes, you set, it doesn't, kill you, but it's unpleasant an inconvenient and then talking about Obama care, you acquainted in some degrees to fascism as a kind of top down requirement. That's not for the greater good. Stephen. I really don't like where this is now going. I don't want to defend all the things that I said twenty years ago thirty years ago, forty years ago, because us a very small part of my life- and these are scars. If you want to talk about,
The lessons I might have learned from those things: I've just one, to not be quite as outspoken in the world? That's the biggest thing I've learned, so I appreciate that act. What I did want to ask was in this still it in the context of this tall poppy question. How disturbing or upsetting is it when people get so upset about your expressing an opinion that if you weren't the tall poppy would pass unnoticed However, when you the ceo of something like whole foods, they become the headline, and Everything else that you've done to build the firm seems to take a back seat. Well, it's like I've been doing this for forty two year. The Hermes comment was made thirty years ago that stuck it only start because it kept getting repeated again. I know this is gonna somewhere, but it was play. I was taking a joke when I think back on it. That was an unfortunate thing. I said it was meant to be funny
we now live in a time where we're judged by every little mistake we might have made in our lives: hey, listen. I've made plenty of mistakes. That was a mistake. I regret that I wish I could say that didn't mean to harm anyone. I meant to amuse people and now It's a scar, but in terms of the fact that the mistakes stick so hard in this goes back to what you are referring to earlier about the number of compliments you need to give in order to help cushion the blow from one critique. There's this line of research, called the power of bad measures, just how influential bad news is for most people and how good news will often go unappreciated. Having experienced your success, which is massive with these scars, as you put it, to kind of count against you on the their side of the ledger, what is I say to you about just the way that we think about our society and six
and so on, because it seems that we often make it really hard for people to build things and to prosper, because we like to pay attention to the occasional mistakes that they make an amplify them. So very good question. I can see where you're going and think it's a good path to take. I think I'm a particularly interesting target for people, because whole foods and myself had proclaimed we should be eating a healthier way. Seventy one percent of America's overweight and forty two and a half percent are obese. Clearly will make bad choices and weary. It's not a sustainable path so I'm calling it out, but because I'm a tall poppy and some people take it as a personal, they want to attack back, it comes
Would the territory, if you're going to be the tall poppy than people are going to look for how you're not perfect and they're going to monetary down a lot of wealthy people just basically they just hide out there not come and honour gas shows they're, not in the newspaper not do in interviews. They are joining their wealth and anonymity. What do you think is the opportunity cost of this fervour we seem to have for cutting down the tall poppies. I would have to think that there are a lot of people who would be more public whether Temple takes in policy running firms. What not, but the first thing they think about is well. You know, they're gonna, say bad things about me that are mostly irrelevant, but is still hurts, student of american history and we generally held up and admired are heroes. Those who contributed a lot
increasingly today, there's nobody that gets held up. That's not attacked, I just can't think of most anybody, that's been a president. There's been a celebrity for very long does become hated, at least by half the country. Yes, this Ironical thing is american desperately needs, he rose to show the way, but the here does it show up or attacked and its particularly in trusting thing going on right now in the country? Some glamour happened. Conversation, I'm just sorry, my son, You're being revisit. This is my plea yards you give us they don't ever talk about that stuff. John. We told you not to talk about it. Well, I hear where you're coming from, and I think I empathize I try to empathize I mean look, they are, they are, but I also want to hear about them as a scar, and that kind of thing will discourage other people from behaviors. That might be pro social behaviors. You know you think about the kind of person who's going to get involved in politics today
seems you have to either be nuts or so egotistical that you don't care that people say things about you or both yeah or both, and that's not good for a country. No, I I mean it actually takes a lot of moral courage today, and maybe that's one of the arguments that were made in the book for conscious leadership. America needs costs, leaders who led with love that have integrity and or seek to find the higher ground and help America move past. The spiritual launching historical time ran on wanting when the politics, but I'm out here speaking to you and I'm willing to let my scars come back into the public realm a little bit and there you go paying a price for it already and being attacked a lot. But you know I want to make a difference. I want to help people. Let me ask you a question about well, one of the biggest and most intractable public policies comic problems in our countries, health care coverage, the costs of health care access, etc, etc.
We are one of the few, if not the only wealthy country in the world, that ties healthcare coverage to employment. I'm sure you know that history and have thought about the shortcomings. Can you talk about that? If you could turn back the clock to pre world war, two arrive at a solution like other countries, I don't know maybe you'd like to, but I'm just curious what that original arrangement produced that you think is deleterious to the country. Of course you are back on a scar for me since I got blasted back when I wrote that up in The up ad Mackey is talking about, was published in the Wall Street Journal in two thousand nine. It was headlined the whole foods alternative to a bomb, a care mackey called for less government control and more individual empowerment, and he argued that equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals should not be considered in
Intrinsic ethical right, moreover, Mackey wrote that many of our health problems are self inflicted and could be prevented with better lifestyle choices. The peace in aged some readers, and there were boycotts of whole foods. What we should do in the United States is one a win win, win solution The win, win win solution to me has to be one that keeps the efficient these are the marketplace, people who think we are capitalistic healthcare system right now. I dont understand free markets, healthcare system, regulated industry in the United States. We do not have free market Healthcare and yet we know we need to have universal coverage that we need to take care of our poorest oldest and weakest people, but I would do if I was president. I set up a commission to study the most successful healthcare systems that are out there and the to the stand out to me.
Or Singapore and Switzerland Singapore is universal. Coverage is based on the idea that patients should pay for routine care and reserve insurance coverage for large and unexpected costs. When reason, the system works. Well. Is that obesity, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse are much less common in Singapore, then in the U S, the swiss them, meanwhile, is highly decentralized, with a requirement to buy insurance from private nonprofits and the option to upgrade with us a mental private insurance in some ways, Obamacare try to take some of the elements of Switzerland's healthcare, but they did not go far enough. I do think there good models at work thereafter, but we're stuck in this intractable conflict between different political work views were not looking for the win win, win solutions where for when lose solutions? my where the highway and is created,
A lot of anger, a lot of disappointment, lot of frustration. There are those who argue that our political system is essentially a duopoly that, like the Yankees in the Red Sox, they thrive on being enemies. But without each other there nothing and so we've arrived, this moment, where we you say: win win, win solution. That sounds great in theory, but can use the any way in the next. You know five to ten years, were that's a reality in something like health care legislation is possible. If we are conscious leaders, we ve done it before the big social programmes that we have. They were bipartisan think about some of the biggest changes. The civil Rights ACT was by partisan salsa security was by partisan Medicare medicate, whereby part
I mean you're talking forty forty five fifty years ago. Have you seen anything in the past twenty years? It suggests that in the next twenty we might get back to that politically. It's my opportunity to say that, yes, we can, I mean I'm not saying it's gonna be easy understanding. What needs to happen, then, in the culture to do it. It's an hour, cultural DNA already in America. We just have to find. Enough leaders about Democratic Republic and parties that will work together for the greater good of all kinds. You see, however, away to go down that path, relying on the Democrats and Republicans to collaborate. I mean honestly, you know we talk about healthcare, the best solution is not to need healthcare. The solution is to change the way people eat them. Where they live the lifestyle and diet, there's no reason why people shouldn't be healthy and have a longer hell spam.
Drugs does not solve the problem I think you'll be innovations. A trivial example. So I an app watch on and one of the apps I have have on the apple watches, auto sleep. So I get to monitor my sleep every single day, and it gives me feedback I see how long I slept. I see the quality of my sleep. I see my pulse rate was for the whole night, so it's Anytime. I drink any alcohol at all. My deep sleep almost completely disappears. I don't sleep as long. My pulse rate goes up, so my body is poor metabolize this alcohol. I had no idea, and so now I consistently make the choice Yeah. I think I'm gonna have a glass of wine tonight. I actually think I'd rather sleep. Well, so a few years back told the Wall Street Journal that you have one regret or may be. One big regret that you and
wife didn't have kids, I'm curious! Why that's your big regret? I just love children kind of how do you think you did? You mentioned your dad with the expectations of this straight a's in the report card? Do you think if you would had kids, you would have been the different type I guess it depends upon how old I was when I had the kids right, because I'm a lot more cautious, I got older than I was when I was younger. I'm sure I started at age, twenty or twenty one. I had more energy, but I lack the wisdom. Would have had when I got older, so you know here's the thing. If I could do it all over again, when I make a different choice, made There's no because I married the most amazing woman and she has helped me so much. She made me so happy. It's been such a great partnership. Thirty years together and so If I could go back into the past, I wouldn't change that their lot of other things. I regret if I could go back. I change of, for example, if I could go back and never opposed to anything
the Yahoo bulletin. Trust me. I wouldn't do that now or what said about unions. I go back and we move out from history, but I wouldn't go back and replace my wife with a woman. You want to have kids cause. I firmly scored well now in tell me something that you believed for a long time to be true. Until you found out, you were wrong. You, like I'm a staunch libertarian, I'm a staunch Fagin and Spanish in that context, this sort of pejorative ethnic and allow myself identify as a libertarian increasingly, I identify as a conscious capitalist I identify as a class. Liberal, when you're younger, you tend to be more purity anical in your political beliefs in your religious beliefs. You think you found the truth. I got older. I just see less complicated and there's not of values that it arrived and everybody else who dies wrong. So I tend to be a lot more tolerant, no longer more accepting
I think the biggest thing is changed. My sense that I'm right actually changed my mind all the time you know one. So I changed my mind about is over. I realized people aren't rational. I got into my fifties before I figured out just because you have the floor. Acts in the evidence in the logic, doesn't mean anybody's, going to change their mind compromise biases rapid Changing your beliefs is any big deal, so I changed my mind times in life and our continued. Do that because I think it's the best way to live so I in the sound just like a fellow oldish guy who generally agrees with you? But since I do my question is: when it be great, you and I, when we were younger or even better young people today, could appreciate the value of not taking the puritanical stance and so many things, but maybe it's just a feature of youth. If it's not, can you think of a way to spends that message so that it trickled down a bit more of us. Why we write books right wing
a pass her wisdom onto a younger generation who also ignores us because they attended take advice from their own generation, just as we did when we were younger, but you know Wanna. Thank Stephen, I realized is that every. Stage in our life has a certain wisdom to it Youth has a wisdom to it. The old forgets about youth knows play, ended insurers in having this fresh openness towards what life offers, there's lots of us, things they don't know but You do know that and we turn forget that ass we get older, so every cycle in life every stage along the way, has its own unique wisdom to it. And we should honour that need not be so quick to judge other people, because they don't see what we see. Mackey CEO of whole foods. I say thanks for this conversation: it went in directions. I had
planned in which I found fruitful to MAX Your team- I guess this is what happens when you are dealing with an authentic person. Mackey. Is that he's also the author of conscious capitalism? which was co written by Raj, Sisodia and just leadership of CO, author Steve, Mcintosh and Carter Phipps coming up next time on Freakonomics Radio, the and theme, has rearranged. So many of our routines, including what we hear when we hear it, how much control we have over our own ears, one very economic see thing that I worry about is that noise is very susceptible to a race to the bottom on persons auditory delight can be another's nightmare. You will find that one word would have really cut back
On noise intrusion and that's the word called respect the economics of noise next time on Fr Economics, radio for economics, radio is produced by Stitcher and Duner productions. This episode was produced by in Rebecca Lee Douglas. Our staff also includes Allison, Craig Low Greg, Rippon Zach Lipinski, Matt Hickey, Daphne Chen married to do and Karin Wallace. in turn is immaterial and we have held this week from James Foster. Our theme song is MR fortune by the hitchhikers. Although the music was composed by we scare, you can subscribe to on radio on Apple podcasts or Spotify Stitcher, wherever you listen? If you have something to tell us We are at radio at Fr Economics, dot com thanks the first thing you wanna get up this p, and the second thing I do is plug in my watch. Stature.
Transcript generated on 2020-11-22.