While some might say the act of being conscious and the practice of capitalism have little to do with one another, Whole Foods Market co-founder and co-CEO John Mackey believes differently. John discusses the consciousness, mindfulness, creativity and love that goes into running the billion-dollar business. A strong believer in the adage "follow your dreams," John shares his inspiring personal story and why he believes it is critical that we all strive to live more conscious lives. John also talks about his New York Times best-selling book, "Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business."
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I'm over Winfrey, welcome to supersede conversations the pod cast I believe that one of the most valuable gives you can give yourself is time taking time to be more fully present your journey to become more inspired and connected to the deeper world around us starts right now, whole foods. John backing arrogant to sit under the trees were supersede conversation we're gonna have to meet at the store. First, wow. This excites me welcome, John High, our great. How are you doing this excites me? I need you so much for coming. I get excited and produce too
probably wanted to start here. Oh my god. It makes me so happy like when I passed a green diverse. Oh my goodness, it's my favorite section me as well as the healthiest section. Do you know that when this whole foods was coming, I like a couple years ago, it was like the second coming it was like people were talking about it. We were so excited about it. It spread. I know it's still gratifying that people getting excited like did you hear a whole foods is coming to our neighbours and helps the stores to get off to a good start when everybody's anticipating it it's been said that stepping into a whole food is a little like stepping into John MAC ease brain now. Did you have this vision? Did you sort? I have a vision,
a vision, ascending and evolve over time right. I am sir or nationally the original version with her simple, which was to sell healthy food, earn a living and have Fun John says the story of how he helped build one of the world's largest organic and natural food stores began quite organically, like a lot of young people in the early seventies. John was a free spirit at college student in Austin, Texas, searching for meaning and purpose. He found inspiration in philosophy and religion classes, but felt stay oh by the structure and rules of academia, while his parents hoped he would follow a more traditional career path. John realized, he would never find, is true calling until he followed his heart. He dropped out of college and eventually moved into a co up where, as he says, he grew his beard long and became a vegetarian. That's when Johns passion for food was
knighted, he learned to cook and started to realize the convenient frozen dinners of his childhood were not what his body really crazy or needed. It was unprocessed natural food whole foods that called his name. I look around my gosh. I love the beans eleven twenty miles. I just love is this whole idea boxes and unwelcome my consciousness, the first, why saw like being grains and nuts and Satan boffins yeah? That was the first awakening than my foot consciousness, because I got so excited about. I thought that's real food that excite bit became his inspiration at twenty five. Would no business experience and but five thousand dollar loan from family and friends, John and his then girlfriend opened a vegetarian health food store with the cheeky name safer way. Two years later, the Austin Texas Store evolved into the first whole foods market, and then
actual foods Revolution, John Mackey envisioned was officially underway you look at how your company has evolved and how it now serves the world in three hundred and eighty stores does is our sense of contentment and pleasure. You feel yeah, I'm sure I'm happy with what we published, but I'm more interesting work going to create next, because it's the journey that so pleasure not arriving on maternity rights are, after my house, First of all, tell me how the idea for whole foods came about mean you are the perfect entrepreneur. I mean honestly, I moved into this vegetarian co op when I was twenty three. Here's old! I wasn't a vegetarian. I never lived in a op before I did it, partly cuz I was young and I thought it would be a good experience. I mean interesting people and I did- and I heard the kind of parents to thought that was ok
I don't know you know if I told my parents, would they probably wouldn't ever but moved in and my foot cod. Business really got it awakens and its communal limb ass and I became the food buyer for the color. I fell in love with it. I just. We'll sell following my bless, follow my heart really felt drawn to it and the more. I learned the more interested I got. My passion of this lay awake was about selling healthy food to people Earning a living and having fun were you thinking, about business or were you thinking about like I don't think I have a this minded all, but whatever explained anything I have from the time. I was a kid and had a candy bar that I thought was good, I would want to share with everybody else. I just want everybody else to experience it, but it's a book or at the candy bar or anything was it for you and idea about business in the beginning, or was it just? I want other people to experience sure if I
something I'm excited about its natural to want to share that. Yes, sure that with people that you love and share it with your brands and ensure with larger world. Yes, so I think that type of passion is is very common. Entrepreneurs or excited about something we want to share the excitement so where's your family, excited about you going into the grocery business know. I actually tell the story over that. My mother died pretty varied way to Yuan Shi can one thousand nine hundred and eighty seven and the last conversation I had with my mother, was on her deathbed and whole foods with pretty small back. Then we only had about four or five stores and my mother had a stroke and she hadn't even gotten out of her bed for a couple years. She on her deathbed. Ask me, because I had never finished college and she said John, your father and I have given you a fine mind,
and you're wasting it. You are a grocer and you could be so much more in life and a grocer promise me you'll go back and finish. Your degree go on medical school become lawyer or some type of profession, and you know it I've? I've, a minor regret which is I was, We are in full of pride that back then. I just told her the truth, which was mom, I'm never going back to school, Bill whole foods, and this is what I'm excited about it, and I don't think I'm wasting my time I'm in a sense, my mother died disappointed in your son. She thought I was kind of a failure in my life, of course now I think back. I think I wish I'd told her that The white lie, which is yes MA. Am I'm gonna go back to school? Absolutely. Death is anything that I think it is
is and wet. So many people on the show talk about it being she already knows. I hope that's true. I've had I've heads people tell me that I am going to verify that, but I hope that's the case that she's actually really proud of me, etc. So even knowing that your mother was not proud of you and thought that you were just a grocer You knew in your heart that that's what you really not just wanted to do, but felt compelled to do. I wasn't striving, after the ambition part of part of breaking away and life means to follow your own heart. Follow your own bliss not mean sometimes going against what your parents think is best for you. What your friends think is best in so many people. Don't do that Oprah they're, afraid too, and I chose to follow my heart and it did cause me.
To break away from what my parents want. It will Joseph Campbell says that all the time- and that is that he was just the heroes join, you have to leave the community. You have to leave the safety of what everybody thinks and then be finder find your truth, your wisdom in you integrated back into the community. I have, I definitely identify with the Heroes Journey Memorial day week. Night eighty one after several hours of torrential rain. The worst light in seventy years had Austin Texas, the storm devastated the city, causing more than thirty five million dollars in damage and killing thirteen people in its way. Just eight months after opening its doors, all food was wiped out. Just came in like a tidal wave and knocked over everything in its path, and our store was eighteen underwater. Actually, my girlfriend one, the co founders, Renee she'd litter,
swam out of the store that night, she closed the store down and she had to swim out of the store. Oh, my goodness, so we didn't have fled insurance and we showed up the next day to clean it up and there's all this money and sewage and balkan stakes in fish in all, in adjusting donkey mass and the next day was what was so staggering about it was I looked around and these people clean out the strident who they were I've been a kind of recognising that they were working for us. They weren't team members, there were customers and they were neighbors and they just came and helps clean up the storm a lot of work there hour after hour day after day and I'd ask them. Why are you doing this? They said I love whole foods. You just can't die you gotta get reopened, do my part is a good neighbour and they helped us. Our suppliers gave us new inventory that we could,
credit our bank loans as additional money on my signature, which I assure you was worthless and strict, but more money and artillery. Why would do that? The guiding because they loved us, because they a daily. Where do ass, they believed in us they cared about ass. They thought we were good people with integrity and that we would make it right. We were determined to get reopened at that point, just Perry Body back, and I realise that we were no better than the community that we are part of that we were. We were some particle with them. Over the past, thirty four years for food has grown into a nearly forty billion dollar company with eighty five thousand employees in three hundred, these stores around the world and that remarkable success goes way beyond? The numbers of foods has been listed as one of fortune magazines best places to work for a staggering seventy years.
The. I was surprised when I asked you in the store. I bet if I were to do a blood pressure measurement, that my blood pressure goes up when I go in there as I get so excited. When I see those I bet I bet there's something that guy was a home of the opposite, the really they show because they calm down and- and I tell him it's because the team members there are relaxed. That's as you call your workers team members, what does it cost so much? You know you have the reputation, people call it. Oh paycheck sometimes well course. I think that reputation is not completely deserved, but we are selling the highest quality foods that we can find and quality, while any costs costs more generally. At the same time, we have lots of less expensive. We try to. We had try to have the highest quality, and yet we also tried out before debility as well and what we found like we opened our storm Detroit,
we could put in high quality but less expensive items. They will enable the people with lower incomes to be able to afford. Although that is the last place, anybody thought a whole food store would work. We hope in a store similar Detroit in New Orleans. I think office can open stores like that all over the United States. We talk a lot on an insuperable. The about finding meaning and purpose in our lives. Have you found yours through whole foot? Absolutely offers has been kind of Meyer Ashram remind Temple warm my place were my own. Spiritual growth has has accelerated, resulting
of all food and a question, and you say that there are. There are a few questions that we all have to ask ourselves to discover our higher purpose. What are they we have to ask questions about? What do we care most about what what gets us excited when we passionate about? If we ask the questions about what are we most care about? What gives us? What gets us excited? What are we passionately, What gets us up in the morning? What are we dream about? Those like wind, endorse, all those give indications of what our higher deeper purposes and yet most people never really stopped ass. Those questions did you. I did
I'll tell you a little story about about how I kind of got going on my path even before whole food I was studying. I was in University of Texas in Austin, you don't sound. Taxing wealth can talk, taxing we want to take, but I was studying our reading a book by this philosopher John Paul Sarge recalled gee you may Europe, but I guess you didn't call being nothing is big, Thick Tom, I like structures novels, but this this book was boring on reading. It was assigned text right and one night as about nineteen years old. I just pick the book up. I threw down the ground, I said Marguerite out any more. I want to read them okay, well like it, and I thought to myself. You know what I'm not even going to I'm never going to read another book of my life. I don't want to read. I drop that course the next day, and then I started dropping course after course, because I made this vow to myself that I was only going to do things
I really wanted to do dammit how old, real you, nineteen I'm just doing. Sixty I have a hundred and twenty hours of electors will how no degree, because I just took horses. I was interested in I just study where I was passionate about, and then I made this leap to, I'm never ever gonna do anything. In my life tat, I don't really want to do and from that point four I took control of my own life here when you're young, if you know so early on, you had the kind of higher consciousness or certainly Clare about yourself to really form your own path, I think, at an early age opera I became very conscious of death. I got that we are just passing through here.
We look around in this is a beautiful world and we should enjoy the beauty of it. But we can't stay here. We're just move and threw it in. So life is short, it's too short, in my opinion, to use energy as a certain pressure at the certain nobody gets out in her life. Nobody's get now lie and what is not a law? So then the question becomes you say: how are you gonna live ass? What is your problem? Why are you alive? I mean we. I think we reference in the book for the two most important days of a human life Day number one is a day. You're born most people think that eight number two is win. Their first child is born when they get married or when they die. Of course, when you die, that's the end of your life now, the second most important day of your life is the day. You discover why you're born so I discovered that are pretty early age and I've been fairly true to it ever since.
It's it's led me on this. Incredibly wonderful journey, I'm very happy, I'm very fulfilled, don't go anywhere more to come after this short break, is episode. The supported by hallmark cards. We say I love you too, the people we care about all the time. So much so that sometimes it can start to feel a little bit like a habit if you're king, for a way to make those three little words mean a little more this Valentine's day. Try sing them with a hallmark card, because when you share your love in a hallmark, hard you're taking that everyday reminder and turning it into the kind of love they can hold on to, that stays with them. Long after Valentine's day since Hallmark has so many kinds of Valentine's day cards. You can find one for every important relationship in your life this year. For every Valentine's day cards you buy hallmark, will give up hard to someone who could use a little love up to a million cards valentine, say, is Friday February fourteenth keep the love going and visit hallmark, dot com, Slash super saw defined.
On time stay cards for everyone. You care about an use chrome code super soul to get twenty percent off your card purchase. So let's talk about conscious capitalism. What does it mean well To be conscious is to be more aware here, which is the same thing is being spiritual which we could, I've been consciousness and spiritual or synonyms, but consciousness is less threatening, is a word and have religious connotations which can put people off right, but most businesses engaged in at
on a very conscious level and businesses in this pretty narrow box. It's all about just making money but to engage in conscious capitalism is to understand the purpose of business beyond just making money. The higher purpose of your business and to engage in business in this more conscious way to provide leadership and done more consciously to help people to be fulfilled in the workplace offer business can be this incredible force for good in it already is largely, but because this done unconsciously, it doesn't reach its highest potential, because if you really genuinely care about your customers or care about your viewers, people know that they know when you're being sold something and they know when somebody's authentically caring about them, We feel that somebody generally cares about us. We trust them and if we trust them, we want to trade with them. That's what
then with you in the store. That's why people where they are mopping up, I ya, think that's true. One of the interesting thing is that we discovered is that you can have a conscious business at the leadership is not conscious when you grow as a human being when you have all when you become more conscious of actual eyes. Yes from Warsaw, actualized, that's! U not doing that! Just for yourself! Absolutely you're doing that! For years family you're doing that for your organization. Your part of you can Friday, I would say, if you're a leader of an organization, you have an ethical responsibility to grow as a human being to become more conscious, because, only as you do that we are all. Will we organization be able to evolve to otherwise you're holding it back? I note whole food. I held the company back. I had two I had to be
a more cautious in order for home working on yourself. Yes, yes, initially one company was getting started. I came at it just strictly from my intellect from my mind and but at some point I realized, unless I'm willing to engage in open my heart, the company so much once my love, unless I'm willing to open that hope is not can achieve its potential Ormond have to leave so. Finally, I I was able to crack at all and let that love flow once I could do that, then it gave everybody permission permission to do it. It sounds so counter intuitive to what we ve been trained in our society, about what business is, let my heart open and in literally crack it open and let the love low through author Bernay Brown says that wrote what this great book called daring greatly, and she says that vulnerable
but it really is a great strength. Do you believe that you can be a good leader, and also still show vulnerability. I don't think you be a good leader without showing from vulnerability. I think has come to that because because, when we're, Honourable were often take, and people dont want the leader to be perfect. They want the leader to be often taken real and genuine and showing your humanness helps people realized. They too could be a leader if you are so much above people and you put forth some type of image of yourself is perfect. You hold everybody else back absolutely you're, not only enable in other people too, to grow. I love this. This you write about equality, you describe as spiritual, intelligent. Yes, yes define that. You said that having high iq isn't enough, how can you tell if someone has high spiritual intelligence? Spiritual intelligence has done
first of all, with people having a sense of higher purpose, and we talked about special intelligence is recognising purpose, and some people have the natural ability to see meaning and purpose. Special intelligence also correlate very closely with one sense of truth and beauty and goodness these are things that our souls metabolize to be healthy We need beauty, we need truth. We need goodness high spirits intelligence. Has those qualities recognizes them in values them in recognizes it in the world? And, finally, I think a good indicator. Spiritual intelligence is a strong sense of ethics. What is right, people, hypo intelligence, no one something's wrong. I always on this right and it pretty clear about it. How would you score on the spiritual, intelligent scale? I score well enough to know, I have a long way to go.
Oh he's, your spiritual life informed your business life. Never way? I don't see a separation. Why spiritual life is part of my work. My work as part of my spiritual life there there there, there are continual, do have a daily practice that keeps you connected. That keeps you in the realm of they won't process, is a little tricky in the sense that my life is so diverse, but in the in the spirit of what you're asking Yes unfortunate, my wisely yoga teacher and she keeps me Yes, it is very good, marry a yoga teacher. If you want to keep practicing yoga, I do meditate. If I can do twenty minutes, I consider that to be pretty good, but I think the main type of meditation- and I do is more of an insight meditation which is
the present in the moment, if were conscious in the moment- and I know I mean caught our great dreams not caught in our in the mind, chatter just being present in the moment, and being aware for what shows up internally and worship Around you and being conscious of that, that's my main type of practice, I try to do on a daily basis with do that- that's it I mean Eckart. He says. If you can do you can do that if you can just be present in every moment or as often as possible, come back to your breath. That that's worth all the meditating in the world and the wonderful thing about were totally saying there is that if we forget it ok cuz just collateral, combat just combat exactly that's right. It is it. The spiritual muscle, don't you think absolutely it's funny how people often times we know that if we want to get physically fit, we need.
Walk her or raw honoured or swam or answer bike or live wage or whatever we have to discipline ourselves? Well, we have to disappoint our minds. If we're going to get more skilled, as you say, it's a muscle and as we practice if it gets it gets stronger, it gets better. So I know you do long distance hiking, you ve done several of the major trails. Yes, what happened to you out there the great thing about going long, distance, backpacking hiking, is there nature, has kind of its own rhythm like we're in this beautiful setting If you were to turn into it, you would see it has its own pace, but what how when you go on long distance hike operate. Is that when I go out for a week or two isn't my mind, slow down and begins to synchronize, with nature than I'm out experiencing that very soothing, from my soul,
it also my creative with Mine slowed down in my own. Creative ideas goes up a couple notches, so I find long distance hikes I get along my best. Yes, I'm out there on the way from the business sink in well with nature, I see the beauty around me and ashes of new ideas, that's where our creativity comes from exactly up, so you say: whole foods market would not exist today, word not for the power of love, you know. As I was reading the book, I saw love so many times I so producers to count how many times you mentioned, over a hundred forty times in this book I have work on that, we'll we get more in on the next edition. So what is it? we have to do with business. Love is pretty much been in the corporate closet. Hidden away because love is seen, a sort of weak oh that's, a bunch of idealists, exhaust stuff
and that's out good, but in the real world its competitive out there, it's kill or be killed, and, if you're not prepared to to do it's necessary fail, while those metaphors or way out of date we live in, is far more complex world of relationships and teamwork and community in family and love is what unites communities together. Love is what connects a family together. I say: love is what connection an organization together, what makes for a great onto produce? What do you think I d by this. I do recognise a certain type and there is a certain type that makes a good entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is not allow the stereotypes that people have a lot of personal entrepreneurs are highly creative. People, see problems and entrepreneurship opportunities.
Entrepreneurs sees something that's missing she or he can see that This is something that will create value for other people. This is thing I wish existed. Oftentimes entrepreneurs have some type of passion, dream that they want to realise in the world, and I think entrepreneurs are. Highly creative dreamers, whose Don't just dream: they go, make their dreams happen. They create their dreams, your dream creators. I love that our wrap up and read something that you said to one of my produced, As you said, life is short, so don't shoot yourself. You need to follow your inner guidance, campbell- is right, we're all. On a heroes journey. We just don't know it.
Some man to the call and some don't I entered it. I love that. Thank you. Alright, we're gonna do salsa What's this all, what is the soul? The soul is the deepest inner part of our being it's it's where the deepest essence of who we really are exists to have a definition for guide. Well, God is the creative force lies behind all that is. Got it and I got his love. God is the essence that creatives essence of all. It is it's a great one, the graven, where do you feel most at home or at peace?
I most at home. Probably when I'm with my wife are place we haven't country happiest, I feel most at home there with her. What is the lesson, John that taken you the longest to learn the lesson I haven't yet learned and so that's not a trick answer. It just means that sometimes we Our lesson when the ready to learn it- and I would say that lesson that I am continuing to learn what keeps showing up for we have wake, we're powerful beings. Oprah I mean everyone is, and we rippling in this world in ways that we don't even we're not conscious of sir because of that we have such a responsibility to not hurt people, and so part
My ongoing lesson is to be kind and gentle, and not. Harm people with my words or my actions, to show up and be proud and in my heart and loving being all the time hundred percent of the time. That's till my biggest life lesson. I felt that every day you know before I would go into any show for twenty five years. Come downstairs on the elevator, and that was my private. Quiet time in the elevator, regardless of what the show I most at home in the elevator, that really, but at least I can be a with please don't be nobody in the elevator with me finish our privacy, I private, An elevated and I'd have that moment where I'd ask God to speak for me, and through me cause. I realise that platform of speaking to millions of people all over the world that my
the little personal ego itself was not capable encouraging all of that unless I opened myself up to Stand that something bigger going on here than myself you just sent there was no my spine. You know why, because I do exactly the same thing exactly the same thing time before I'm gonna go speak? I did that today before I came here absolutely said exactly the same thing. Please speak through me. What my heart be clear. Let the beauty and truth and goodness comes through me. Let me help me laughed good. Guy get good, So what do you say? Why do you think we're here John? What is the purpose of human experience to wake up wake up wake up, who we really are and to manifest love. Human beings need to live on this planet.
Truly in our hearts and truly in the love space. Otherwise we're gonna just, where this place and we are destroying it. So we ve got to go to this higher consciousness of love. And if we do that, we will heal ourselves or he'll our families, What will our society will heal this planet and we be then this planet, as I think we're supposed to be finished. His since the world, need the wake up and be more loving. I believe. We can success, is success, is fulfilling higher purpose in life and the things Feeds my soul is. Loving and being loved by other people when you know for sure I know that this is a mystery and this is a beautiful, beautiful place,
and it's a gift. Alive and we should absolutely make the most of it. Thank you, John Mackey. Thank you that was it guys fan I enjoyed it so much I'm over Winfrey and you ve been listening to supersede conversations the pod cast. You can follow super soul on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook if you haven't yet go to apple podcast, unsubscribe rate and review. This pledge gas join me next week for another super, so conversation. Thank you for listening.
Transcript generated on 2020-01-15.