John Mackey (businessman)

John Mackey (businessman)

Infobox Person
name = John Mackey

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birth_date = August 15, 1953
birth_place = Houston, TX
residence = Austin, Texas flagicon|US
education =
occupation = Chairman and CEO of Whole Foods Market
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parents = Bill and Margaret Mackey
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John Mackey is Chairman and CEO of Whole Foods Market (which he co-founded in 1980). Mackey was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2003. Mackey is a strong believer in FLOW principles,Clarifyme|date=March 2008 including free market principles and empowerment management.

Mackey is one of the biggest leaders in the movement for organic food. [ The Whole Foods Shebang] , "Grist Magazine", December 17, 2004.]

Personal life

As a student of philosophy and religion at the University of Texas at Austin in the 1970s, Mackey thought a vegetarian co-op might be a nice place to find a girlfriend. "The Observer", [,,1694454,00.html "Peace, love and profit - meet the world's richest organic grocer"] . Consulted on July 17, 2007. ] Mackey eventually became vegetarian and considers himself vegan since late 2003, though he eats eggs from his personal flock of free-range chickens.

He and wife Deborah Morin both practice meditation and yoga. They spend the week in Austin and weekends at their convert|720|acre|km2|1|sing=on ranch convert|40|mi|km|0 west of Austin. Mackey is a voracious book reader and participates in two monthly book clubs. [ [ FLOW About Us] , FLOW, January 2006.] Mackey married Deborah in 1992; they have no children, but Mackey is close to the two children of former longtime girlfriend Mary Kay Hagen.

Mackey gives away up to $1 million a year to animal welfare groups and other charities.

CEO of Whole Foods


Mackey began his first health food store, Safer Way, in his garage in Austin in 1978, with the girlfriend he had met at the vegetarian co-op, Renee Lawson Hardy. They dropped out of university (Mackey never got a degree "Fast Company", [ "The Anarchist's Cookbook"] . Consulted on July 17, 2007. ] ) and borrowed $10,000 and raised $35,000 more to start the business. The store was strictly vegetarian, like Mackey, and was the first vegetarian supermarket in not just Austin but all of Texas. The two ran a supermarket on the first floor, a health-food restaurant on the second, and lived on the third story. In two years, Safer Way merged with another natural-foods store and became Whole Foods.

Animal welfare

Whole Foods was the first grocery chain to set standards for humane animal treatment. Around the time of setting these standards, Mackey moved from vegetarianism to full veganism. He was helped in this by the influence of an animal rights activist, Lauren Ornelas, who criticized Whole Foods' animal standards regarding ducks at a shareholder meeting in 2003. Encountering Ornelas after the meeting, Mackey gave her his email address and they corresponded on the issue. He later wanted to see why she and other animal activists were so concerned with the issue of factory farming and read a dozen books on the subject before deciding to switch to veganism and fight for tougher animal standards.

Letter to employees

According to a BBC article [ BBC article] , Wednesday, 6 June 2007] , in 2006 John Mackey wrote a letter to all of his staff announcing that he would reduce his own salary to $1 a year, donate his stock portfolio to charity and set up a $100,000 emergency fund for staff facing personal problems. He wrote: "I am now 53 years old and I have reached a place in my life where I no longer want to work for money, but simply for the joy of the work itself and to better answer the call to service that I feel so clearly in my own heart."

Political views

Libertarian ideas

In a debate in "Reason Magazine" among Mackey, Milton Friedman, and T.J. Rodgers, Mackey said that he is a free market libertarian. [ [ Rethinking the Social Responsibility of Business] , "Reason Magazine", October 2005.] He has said that he used to be a "democratic socialist" in college, but when he began a business and barely made money while being accused by workers of not paying them enough and customers of charging too high prices, he began to take a more capitalistic worldview and discovered the works of Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and Friedman. "Salon", [ "Interview: John Mackey"] . Consulted on July 17, 2007. ]


As a CEO, John has been criticized in Leftist and union publications for advocating an anti-union business philosophy.Fact|date=July 2007 He has elaborated on his Milton Friedman-inspired anti-union views in his pamphlet, "Beyond Unions," and in such statements as, "The union is like having herpes. It doesn't kill you, but it's unpleasant and inconvenient, and it stops a lot of people from becoming your lover." [ [ Wellspring Scorns, Fudges Facts on Strawberry Workers] , "The Prism", May 1998.]

Mackey explains his perspective on unions:

"Unions as they evolved in the United States became very adversarial, untrusting, and opposed to the success and prosperity of the business. This is my major objection to unions today — they harm the flourishing of the business for all the stakeholders. Instead of cooperation between stakeholders, they focus on competition between management and labor. Instead of embracing the notion of the 'expanding pie' vision of capitalism — more for everyone, or win-win — they frequently embrace the zero-sum philosophy of win-lose." [ John Mackey's Blog] , Whole Foods Market, October 20, 2005.]

Whole Foods Market is one of only two Fortune 500 companies listed among the 25 Best Companies to Work For in 2005, a fact which Mackey ascribes to his pro-employee philosophy. He supports non-adversarial unions and advocates their legalization in the U.S. "It's illegal in the United States for there to be company unions — special unions which are formed and controlled by the employees and managers of the company to represent their interests and collectively bargain on their behalf. These type of unions are legal in many countries such as Japan, but are illegal in the United States. Instead the law requires that all unions be outside unions. I believe this law should be repealed and that company unions should be as legal as any other kind of voluntary association."

Yahoo Finance postings

On July 20, 2007, "The Wall Street Journal" [ [ Free Preview - ] ] revealed that Mackey was, for at least seven years, using the pseudonym "Rahodeb" (an anagram of his wife's name, Deborah) to post to Yahoo Finance forums referring to himself in the third person and criticizing rival supermarket chain Wild Oats Market. The "Federal Trade Commission" [ [ FTC Seeks to Block Whole Foods Market’s Acquisition of Wild Oats Markets ] ] approved a complaint challenging Whole Foods Market’s approximately $670 million acquisition of its chief rival, Wild Oats Markets, Inc., and authorized the FTC staff to seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in federal district court to halt the deal pending an administrative trial on the merits. After an extensive regulatory battle with the FTC, a federal appeals court consented to the deal and Whole Foods officially completed their buyout of Wild Oats on August 27, 2007. His approximately 2000 or more posts are [ still available online] ( [ 8000] according to MSN Web Search), by searching for " rahodeb". His Yahoo! [ account profile] is still online as well.

In May 2008, after an SEC investigation cleared him, Mackey started blogging again. In a lengthy 2,037 word diatribe he wrote about why he began blogging in the first place and how his upbringing drove him to defend himself and Whole Foods. The overall theme of this blog post was "I'm just not that sorry". He admitted he made a mistake in judgment, but not in ethics.

ee also

*Sustainable business


External links

* [ John Mackey Profile]
* [ John Mackey - Libertarian] Advocates for Self-Government
* [ John Mackey's blog] on the Whole Foods Market website
* [ FLOW] A non-profit co-founded by John Mackey that is dedicated to "liberating the entrepreneurial spirit for good" and described as "a transpartisan movement combing idealistic initiative with free enterprise principles to systematically work toward a better world."
* [ Welcome to "Whole-Mart"] ,, May 2, 2006.
* [ Inspirational Graduation Speech] , Bentley College, 2008.

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