Bentley College Commencement Speech

By John Mackey, May 21, 2008  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by John Mackey

On Saturday, May 17, 2008, John Mackey delivered the following remarks to the graduating class at Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts.

 

I want to begin by thanking Bentley College’s President, Gloria Larson, for inviting me to be with you today and for Professor Rajendra Sisodia for recommending me as a speaker to President Larson. It is a great honor to be with all of you on this special occasion. I want to congratulate all of the students who are graduating. You have all accomplished something that I never have accomplished in my own life—finishing college. In the early 1970’s I attended two universities in Texas, Trinity in San Antonio and the University of Texas in Austin. I dropped in and out of these two schools a half dozen times over a 6 year period, piling up about 120 hours in various electives. I only took classes I was interested in, primarily philosophy, religion, and the humanities. To be perfectly honest with you, I spent my late teens and very early twenties primarily trying to figure out the meaning of life, or at least the meaning of my own life. I never took any business classes in school and if someone had told me back then that I was going to become a business entrepreneur when I was 24 and start my own business I would have laughed them out of the room.

 

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to discover the meaning of my life in college and I dropped out for the final time in 1977. My parents, especially my mother were very disappointed in me, but I had dropped out so many times before that they still had hope that I would eventually return and finish and make something worthwhile of my life.

 

In 1987, just before my mother passed away, it was her dying wish that I get a college degree, because she was still deeply concerned that without that college degree I would probably not have much success in life. At that time Whole Foods was still a very small company with only 5 stores and I felt badly about not being able to reassure her. However, I was doing something that I felt great passion about and know that I made the right decision for myself.

 

It has taken me 37 years but, Mom & Dad—I finally have that college degree that you wanted me to get so badly! And because it always meant so much to you, with love and respect I dedicate this degree to you and only wish you both could have lived long enough to be with me here today. Thank you Bentley College for fulfilling my mother’s last wish for me.

 

Honor Your Parents

My first message to the Bentley students today then is to truly honor and appreciate your parents. No one will ever love you quite like your parents do, and although they have no doubt made plenty of mistakes in helping you to grow up, they’ve also done the very best job that they knew how to do. They’ve also made far more sacrifices on your behalf than you will ever really know. Please forgive them for their mistakes and imperfections and fully love them and honor them while you can, because the simple truth is that you won’t always have them with you as you move further along your life journey.

 

Follow Your Heart

Hopefully many of the parents here today are feeling pretty good about me right now because my next message is one that can be a little bit scary to some people. However, it is also the major pearl of wisdom that I have to share today. The fact of the matter is that life is really very short and death is absolutely certain for all of us. It really is true that none of us are getting out of here alive and we should never forget this fundamental existential truth. Since death is real and inevitable for all of us, how then should we live our lives? For me the answer to this question has been clear since I was young: We should commit ourselves to following our hearts and doing what we most love and what we most want to do in life. This is how I’ve tried to lead my own life since I was about 19 years old. My decision to not finish college, but to start Whole Foods Market instead, was a decision that came from my heart. Although this decision proved to be upsetting for my parents and for many of my friends, for me it was absolutely the right decision.

 

Now that you’ve graduated from college and are about to launch yourselves in new directions, it is absolutely essential that you ask yourself what it is that you really care the most about? What are your passions? What are your deepest yearnings? If you could do absolutely anything in the world, what is it that you would do? Your heart knows the answers to these questions. It is whispering to you right now this very moment even as I speak these words to you. So listen to it and follow it. It will always be your best guide in life.

 

There are two important aspects to following your heart. First, we need to develop our self-awareness skills so that we can know when we are truly following our hearts and when we’ve lost our way. It is actually easier than it sounds because when we are truly following our hearts we are tapped into our deepest passions in life. We are doing what we most love and we find our lives full of increased energy, greater creativity, purpose, joy, and happiness. We simply feel more alive and we are moving within the flow of life. How do you know when you’ve stopped following your heart? When the opposite occurs—decreased energy, lack of creativity, no real sense of purpose and you aren’t particularly happy. You have stepped out of the flow of life and are just drifting along. When this happens the solution is simple: Choose again. Reconnect again with your heart. As long as you are alive, it is never too late. You are free in each moment to choose the path of your heart and it never stops whispering to you, urging you to follow it.

 

The second key to successfully following your heart is that you will need to learn how to deal with fear. It is fear which prevents most people from reaching their fullest potential in life—fear of failure, fear of rejection from people we care about, fear that we simply aren’t good enough, and sometimes even fear of our own potential greatness. Unfortunately no one else can overcome fear for us. Fear is something that you must learn to master on your own. Of course courage is the major strategy for learning to master fear for most people and we should certainly develop courage to the greatest extent we are able to. However, for me the insight that has personally helped me the most when dealing with fear has been to understand that fear is primarily a creation of the mind. I create it in my mind—it doesn’t really exist outside the mind. I can dissolve it there as well. So can you and you will need to learn how to do this if you really want to be free in life and stay connected to your heart.

 

The Cardinal Virtue of Love

My third message to the Bentley graduates today is to emphasize the absolute importance of love as the cardinal virtue to nurture and cultivate in your lives. I don’t believe there is anything more important in life than love. I’m not talking about romantic love here, or “eros”, which is a very wonderful state of intoxication, but which also tends to fade over time. Rather, I’m talking about love as care and compassion, which actively flows out of our hearts toward other people and sentient beings through empathy and appreciation. This type of love need not fade over time, but is capable of continued growth all our lives if we will consciously nurture it. When we are truly following our hearts we are very likely tapped into the flow of love as well. But love is also a virtue that we can consciously develop in our lives to higher and higher levels. Such efforts are well worth making for nothing enriches us, teaches us, or makes life more rewarding than developing our capacity for love. In cultivating love in my own life I’ve found practicing three other related virtues to be essential.

 

First is gratitude. Being alive is absolutely extraordinary and there are endless things to be thankful and grateful for. I try to take a few minutes early in the morning to be very quiet and to appreciate the people I love and to express gratitude in my heart for the many wonderful things that fill my life with joy. At Whole Foods we practice appreciations at the end of all of our meetings, including even our Board Meetings—voluntarily expressing gratitude and thanks to our co-workers for the thoughtful and helpful things they do for us. It would be hard to overestimate how powerful appreciations have been at Whole Foods as a transformational practice for releasing more love throughout the company. I enthusiastically recommend you try it in your own organizations and your future workplaces.

 

Second is forgiveness. Nothing stops the flow of love in our lives quicker than the various judgments we make toward others and the grievances that we allow to fester in our minds against other people. What we don’t fully understand is how much we harm ourselves with our judgments and grievances, because if we did understand we would stop indulging ourselves with them. Instead, we would see them for the poisons that they truly are. Fortunately, there is one virtue that we can practice that will eliminate them from our minds—forgiveness. Practicing forgiveness isn’t always easy, however. Our desire to be “right” is very strong and this usually requires us to judge others as “wrong”, and therefore not really forgivable. We also frequently make the mistake of believing that if we forgive others we are also condoning their harmful behavior. However, forgiveness simply means to relinquish our resentment and anger toward others, it doesn’t mean relinquishing our values and ethics. When we forgive others we free ourselves from the past and allow our hearts to be fully in the present moment, which is where love exists.

 

Third is generosity. It would be difficult to exaggerate the value of practicing generosity. The virtue of generosity does not merely apply to giving money, but primarily to the gift of ourselves—our time and our service to others. True generosity should not be thought of as some kind of self-sacrifice where what we give to others comes at our own expense—their gain is our loss. Rather it is an extension of love from our own hearts, which takes genuine delight in the flourishing of other people. In my life experience generosity is a virtue that is best cultivated at first with small steps—acts of giving and kindness that may stretch us a bit, but which do not feel like any kind of sacrifice. As we practice generosity over time we will gradually discover that we want to take larger steps and extend our generosity further, because our sense of who we are and what we care about has expanded as well.

 

Overcoming Life’s Challenges

My fourth message to the Bentley graduates today is that life has many, many difficulties and challenges—it isn’t easy. We all will face many disappointments, frustrations, losses, and injustices, as well as inevitable illness, aging, and eventually death. I believe the best way to deal with most of the difficulties and challenges that come our way are to see them as opportunities to help us grow—lessons that are presented to us to help us go further than we have gone before. I have not found it to be useful to ever see myself as a victim of either circumstances or of other people. Self-pity is a remarkably self-destructive emotion, which you should consciously work to eliminate from your emotional life because it dis-empowers you and moves you away from being able to follow your heart.

 

I have been particularly challenged over the past year. I’ve seen the Federal Trade Commission accuse Whole Foods of being a monopoly and try unsuccessfully to break up our merger with Wild Oats, been heavily criticized in the media for internet postings I did on Yahoo! about Whole Foods and Wild Oats, been investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission concerning those same internet postings, and fought a proxy battle against activists who sought to remove me from both the Whole Foods Board of Directors and as the Chairman of the Board. I’ve seen an amazing number of negative articles written about me with remarkably inaccurate stories and outright lies being told. Perhaps the hardest thing of all was that I was unable to respond to any of these attacks as the Whole Foods Board imposed complete media and blog silence on me while their own Special Investigation and the SEC Investigation were taking place. I was not able to defend myself publicly in any way and therefore had no way to try to set the record straight.

 

It was a pretty difficult time for me. Many times I was tempted to lash out in anger at the injustice of the situation and self-pity was frequently a temptation that I had to struggle with. I did a tremendous amount of personal growth work such as counseling, meditation, and integrated breath work to try to appreciate and to understand what the lessons life was trying to teach me were. There were many. One very difficult lesson for me was to learn that I had to simply let go and trust the process that was happening, because I certainly couldn’t control it or stop it. That is not my natural inclination because I prefer to directly confront my challenges. A second lesson I learned was that a lot of people really do care about me and they provided amazing emotional support to me—that was pretty humbling for me and something that I am deeply grateful about. My most valuable lesson, however, has been about the importance of communicating with greater thoughtfulness and sensitivity. I believe that I’ve always lived my life with a passion for honesty—tell the truth as I saw it regardless of how that truth would be interpreted by others. I have always thought that there was far too little honesty and far too many lies in the world. While I still believe that, I’ve now come to realize how easy it is to be misunderstood and misinterpreted. A careless and thoughtless statement may be taken out of context and repeated over and over again—literally sent around the world through digital media. I saw this happen many times over the past year and it has burned itself into my consciousness.

 

I now apply a couple of very simple rules to everything that I say, write, or do:

  1. How will this either help or hurt the fulfillment of my own deeper purpose in life, especially its impact on Whole Foods Market?
  2. How would I feel if that was printed on the front page of the Wall Street Journal or The New York Times—because it just might be? If I feel good about the possibility of everyone knowing about it then it is o.k. However, if I would feel embarrassed or ashamed, then I’m going to have to change it. This has been a subtle lesson for me about the refinement of motivation and purpose and it has taken me many years to learn it. If you are able to learn it while you are young you may be able to avoid a great deal of unnecessary pain and suffering.

Conscious Capitalism

My final message to the Bentley graduates today has to do with the type of business organizations that we need to create in the 21st century. I believe that the 20th century will eventually be seen by historians as the great contest between capitalism and socialism with capitalism scoring a decisive victory. Capitalism may have won the war, but it has not captured the hearts of the people. Most people don’t love or trust corporations, who they often see as uncaring, greedy, selfish, dishonest, and concerned only with maximizing profits. I believe that what the world needs now is the widespread creation of a different type of business organization, one that is a “Conscious Business.” A Conscious Business is one which has two major attributes that define it:

  1. It has a deeper purpose beyond only making profits. Just like individual people by following their hearts can discover their own sense of deeper purpose, so can the business enterprise. I believe that great businesses have great purposes that inspire them to higher levels of success. Think for a moment about some of the greatest businesses in the world and ask yourself whether they exist to fulfill a greater purpose beyond only maximizing profits. Certainly Apple does, driven by its intense desire to create “insanely great” technology which transforms our lives in positive ways. Clearly Google does too with its passion for discovery and desire to operate an ethical company. One of the best examples in the world is Grameen Bank in Bangladesh founded by 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus, which exists to end poverty in Bangladesh and throughout the world. Every business has the potential to discover and actualize its higher purpose—it has the potential to become more conscious.
  2. The Conscious Business also understands the interdependency of all of the major stakeholder groups—customers, employees, investors, suppliers, communities, and the environment—and the business is managed to consciously create value for all of these major stakeholders. Instead of viewing the stakeholders in terms of win-lose relationships with conflicts of interest dominating their interactions, the Conscious Business understands that there is a harmony of interests between the stakeholder groups and that by working together greater value can be created for all of them. At Whole Foods we understand that management’s most important job is to make sure the team members are well trained and happy at their work. The team members in turn understand that their job is to satisfy and delight the customers and happy customers result in happy investors through the prosperity of the business. A virtuous circle is created with all of the stakeholders flourishing together.

Who will create the Conscious Businesses of the 21st century—businesses that have deeper purpose and are managed consciously to create value on behalf of all of the stakeholders? Why not some of the Bentley graduates here today? Why not you?

 

I have personally found nothing more fun, more meaningful, or more rewarding than creating and growing Whole Foods Market. It was what my heart called me to do and I have followed that calling for 30 years now. To the Bentley graduates today I put forth this challenge: what is your own heart calling you to do? Whatever it is, have the courage to follow it. The grand adventure of your own life now lies open before you. Seize the Day!

 

Thank you. I have greatly enjoyed being with you today.

 

56 Comments

Comments

robert lockyer says ...
hi, you have a similiar story to mine,in hopes at least im 39 and have been from ages 30-39 doing what you were doing in generalities of ideals and meaning of life at least,from your bloggs comments you started about 10 years earlier than me,some of my worries is during my earlier 20's i was very lazy and thought never of others or ways to improve things and the consequences of that sometimes put this doubt of every being able to enjoy or to continue in doing the right things well thanks and would love to talk to you,please reply if you would, rdl
05/24/2008 8:37:49 AM CDT
jodi says ...
Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece with us. You and I share some similar values, and I was so moved by reading your speech, that I am sending my resume and career information to the Whole Foods Leadership Development posting that I just saw on the site. I am a good customer, but the truth is that I go to whole foods because I like how it feels to me. I would love to learn more about it and how I can contribute, Thank you again for the inspiration.
05/25/2008 6:22:46 AM CDT
maria elena says ...
Mr. Mackey, thanks for sharing this talk, I enjoy reading your blog and have missed it over the last few months. Great to have you back!
05/25/2008 8:11:56 PM CDT
Pamela Oldham says ...
John, I worked with your father at Lifemark many years ago. Although he might have been nervous about your becoming an entrepreneur at such a young age (and what parent wouldn't be?), Bill expressed to others his excitement about your then brand new business venture. He was extremely proud of you. Pamela Oldham
05/21/2008 1:16:49 PM CDT
Bruce says ...
Thank you so much for posting this.I really enjoyed reading this,and learned a lot from it.It was in my opinion the complete truth,and by reading your words I believe you have truly discovered the meaning of life,and by sharing this you have allowed us others to find the trail.Thank you.
05/23/2008 3:34:48 AM CDT
Peter Strople says ...
John, I welcome you back to the Blogging world. In reading your Bentley Commencement speech I noticed a return to the vigor and compassion you have always been known for but also a new sense of calmness and balance to your words. The passion is now focused with a greater sense of purpose and maturity that only life can bring. The past 11 months has groomed you and taken you to another level. Congratulations! I am excited to see how much more influential you will now be. Respectfully, Peter..
05/29/2008 9:47:07 AM CDT
Corey O says ...
What would you consider the difference between your idea of "Conscious Capitalism" and Ben and Jerry's idea of "Compassionate Capitalism"?
05/27/2008 12:42:19 PM CDT
Greg Feirman says ...
You da man JM. Best commencement speech since Jobs at Stanford in 2005: http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html As a young entreprenuer (and former Phd Philosophy student) you're an inspiration to me. You coming at things from a really good place and I have great respect for you. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say at FreedomFest. And looking to load up on Whole Foods stock for myself and my clients real soon. That's as sure thing as I've ever seen.
05/27/2008 1:38:47 PM CDT
Julie says ...
Wow! This speech is beautiful. For the past 5 years I have been questioning my chosen path in life. I am a bakery manager and I have questioned the negative effects the products we sell have on our consumers. A little over two months ago I caught the episode of Made In America about Whole Foods. Listening to you changed my life. I came straight to this website and applied for a job. I was offered a position an am in the process of relocating to Florida. I can't wait to start doing something that is productive and healthy for society! Thank you for making it possible.
05/25/2008 9:21:16 PM CDT
Lila I. says ...
Dear John, Thanks for sharing these thoughts. This is so much more than just a blog post. This is a beautiful and uplifting message from a beautiful human being who has and continues to add so much purpose and meaning to our world.
05/25/2008 10:13:38 PM CDT
Jeremy Shapley says ...
As a small time Whole Foods supplier i have been following the press room at Whole Foods the past year a lot. With often a skeptical eye but a wishful heart. Your Commencement speech is clearly from the heart and delivered with passion, i am sure it has made a profound impact on may of the students and others who have read it since as it has me. It is one of the greatest attributes of modern businessmen that are willing to encourage and educate the youth and young at heart. I hope you continue to drive others in their quest for the answers. Great Speech!! Only with i was there to hear it..Keep Whole Foods kickin.....
05/29/2008 11:52:29 PM CDT
Richard Illges says ...
John- Thank you for sharing these posts. I have come to respect and admire Whole Foods as a "cause". I was particularly touched by your comments on the heart. A year ago, I followed my heart and launched a new investment management business to try to build a business around many of the same concepts WFMI follows. Best of luck
05/30/2008 7:05:59 AM CDT
Leigh Oliver says ...
John, I love reading your words. You have been quite an influence in my life, and I appreciate that you actually walk the talk. I happen to be a vendor in Whole Foods, and I can honestly say that everyone I work with embodies these virtues you speak of above. It is a delight to do business with your company. Thank you for being a man of integrity in a world that is often lukewarm.
05/30/2008 7:34:05 AM CDT
John Mackey says ...
To Pamela Oldham, I miss my father tremendously! We were very close and he was my business mentor for the first 15 years of Whole Foods existence. He saved us from numerous mistakes in our early years and some of those mistakes might have proven fatal to the company. I'm glad you had the opportunity to know him too. To Bruce, I have definitely found the meaning of my own life, but would not presume to claim that it has universal application. I hope that sharing what I've discovered may prove valuable to others as well. These are difficult times and so many people are afraid, angry, and live without having yet discovered who they are or the meaning of their own lives. To Robert Lockyear, I'm very happy that you have found your path in life and I wish you great happiness as you walk it. However, I will not be able to talk with you one on one due to very scarce time, unless fate somehow or another brings us together. Best wishes to you. To Jodi, Thanks. I hope you begin working at Whole Foods and that we have the opportunity to meet some day. Take care. To Julie, Welcome to the Whole Foods Team Member community, which consists of an amazing group of people. See you in Florida sometime in the future. To Maria Elena and Lila, Thank you both. The beauty we see in others is merely the reflection of the beauty that exists within our own hearts. To Corey O., I'm not sure exactly what Ben &amp; Jerry's Compassionate Capitalism is and in any case I would not wish to criticize it here since I admire this company in many ways. I can distinguish, however, Conscious Capitalism from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Conscious Captialism has two distinct characteristics to it: 1. Business has a higher purpose that goes beyond maximizing profits and shareholder value. 2. The business is managed to create value for all of the major stakeholders--customers, employees, suppliers, investors, community, and environment--not just the investors. All of the major stakeholders are interdependent upon one another; it is the responsibility of the business leadership to optimize the business system. Doing so will create more value for all the stakeholders, including the investors. In general Corporate Social Responsibility takes the traditional business purpose of maximizing shareholder value and placing the investor stakeholder first, and "grafts" on to this philosophy a social responsibility element. It is the same old business philosophy, but now it has a philanthropic element added to it--usually embraced by the traditional business in order to create better public relations. Many corporations who have embraced CSR have been rightly criticized for "greenwashing"--trying to generate positive publicity without really having much true commitment to social responsibility. In contrast to this, Conscious Capitalism is a completely transformational philosophy of business. Corporate social responsibility need not be "grafted" on to the Conscious Business because creating value for all of the major stakeholders (which includes communities and the environment) is at the very essence of the way the company is organized. I encourage you to read my two blog posts that deal with this in some depth. First <a href="http://wholefoodsmarket.com/socialmedia/jmackey/2005/09/28/rethinking-the-social-responsibility-of-business/" rel="nofollow">my debate with Milton Friedman and T.J. Rogers</a> about the social responsibility of business and also <a href="http://wholefoodsmarket.com/socialmedia/jmackey/2006/11/09/conscious-capitalism-creating-a-new-paradigm-for-business/" rel="nofollow">my blog on Conscious Capitalism</a>. To Greg Feirman, That is quite a compliment because Jobs' Commencement Speech at Stanford was an awesome speech--simple, concise, and very inspirational. Glad you are going to FreedomFest. See you there. To Peter Strople, Thanks Peter. Nice to hear from you. Yes, I think I've grown quite a bit over the past year. I wish I could have learned these life lessons with less pain, but my stubbornness probably required shock treatment. I hope to see you soon. Take care. To Jeremy, Richard, and Leigh, Thank all of you for your very kind words. I wish the very best for each of you.
06/01/2008 4:33:11 PM CDT
Cassandra says ...
Hello Mr. Mackey, I am currently taking an MBA class and doing a case study on your company, Whole Foods, and you in general. I found your speech at Bentley College to be very inspirational. I find your Declaration of Interdependence to be influential to your Team Members. I was curious if there was anything you would have changed in the history of Whole Foods Market? Also, what do you see for the Future of Whole Foods Market? Any insight would be much appreciated. I believe in your mission and I would like to inform my classmates of the future of Whole Foods. Keep doing what you do best! Best Regards, Cassandra Brewer MBA Student University of Rhode Island
06/02/2008 11:09:55 PM CDT
Rene Perez says ...
John, after reading the speech you gave to the graduates of Bentley College, I feel that being a team member of Whole Foods I am fortunate to have a CEO who is compassionate, not only towards its team member but also to the Whole Planet.Keep up the great work.
06/02/2008 11:36:12 PM CDT
Laura Briere says ...
Dear John, As a young entrepreneur (I'm 27) who also dropped out of college at 19, I was particularly inspired by your speech. I'm a tremendous fan of Whole Foods Market, and am very happy to know that the place where I choose to shop is led by a CEO that thinks so broadly and intelligently. The remarks you made about how the people in your company interact is exactly the way I'm striving to create my company as well. Despite the challenges, I believe it is worth it to be nourished financially as well as emotionally in the workplace. Kudos to you, congratulations on your degree, and I wish you continued success! Best, Laura Briere CEO, Vision Advertising
06/04/2008 8:32:19 PM CDT
David Hemsath says ...
How can any man, in good conscience, actually have the gall to write about conducting business with a conscience, when he himself made unconscionable lapses in judgment by virtue of years of bogus posts using a phony name on Yahoo's finance boards for the sole purpose of promoting his own financial causes? Jeez, talk about business hypocricy of unconscionable proportions.
06/08/2008 1:34:53 AM CDT
David Hemsath says ...
Whoops. Misspelled "hypocrisy."
06/08/2008 1:36:47 AM CDT
Sean says ...
Hi John, It's so good to have you back in the blogging world. I worked at Whole Foods in the IT department for 3.5 years and began following your blog as well as Jeffrey Hollender of Seventh Generation. I definitely believe that companies like these are leading the way to huge changes in the way that business is done. One of the things that I always liked best about working at Whole Foods was the open communication from you and leadership to the Team Members. I think that sadly that openness was stifled around the time of the Oats merger and your SEC investigation and it had a negative effect that was subtle, but very powerful. The last 2 paragraphs in the Follow Your Heart section really spoke to me at this point in my life. I am very much struggling with what I want to do and I thought that I was going to something more in line with my heart when I left Whole Foods, but I don't think I have truly taken the time to listen to my heart. I don't yet know what it is that I want to do, but I know that the times that I spent working on the Green Mission at Whole Foods were some of the most impassioned and fun times of my career (even though it wasn't my primary job). I hope to recapture that passion at some point again. So, I want to say thank you for creating Whole Foods so that I had the opportunity to work there and thank you again for your words. Some day, I may find my way back to WFM, but I know now that I need to open up and listen to my heart. I look forward to your future posts. -Sean
06/10/2008 4:28:18 PM CDT
ching san andres says ...
i just quit my job of 20 years 2 days ago because the style of management my employer practices is no longer aligned with my values as a person. it was a delight reading john mackey's speech to the graduating students of bentley college. the core of his message is where my values lie and though it took me 20 years to leave a supposedly very profitable job, i feel liberated and excited to follow my heart and embrace the unknown and see what is in store for me out there. i live a few blocks from whole foods (a huge fan!) and i practically eat there as if it were my own private kitchen. i just filled out an on-line application last night, i figured it would be great to be a part of an organization that has a soul. Mr. Mackey, thank you for a wonderful speech, it's not just a good read, it speaks of the truth and i am thankful for people like you...ching
06/14/2008 1:45:40 PM CDT
R Peters says ...
Wow, this was AWESOME! I loved the message. Between this speech and "The Big Idea" with Donny Deutsch, I think I am ready to take that leap, and do those things that I know that I was destined to do! Thank you for sharing your highs and lows with us!
06/19/2008 6:12:47 PM CDT
Boake Moore says ...
Dear Mr. Mackey - I love your passion for life and your refreshing ability to express yourself so well in the media - both in speeches and in this blog. It so cool in this society to see a leader such as yourself to express his views on love and life but more importantly your gracious views of and respect for your parents is so critical in this society. We need more people to express their values and to not be afraid to express them even when they may not be so well received in this culture. Thanks again for your two wonderful speeches and your love of life and love and parents. I love how Whole Foods mirrors you and your beliefs but most of all I respect your views on the Conscious Capitalism: Creating a New Paradigm for Business. Its so easy for people to express your views but the real story is those who act on and live out their views. Whole Foods is such a model of this. Your Whole Planet Foundation and the wonderful things it does in Central America are amazing and is a story in itself and I invite everyone to learn more about how John and company are living his beliefs by helping single moms in Latin America. I own and started a coffee company 2 years ago to help local homeless children in Atlanta and orphans around the world. For the past 2 years my business has grown through both on line orders and through the sale at churches around Atlanta Georgia. I recently approached WFM - Southeastern Corporate Office about selling my coffee in the local stores. The easy answer would have been no - I don’t have any brand recognition and WFM already has so many great coffee vendors. However I was pleasantly surprised to get the response: you are a small local vendor and we like to support the small guys; and you are helping our community with your projects and we are an active member in helping our community so we would like to partner with you. I can proudly say I received my purchase orders this past week and my organic coffee will be on display this week at the 7 Whole Foods Markets in Atlanta. Doug Alvarez and John Simrell have been tremendous at helping me set this up and very supportive in believeing in my vision to help homeless children. All the proceeds from the sales will go to a Family Crisis Center in Atlanta - where moms and children are left homeless due to spousal abuse. So your customers get to try a great new organic coffee while we get to help hundreds of homeless children. Doug and team are helping me setting up samplings and marketing so people will try a coffee that no one knows about - because as he says weat WFM are all about community. Thank you. But it gets better. While we were going through setting up the paperwork and them teaching me about the WFM - John Simrell told his financial team about our new partnership. Well your employees on their own had a quick on the spot “lets help” campaign. Your employees brought in hundreds of clothes, books, shoes and toys for the Family Crisis Center - so much I have carried 2 large truckloads so far. We haven’t sold the first bag of coffee yet but WE are already making a difference. So many companies talk the game of helping community but its been truly amazing to see the WFM culture and spirit at work. I recognize the risks your SE Office is taking in giving me an unknown some shelf space but its so refrshing to see a company do what they preach. Again thanks for your new “Conscious Capitalism: Creating a New Paradigm for Business” - its very alive in Atlanta Georgia. Your beliefs are refreshing - but its such a wow to see them in action. Heres to you and all the homeless kids we will help in Atlanta Georgia because of your love for life. Sincerely, Boake Moore Mission Grounds Gourmet Coffee “The Coffee Helping Children”
06/24/2008 6:55:41 AM CDT
David Childe says ...
Dear John: First off, I highly recommend that you read (if you have not already) the recent article in Regulation Magazine on the WFMI/OATS merger. The article, written by a well-known law school professor, logically and articulately points out the wrong-headed analysis conducted by our taxpayer-funded friends at the FTC. The piece ends on a hopeful note, though, stating that the appeals process could end up significantly changing U.S. anti-trust law for the better. I couldn't imagine a more satisfying outcome for Whole Foods, you and your beliefs, and (I daresay) society! You may remember me as playing a small but perhaps not totally insignificant role in your IPO process. You may also remember me under the "dcc7" nom de guerre in a certain forum for which you have received a disproportionate measure of unjustified notoriety. I am writing this post today to let you know how much your graduation speech meant to me at a time when my life is in a huge state of flux. I spent the last 4 1/2 years fighting four major felony charges that arose from a brief dalliance with the bounty hunting business. The system seemed determine to lock me up for at least fifteen years despite the absence of any meaningul police investigation on the case, the absence of any motive on my part, overwhelming evidence of the fraudulent history of my accusor (who abused the criminal system in an effort to gain a multi-million dollar civil judgment), and a story that just didn't add up. In many respects, my case was eerily similar to the Duke lacrosse player fiasco, yet without any overt prosecutorial misconduct. Only last week did the system (reluctantly) decide to dismiss the charges. Your wonderful speech with its "follow the heart" message couldn't have come at a better time. I have spent the last two years taking law and criminal defense investigation classes with an objective of opening a legal consulting business specializing in assisting criminal defense lawyers. Pro Bono work would probably end up consuming up to half my time and even the paid work would not prove particularly lucrative. With the lure of a return to Wall Street lurking in the shadows, my head tells me to abandon my new dream for the almighty dollar. My heart counters with an intuition that spending the rest of my career fighting to protect Constitutional rights is the right thing to do - in view of both my longstanding beliefs as well as my now hard-won experience. The heart is going to win ... and your speech was its trump card. Thank you, John. I will always be proud of my association with you during what I felt was a seminal period in both of our lives. Best regards, David Childe
07/20/2008 4:20:23 PM CDT
sohbet says ...
Thank you so much for posting this.I really enjoyed reading this,and learned a lot from it.It was in my opinion the complete truth,and by reading your words I believe you have truly discovered the meaning of life,and by sharing this you have allowed us others to find the trail.Thank you.
08/23/2008 3:36:54 PM CDT

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