65 Comments

Comments

L. Foerster says ...
Mr. Mackey, Thanks for your voice and keep your head up high...what a sad situation in America we have. Why don't you just start another company? If you do, Oklahoma really needs one! I am removing Whole Foods from my "friends" list...and won't be shopping there again. Best of luck to you. Again, thanks for your efforts and courage...Edmond, Oklahoma
12/29/2009 5:03:12 PM CST
paig292 says ...
Hi Everyone, Please re-read my posted blog above. Everything posted there is both accurate and true. Let me try to correct a few of the rumors and false statements being made here and in other places: 1. Was I forced to give up the Chairman's title? Absolutely not! Both the idea and the decision to give up the title were completely my own. As I mention above, both the Board and the Executive Team tried to talk me out of this decision. I was under zero pressure from anyone. I was not coerced. 2. Did the decision to give up the Chairman's title have anything to do with the op-ed article last summer in the Wall Street Journal? It isn't connected in the slightest way. Contrary to many people's beliefs I'm not being "punished" for writing the op-ed piece. 3. Why then did I give up the Chairman's title? For exactly the reasons I mention above. The Chairman of the Board position at Whole Foods Market has been without any real authority, power, or responsibility since January, 2001--almost 9 years ago. All the authority and responsibility usually vested in the Chairman of the Board position were transferred to the position of Lead Director many years ago. I kept the Chairman's title, primarily out of inertia, to avoid upsetting people, and probably a little bit of face saving on my part. At no time has anyone on the Board or in management ever asked me to give up the title. 4. Why give the title up now? That is simple: to avoid another proxy battle with shareholder activists over keeping a title without authority or responsibilities. Many people at Whole Foods believe we should just continue to fight the shareholder activists over this particular issue indefinitely, but it just doesn't make sense to me to continue to do so because of the wasted time and money this battle entails. The deadline for responding to the proxy was coming up and after talking the matter over with both the Board and my Executive Team I made the decision to give up the title. I had been thinking about giving up the title for the past few years so the decision was not a hasty one. 5. There is one other reason I decided to give up the Chairman's title that I didn't mention in the blog or in the 8-K: Dr. John Elstrott deserves to have the title. He has done a great job for Whole Foods as the Lead Director for the past 9 years and he hasn't received the public recognition that he has definitely earned. He has helped steer our Board through some rough waters over the past 9 years. Since he has the authority and responsibility of the traditional Chairman of the Board already, why shouldn't he also have the title? I think he should. My respect and trust in Dr. Elstrott's integrity and competence has grown with each passing year. Whole Foods is lucky to have him as our Chairman and I support him 100%.
12/29/2009 6:19:54 PM CST
Dianne says ...
Interestint the shareholder activists forced this decision. What happened to freedom of speech in this country. Well my freedon is no more shopping at Whole Foods.
12/30/2009 9:30:53 AM CST
Patrick Frankfort says ...
John, I don't see any reason to doubt that you're being honest about the way this decision was made, and it sounds like it was the wise thing to do. I just want to say thanks for speaking your mind and getting your views out there. You've caused a lot of people to rethink their opinions on health care as well as how a company can operate productively and ethically. That's definitely a good thing. As a grocer, its not your job to dictate to people exactly what they should eat, but your company excels at giving people healthy and ethical options, as well as a great deal of information on how to take care of themselves and each other. Thanks.
12/30/2009 11:27:34 AM CST
Janice McPhee says ...
Dear Mr. Mackey, I am very sorry to hear you are stepping down from your position at Whole Foods. I really hope you have not been forced out because of your op-ed ad and your right to free speech. Furter, I would hate to think your were forced to say this because so many people have written that they will no longer shop there anymore. If I find out differently I will no longer shop there. I believe in the right of free speech. I would just like to say that you are very respected by the employees of Whole Foods where I shop in Greenville, SC. You have created a wonderful store atmosphere in the Whole Foods stores and for that you can be proud. I wish you all the best. Janice McPhee
12/30/2009 9:47:19 PM CST
Allan says ...
Like Steve Jobs Leaving Apple, When the Vision that founded, built and ran a good company leaves, the company is never the same. We can only hope that in a short time the Board will come crawling back, begging for your return to the helm. The question is will be will you return or leave them to compost in their decisions?
12/31/2009 10:46:43 AM CST
Rob says ...
Good lord, folks... Read what the man wrote -twice-. Elvis has not left the building and this is not a reason to boycott anything. If anything, please just put down the paint and picket signs and read shareholder proposals for the companies in which you own stock.
01/01/2010 2:07:46 PM CST
scott says ...
John is still on the Board and CEO of the company why would you boycott/stop shopping at WFM. He is just not chairman of the board which is like he said nothing more than a title.
01/01/2010 3:13:56 PM CST
Jolinda Rockett says ...
So you're not leaving! Excellent. I will watch for news of your welfare and courage. Whole Foods is fortunate to have your guidance. But more importantly, "we" are fortunate to have thinking and honorable people speak up and hold the course.
01/02/2010 8:15:43 AM CST
Jim says ...
Amazing that even over JM's repeated affirmation to the contrary, commenters like Allan still seem convinced that this is a craven decision of the Board rather than a sensible course of action taken by Mackey himself. Glad he saw fit in his second post to give proper credit to the work of the his successor, new Chair John Elstrott. One aspect not acknowledged here is that there are many good reasons for separating the roles of Board Chair and CEO. Doesn't freedom of speech extend also to the 'shareholder activists' who have been pointing this out? In the free market model don't shareholders have a right to comment on the effectiveness of their company's governance structure?
01/02/2010 8:22:55 AM CST
Dave in Virginia says ...
Mr. Mackey, I am sorry to see you move from your current position. I just learned of the controversy surrounding Whole Foods. This is ridiculous. I fully support you, your company and your view on health care. I will shop at Whole Foods more so than in the past to demonstrate my support. Respectfully, David
01/02/2010 8:47:01 PM CST
joan mcfadden says ...
No more trips to whole foods for me. So glad that B.J.'s carries cheddar bunnies.
01/02/2010 8:58:23 PM CST
Tray Rorie says ...
I am 100% in agreement with you on health care and I fully support your decision to give up your John Elstrott. Thank you for building such a fantastic organization. You and the Whole Foods story are very inspirational. I also have some serious thoughts about a potential venture that meshes very well with your experience and, indeed with Whole Foods. Please write me an e-mail so I can reply and share these thoughts with you.
01/03/2010 8:02:07 AM CST
Tray Rorie says ...
Oops... I made a typo. I meant to say "I fully support your decision to give up your Chairman title to John Elstrott."
01/03/2010 8:13:49 AM CST
Eva says ...
You will not see me at Whole Foods again. i agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Mackey's views about Obamacare but I guess Free Speech is no longer recognized in the USA.
01/03/2010 8:42:21 PM CST
Ellen says ...
don't hit your head on the way out. there are many other places to obtain the products available via WF.
01/04/2010 12:25:30 PM CST
LMR says ...
(clicked too soon; with corrections:) I fully support the First Amendment, and support the right of free speech and assembly even for groups whose missions I oppose (even Glenn Beck). However, I don’t intend to give such groups my money. With great power comes great responsibility; if John Mackey wants to use his powerful position as CEO to sway public policy against health care (and also to speak out against global warming), that is his right. However, we liberals also have the right to take our money to the numerous other organic food shops whose leadership uses their power to support causes in which we believe. Most of those commenting think free speech entails no economic consequences, and that is not historically accurate, nor are the “no consequences” guaranteed by the Constitution. I would fully support the free speech of an elementary school history teacher who wants to proclaim that the Bill of Rights is nonsense, but NOT in their position as teacher. As CEO of Whole Foods, Mackey is no longer just a private citizen; he has a role which wields great influence, and if he chooses to use that role to sway public opinion or public policy in a way that I deem socially irresponsible, then I choose not to help fund his salary through my purchases.
01/04/2010 7:52:12 PM CST
Becky Montgomery says ...
Odd that all of the comments here are expressing the same views. Usually there is a mixture of ideas, even if one side predominates. Strange, and I also find it strange that the head of a company expresses views so contradictory of science. It makes me wonder if the food sold at the store is REALLY organic, etc.
01/04/2010 8:25:47 PM CST
Jen says ...
Shareholder influence is EXACTLY what the free market is supposed to be about. No one's free speech has been infringed upon; the government did not intervene and try to penalize Mackey for his statements. Mackey's views on health care reform and climate change were in conflict with a majority of the Whole Foods consumer and were bad for business. This is why the shareholders cared what he said, and why they responded. His statements were bad for business, and their pressure was a business decision.
01/04/2010 8:38:49 PM CST
Sara says ...
Hey John, As TMs, should we expect any changes? I am loathe to trust any corporation, but working at WFM has given me trust, at least, in your corporation. Will it still be YOUR corporation? Will the vision be the same?
01/05/2010 10:08:42 AM CST
Lisa says ...
I think this is a good move. I have not shopped at Whole Foods since your Op-Ed and I am not alone. I absolutely support free speech for every individual, but I'm not going a hand you my money if I disagree with your views. When you choose to use your company's name to express your views in a public forum then I am not going to use my money in a way that supports your company. I really don't see what is "socialist" about that. I shop at my local co-op now. It's a little out of my way, but I feel that it supports my community and my local farmers. That's how I prefer to live and eat.
01/06/2010 8:44:25 AM CST
Stacey Turner says ...
I am saddened but still going to shop at Whole Foods. Stop shopping there & the terrorists win. The truth is that WF is a shining example of what good people can do & will do when they are free to do so. Thank you Mr. Mackey. Sorry about the previous typo. I am a mediocre typist.
01/06/2010 3:31:31 PM CST
kassandra says ...
Why are all these conservatives threatening not to shop there anymore? He is not going anywhere? Did they even read what he said? It would better if people did buy from their local fresh market and local growers (less gas used ) and you really know where your food is coming from and what is in it. OR GROW YOUR OWN SMALL GARDEN AND RAISE CHICKENS Why should we trust anyone who obviously knows nothing about scientific research? Why would I want to eat what he is making or selling? Did you know that we have just as many pigs raised in this country right now as they did in 1900?
01/06/2010 5:48:23 PM CST
Amy says ...
Mr. Mackey, I think the timing of your recent decision to step down will have a very measurable deletrious consequence for your business. I watched you on Stossel's program - as you mention sales after your WSJ op ed were UP; I would predict you'll see a steady slide now based on the perception, right or wrong, that your company caves to intolerant liberal activists. In my mind, the advice you were given to stay on and fight the fight regarding your position as CEO was better for the company. Until you're back I'm boycotting the store - and believe me - I spent some$$ there over a number of years! But that's a considered personal choice on my part. I have known for years I've been shopping alongside a very close-minded small segment of society - a quick glance at the bumper stickers in the lot would clue you in - but when a group of them start demanding your resignation for expressing a view that differs from their own, and for whatever reason you DO resign, I just can't support that. Adiosito!
01/07/2010 10:33:16 AM CST
John J.B. Miller says ...
I live in Kerrville but go to Whole Foods almost every time I come to Austin or San Antonio and have been a stockholder since almost the beginning. It's hard to understand how your personal philosophies can differ so much from that of your team members. On a cold day like today it's easy to say that global warming has stopped but I doubt it. We'll see this summer, won't we! When the Annual Reports listed the charities Whole Foods supported, I was pleased to see the Sierra Club and the House Rabbit Society. Please don't forget the chapters right in Austin: The Austin Group of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the House Rabbit Resource Network. Always your friend despite everything!
01/10/2010 9:15:58 PM CST

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