36 Fantastic John Mackey Quotes

John Mackey co-founding Whole Foods Market in 1980. With a new worth of more than $100 million dollars, Mackey is best known for his influential avocation of organic food. Whole Foods has also carried on setting industry standards for human animal treatment and advocating tougher standards for factory farms. Here is a look at some of John Mackey’s most memorable quotes.

“Bill Gates did not start Microsoft with the goal of becoming the richest man in the world. He saw the potential of computers to transform our lives and was on fire to create software that would make them so useful that eventually all of us would own one. He followed his passion and, in the process became the richest man in the world – but that was the outcome, not his goal or purpose.”

“Business can be a wonderful vehicle for both personal and organizational learning and growth.”

“Business is based on cooperation and voluntary exchange. People trade voluntarily for mutual gain. No one is forced to trade with a business.”


“Business must view people not as resources but as sources.”

“Clarity of purpose… leads to bolder decisions.”

“Entrepreneurs are the true heroes in a free-enterprise economy, driving progress in business, society and the world. They solve problems by creatively envisioning different ways the world could and should be.”

“Every person alive has the potential to learn and grow to contribute their unique creativity toward making the world a better place.”

“Follow your heart wherever it takes you. Choose love instead of fear. If you do, a wonderful life adventure awaits you! Carpe diem!”

“For us, our most important stakeholder is not our stockholders, it is our customers. We’re in business to serve the needs and desires of our core customer base.”

“Great companies have great purposes.”

“How many ‘normal’ businesses would attract a volunteer army of customers and suppliers to help them in their hour of need?”

“I believe that most of the greatest companies in the world also have great purposes… Having a deeper, more transcendent purpose is highly energizing for all of the various interdependent stakeholders, including the customers, employees, investors, suppliers, and the larger communities in which the business participates.”

“I had no way of knowing how many accepted business practices I was ignoring and that gap gave me the opportunity to innovate freely without the burden of too many legacies to overcome.”

“I never took a single business class. I am convinced now that this gap in my formal education actually worked to my advantage in the business world.”

“I spent my late teens and early 20s trying to discover the meaning and purpose of my own life.”

“I think one of the most misunderstood things about business in America is that people are either doing things for altruistic reasons or they are greedy and selfish—just after profit. That type of dichotomy portrays a false image of business… The whole idea is to do both.”

“It is humbling now to think about what would have happened if all of our stakeholders hadn’t cared so much about our company then. Without a doubt, Whole Foods Market would have ceased to exist. A company that today has over $11 billion in sales annually would have died in its first year if our stakeholders hadn’t loved and cared about us – and they wouldn’t have loved and cared for us had we not been the kind of business we were.”

“Just as people cannot live without eating, so a business cannot live without profits. But most people don’t live to eat, and neither must businesses live just to make profits.”

“Let us not be afraid to climb higher.”

“Life is short and… we are simply passing through here. We cannot stay. It is therefore essential that we find guides whom we can trust and who can help us discover and realize our higher purposes in life before it is too late.”

“My philosophy is that life is all about learning and growing, and that life can be a real adventure of learning, growing, compassion, and joyfulness.”

“Nothing is ever the same once you discover your true purpose, your calling.”

“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.”

“Stakeholders make up a company. They include all the people who impact and are impacted by a business. We must honor them as people first before treating them according to the role they happen to be playing.”

“The heroic business is motivated by the desire to change the world, not necessarily through service to others or through discovery and the pursuit of truth, or through the quest for perfection, but through the powerful promethean desire to really change things – to truly make the world better, to solve insoluble problems, to do the really courageous thing even when it is very risky, and to achieve what others say is impossible.”

“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.”

“The longest journey that people must take is the eighteen inches between their heads and their hearts.”

“The myth that profit maximization is the sole purpose of business has done enormous damage to the reputation of capitalism and the legitimacy of business in society. We need to recapture the narrative and restore it to its true essence: that the purpose of business is to improve our lives and to create value for stakeholders.”

“The team leader at every store can spend up to $100,000 a year without asking for permission. We want them to try different things, and the things that are successful we’ll study and copy and improve on.”

“There are now more phone connections in the world than there are people.”

“There can be little doubt that a certain amount of corporate philanthropy is simply good business and works for the long-term benefit of the investors.”

“There is no more powerful source of creative energy in the world than a turned-on, empowered human being.”

“To learn and grow, one must take chances and be willing to make mistakes.”

“We were bankrupt when that flood occurred and couldn’t make payroll, so many of our team members worked for free. Of course, we paid them back when we reopened for business, but there was no assurance that we were really going to be able to reopen… Reopen we did, a mere twenty eight days after the flood.”

“When we forgive others we free ourselves from the past and allow our hearts to be fully in the present moment… ”

“While [Milton] Friedman believes that taking care of customers, employees, and business philanthropy are means to the end of increasing investor profits, I take the exact opposite view: Making high profits is the means to the end of fulfilling Whole Foods’ core business mission. We want to improve the health and well-being of everyone on the planet through higher-quality foods and better nutrition, and we can’t fulfill this mission unless we are highly profitable. Just as people cannot live without eating, so a business cannot live without profits. But most people don’t live to eat, and neither must businesses live just to make profits.”

Here is an inside look with co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey. This ‘Big Think’ interview will give you some perspective to how Mackey found his way down the path to success.

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