I reject the premise that liberal and libertarian values are necessarily in conflict. In fact, I often self-identify as a 'classical liberal.'
I tell students and young professionals all the time to follow their hearts, do what they truly love, and if it's business, run it by being grounded in ethical consciousness.
We wanted to preserve as many jobs as possible, so when our sales continued to decline in August 2008, we did about a 5 percent reduction of our global staff. But in order not to cut any more jobs, we froze everybody's pay and put a hiring freeze on.
We believe that business is good because it creates value. It is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange; it is noble because it can elevate our existence, and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity.
When I'm hiring leaders, I pay a lot of attention to what their peers and what people who report to them say about them. We want people who relate well with their peers and cooperate in an exchange of information rather than being overly competitive.
I believe that all forms of socialism have been proven over time to result in a loss of both economic and civil liberties, with increasing poverty.
I was in my early 20s and open to alternative lifestyles. I thought, 'I bet you get a lot of attractive, interesting women in a vegetarian co-op.'
You have to understand: the narrative that people have about business and capitalism is that they are fundamentally selfish, greedy, and exploitative. Of course, I don't agree with that narrative.
Back then, before the Internet, you had these paper catalogs that you ordered all the food from. So, we flipped through the catalogs, looked up the food we wanted, called them up, and they would show up in trucks.
Whole Foods Market tries to embody all of the principles of conscious capitalism all the time, but like any person or company, we sometimes fall short.
The way yogurt works is you take the old yogurt culture and you put it in milk. You have to put enough of the old culture in, and then that old culture will convert the milk into yogurt.
I always like to say that our brand or our philosophy has always been kind of this marriage between the 'food as indulgence,' and it's also been about 'food as health,' that food is vitality.
The right actions undertaken for the right reasons generally lead to good outcomes over time.
To me, you make a tradeoff. It might be a little bit more expensive. But you're getting a better tasting, higher quality food that's going to be better for your health and better for the environment.
The world is getting more connected through technology and travel. Cuisines are evolving. Some people are scared of globalization, but I think people will always take pride in cultural heritage.
In many companies, the person who talks the best usually gets the job. I got snowed by a few of those people over the years. I still think communication is important, but I don't think there's always a correlation between being a great communicator and other virtues that make for a great leader.
If you're growing very rapidly, it doesn't matter if you make mistakes, in a way, because the growth kind of bails you out.
The way most people approach business - and the way they mostly teach in business school - involves the analytical mind. It divides it up and looks at parts in isolation.
The original entrepreneur may initiate the initial purpose, but, in a sense, like a parent that has children, the children have their own destiny, and at some point, that can veer off away from the wishes the parent might have for it.
At Whole Foods, we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund.
At a lot of companies founded on principles, the notion of making money is almost antithetical to the ethos of the place. From the very beginning, our business has existed to meet the needs and desires of multiple constituencies: customers, team members, vendors, shareholders, the community.
A healthy society rests on three pillars: business, government and civil society, or non-profits. Each has a distinct and important role to play, and all three need to work together synergistically to create the most value for society.
I'm a huge NBA fan and watch many games each year. Following any sport is kind of bringing us back to our tribal roots.
I believe our philosophy of conscious capitalism will eventually be widely adopted primarily because it is a better way to do business, and it creates more total value in the world for all of its stakeholders.
As a company grows, its purpose grows with it. It has the potential to evolve your purpose.
It started when I moved into a vegetarian co-op back in the '70s, and that's really when I had my food consciousness awakened. I learned how to cook, and eventually I became the food buyer for the entire co-op. Not long after that, I went to work for a small natural food store in Austin, and I became very excited and passionate about it.
Operating under the conscious capitalism model will show that businesses are the true value creators that can push all of humanity upward for continuous improvement.
I learned how to cook, began reading books on food. I began to understand about nutrition. It never had occurred to me that what you ate could affect how you felt. It could affect your health. It seems obvious now, but at age 23 or 22 or whatever I was, it wasn't obvious at all.
At the end of the day, the quality of life is all we have, and it's just as important to that lobster, the quality of life that it lives - even if it's not as long - as the quality of your life.
I think it's absolutely essential that the people that work for a company need to feel that they're part of something bigger - that it's not just a job.
People need to eat whole food plant foods, primarily... whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. That diet supports our lives. We ought to live to be 90 or 100 without getting any diseases.
Some of the greatest businesses operating from a deeper purpose have a real commitment to service, like Four Seasons, Joie de Vivre hotels, Southwest Airlines, and JetBlue.
Libertarians are constantly arguing with each other who is the most pure libertarian and who is most ideologically pure.
The great thing about a culture is that once you really get it going, it evolves on its own. It's self-organizing. It's dynamic. It just feeds on itself.
The stakeholder approach to business sees integration rather than separation, and sees how things fit together.
Message boards are like going to a Halloween masquerade party. Everybody has a screen name.
We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state, and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.
Healthier team members get a bigger food discount. We give our sickest team members an option to go through what we call the Total Health Immersion, where we take them off for a week, and we do intensive diet-and-lifestyle education.
I kind of have this sense of mission now when we talk about success: I'd really like Whole Foods to contribute to the healing of America, and the success of that may be measured in decades rather than in months, but I think we're on the way to doing it.
The idea that in the system, if you manage it in an optimum way, all of the constituent parts of the system also win, flourish, and benefit, is intrinsic to business and even to capitalism itself, properly understood. But people don't understand it because we're not taught to think that way.
While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system.
We knew it was going to be a market, and we knew it was a food market. Well, what kind of food market? It's kind of natural foods, kind of organic foods. So, we eventually settled on Whole Foods Market.
I think for leadership positions, emotional intelligence is more important than cognitive intelligence. People with emotional intelligence usually have a lot of cognitive intelligence, but that's not always true the other way around.
Any type of political ideology is going to have a lot of different variants of it.
I was looking for the meaning of life when I was in college. And my deal with my dad was as long as I was taking a full course load, then he would pay. And the times that I wasn't taking a full course load, then I was off the dole and I was working.
More than once in the history of Whole Foods Market, the company was unable to collectively evolve until I myself was able to evolve - in other words, I was holding the company back. My personal growth enabled the company to evolve.
Examine our every action through the lens of how we would feel if it were to become front page news.
Starting my own business was kind of a wakeup call in a number of different ways. I had to meet a payroll every week, and we had to satisfy customers, and we had competitors that we had to compete with in order to have those customers come into our stores, and we had to compete with other employers for our employees.
Not everyone is born to run a $4 billion company. There is no magic formula. I've learned, and I've grown by learning. That's why I've enjoyed being in business so much: It's stretched me.