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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.