John Mackey

John Mackey

John Mackey


CEO of Whole Foods Markets

John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, has taken the natural and organic grocer from a single store in Austin, Texas in 1978, to an $11.7 billion Fortune 300 company and a top U.S. supermarket with more than 350 stores and 80,000 Team Members in three countries. In 1981, Austin’s worst flood in history almost bankrupted the original store, and community efforts to save it shaped Mackey’s leadership philosophy to “do right by your stakeholders and they’ll do right by you.” Whole Foods now has 540 stores, over $22 billion in sales, and 105,000 team members.

Mackey is also recognized as a pioneering management thinker who has upended numerous management dogmas and advanced a highly influential new operating system for business through his influential books: Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Business, coauthored with Steve McIntosh and Carter Phipps (Penguin/Portfolio 2020), and Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, coauthored with Raj Sisodia (Harvard Business Review Press 2014), and The Whole Foods Diet: The Lifesaving Plan for Health and Longevity with Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD (Grand Central Publishing, 2017).

While devoting his entire career to providing shoppers with high-quality natural and organic foods, Mackey has also focused on building a more conscious way of doing business. He led the company through 19 acquisitions and took the company public in 1992. The company has the highest stock market valuation of any dedicated U.S. food retailer and plans to grow to 1,000 stores.

For 16 consecutive years, FORTUNE magazine has included Whole Foods Market on its “100 Best Companies to Work For” list and in 2013 ranked the company number 16 on its “World’s Most Admired Companies” list. The company was named “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” by Health Magazine, one of the nation’s “Top 25 Green Energy Leaders” by Scientific American and one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” by the Ethisphere Institute.

Mackey has been the visionary for many successful programs at the core of Whole Foods Market. He created the Whole Planet Foundation in 2005 to help end poverty in developing nations. By empowering poor entrepreneurs through microcredit, the foundation has helped more than 1.5 million people in 57 countries. Thanks to Mackey, Whole Foods Market was the first national grocer to set and implement standards for humane farm animal treatment for the meat products it sells. In 2007, he launched the Local Producer Loan Program to help local farmers and food producers expand their businesses and committed $10 million per year to help grow their businesses through low-interest loans.

Most recently, Mackey has focused on returning to the company’s roots around healthy eating and lifestyle choices. A staunch advocate of healthy eating education, he laid the foundation for health and wellness programs for team members and customers.

In 2003, he was named Ernst & Young’s “United States Entrepreneur of the Year” and Bon Appétit magazine’s “Tastemaker of the Year”. Vanity Fair called him “Best Provider” in its “Best of the Best in 2004,” Institutional Investor magazine rated him second on its “Best CEOs in America” list in 2005, and Barron’s put him on their “World’s Best CEOs” list in 2006. In 2008, he received an honorary Doctorate from Bentley College. And, in 2011, MarketWatch called him CEO of the Year and FORTUNE magazine called him “Businessperson of the Year.” In 2012, Esquire magazine named him one of the “Most Inspiring CEOs” and FORTUNE named him one of the “12 Greatest Entrepreneurs of Our Time.”

Out of his respect for equity among Team Members, Mackey implemented a salary cap for all executives. He cut his own salary to $1 annually in 2006, and forgoes stock options and bonuses. He continues to work for Whole Foods Market out of a passion to see the business realize the potential for deeper purpose, for the joy of leading a great company, and to answer the call to service he feels in his heart.

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