Whole Foods CEO John Mackey on the Coronavirus Pandemic and the Amazon Merger – Bloomberg

John Mackey: Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

John Mackey—the father of conscious capitalism—says the company’s emphasis on technology should prove transformative, even if he doesn’t love everything about the arrangement.
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Wrenching events like the pandemic put a business’s commitment to its values to the test, says Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey. But his company has stuck to its focus on healthy fare and small suppliers during the crisis.

●John Mackey, a vegan, co-founded Whole Foods in 1980
● He sold the company to Amazon for $13.7 billion in 2017, months after an activist investor pushed for changes
● Mackey in September released his latest book, Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Business

Whole Foods has done a lot better than other businesses, because we weren’t shut down. We saw our sales go up, and our online sales went way up. But it’s been incredibly stressful on the company, make no mistake about that.

Was there a leadership lesson here?

A company is ultimately about relationships, about trust, and about partnership. And the hardest thing in Covid has been the difficulty, other than virtually, to connect with people. More people may work at home when this is over, but in reality, if you’re going to maintain a culture, you have to have people connecting with each other, and there’s no real substitute for doing that in person.

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