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Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business
John Mackey, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market
Moderated by Joel Kurtzman, Executive Director, Center for Accelerating Energy Solutions
January 25, 2013
4:30pm - 6:00pm
Santa Monica


Want to increase the value of your company? Then elevate the values it conveys in the way it does business. That's the advice of John Mackey of Whole Foods Market fame. The health food store he and his girlfriend opened in 1978 has mushroomed into a world-beating, 343-outlet chain with annual revenue approaching $12 billion. Yet Mackey takes a salary of only $1.

Mackey, co-author of "Conscious Capitalism" with Rajendra Sisodia, has become an evangelist for transforming the quest for profit from a zero-sum game into a system in which everybody wins. At this Milken Institute Forum, moderated by the Milken Institute's Joel Kurtzman, the outspoken entrepreneur discussed the essentials of his vision for business: higher purpose, stakeholder integration, conscious culture and management, and conscious leadership.

Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business

Companies must expand the scope of their loyalties beyond investors and customers, Mackey believes. That means all whom they touch -- employees, suppliers, society at large. The philosophy seems to work for Google and Starbucks as well as Whole Foods.

"I have long believed that companies have a responsibility to balance profitability with a social conscience," writes Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz, "yet few leaders have an inherent understanding of just how to do it. In 'Conscious Capitalism,' John Mackey and Raj Sisodia provide a timely, realistic framework so companies can better serve a variety of stakeholders. I highly recommend listening to what they have to say."

John Mackey
John Mackey

John Mackey has led Whole Foods Market as it has grown from a single store in Austin, Texas, to a Fortune 300 company. While helping shoppers satisfy their food and lifestyle needs, Mackey has also created a more conscious way of doing business, founding programs to fight poverty in developing nations, help food producers expand, and encourage humane farm animal treatment. He has been named Ernst & Young's United States Entrepreneur of the Year, Institutional Investor magazine's Best CEO in America, and Barron's World's Best CEO, among other honors. For 15 years, Fortune has included Whole Foods Market on its list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. A strong believer in free-market principles, Mackey co-founded the Conscious Capitalism movement to challenge business leaders to rethink their organizations' purposes and acknowledge their roles in the interdependent global marketplace.

Joel Kurtzman is a senior fellow at the Milken Institute and Wharton's SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management. Previously he was global lead partner for thought leadership and innovation at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He has also served as executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, a member of the editorial board of Harvard Business School Publishing, a business editor and columnist at the New York Times and founding editor of Strategy+Business. Kurtzman began his career as an international economist at the United Nations, serving as deputy director of its Project on the Future. While at the U.N., he participated in negotiations between India and Union Carbide over the Bhopal disaster and was awarded India's Indira Gandhi Prize. The author of 24 books and hundreds of articles, he received a master's degree from the University of Houston.