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John Mackey, Whole Foods Market’s co-founder and co-CEO, has now become a co-author with the release of a book, “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business” (Harvard Business Review Press, $27), on which he shares writing credits with Raj Sisodia, business professor and co-founder of the Conscious Capitalism Institute.
In the book, Mackey and Sisodia present the concept of Conscious Capitalism, which deals with the higher purpose of a business, its relationships with interconnected stakeholders and the effect it has on the world.
“Free-enterprise capitalism has been the most powerful creative system of social cooperation and human progress ever conceived, but its perception and its role in society have been distorted,” noted Mackey. “Now is the time to demonstrate to a skeptical world the truth, goodness and heroism of capitalism rather than perpetuate the false stigmas of selfishness, greed and profit maximization. We must revolutionize capitalism and show that businesses are the greatest value creators in the world, with the power to elevate humanity upward through continuous improvement.”
According to the book, business is inherently good because it creates value; ethical, because it’s based on voluntary exchange; noble, because it can elevate peoples’ existence’; and heroic, because it helps people out of poverty and creates prosperity.
The book is also, in part, a document of Mackey’s own growing awareness of Conscious Capitalism, and how Whole Foods’ higher purpose is continuously evolving.
As well as Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods, Mackey and Sisodia profile other well-known conscious companies, among them Google, Nordstrom, Patagonia, Starbucks and The Container Store, that create positive impacts for customers, employees, suppliers, communities and the environment, leading to superior customer experiences, less turnover, lower overhead costs, higher profits and sustained growth.
“It is a common perception today that if someone wins, someone else must lose, but, business is not a zero-sum game; it is actually the ultimate positive sum game,” noted Sisodia. “We challenge the mindset that stakeholder interests are inherently opposed to one another. When businesses operate with purpose beyond profits and create value for all stakeholders, tradeoffs are largely eliminated, performance is elevated and the entire system flourishes.”
In contrast to corporate social responsibility (CSR), which can be tacked on as a standalone program to forestall criticism or boost a company’s reputation, Conscious Capitalism integrates the community and the environment into every business decision, with societal alignment an organic part of a conscious company’s philosophy and operating model.
Profits from books sold at Whole Foods will go to the Whole Planet Foundation, which aids poverty alleviation and entrepreneurship via microcredit in developing countries. Mackey will also donate his royalties to the foundation.
The co-authors are also embarking on a national tour in support of the book, kicking off Jan. 15 in Whole Foods’ hometown of Austin, Texas, and traveling to such cites as New York; San Francisco; Los Angeles; Denver; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; and Boston.
Mackey previously wrote the book "Passion and Purpose" and provided the introduction for FLOW CEO Michael Strong's "Be the Solution: How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Solve All the World's Problems."