The Evolution of a Company's "Purpose"

John Mackey:   As a company grows, its purpose grows with it.  It has the potential to evolve your purpose.  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.  I think that is a pretty good analogy or good metaphor in that Whole Foods is 30 years old.  It has its own purpose and destiny now apart from the father who created it. So the stakeholders--the customers care, the team members care, investors care.  They’re all sort of co-evolving the purpose. We’ve always believed in a sense of social responsibility. 

We’ve always tried to be good citizens in the communities that we do business in. And we thought of that as meaning we would support, philanthropically, not-for-profit organizations in each community that we trade in, which is something we do.  90% of our money that we give away—we contribute over 5% of our net profits and most of that is done locally at our store level. But we began to ask the question, do we have any responsibility in these developing nations where we’re trading in, where we buy our coffee from, where we get our bananas from?  And what we discovered is that we asked that question and we answered it yeah, we do think we do have some responsibility for that.

Directed by Jonathan Fowler
Produced by Elizabeth Rodd

Defining a company’s purpose may begin with the philosophy of an entrepreneur. But, over time, the contributions of team members and stakeholders will naturally change a company's destiny.

Adam Gopnik on the rhinoceros of liberalism vs. the unicorns of everything else

Torn between absolutism on the left and the right, classical liberalism—with its core values of compassion and incremental progress whereby the once-radical becomes the mainstream—is in need of a good defense. And Adam Gopnik is its lawyer.

Think Again Podcasts
  • Liberalism as "radical pragmatism"
  • Intersectionality and civic discourse
  • How "a thousand small sanities" tackled drunk driving, normalized gay marriage, and could control gun violence
Keep reading Show less

Why the south of Westeros is the north of Ireland

As Game of Thrones ends, a revealing resolution to its perplexing geography.

Image: YouTube / Doosh
Strange Maps
  • The fantasy world of Game of Thrones was inspired by real places and events.
  • But the map of Westeros is a good example of the perplexing relation between fantasy and reality.
  • Like Britain, it has a Wall in the North, but the map only really clicks into place if you add Ireland.
Keep reading Show less

Fascism and conspiracy theories: The symptoms of broken communication

The lost practice of face-to-face communication has made the world a more extreme place.

Videos
  • The world was saner when we spoke face-to-face, argues John Cameron Mitchell. Not looking someone in the eye when you talk to them raises the potential for miscommunication and conflict.
  • Social media has been an incredible force for activism and human rights, but it's also negatively affected our relationship with the media. We are now bombarded 24/7 with news that either drives us to anger or apathy.
  • Sitting behind a screen makes polarization worse, and polarization is fertile ground for conspiracy theories and fascism, which Cameron describes as irrationally blaming someone else for your problems.
Keep reading Show less