John Mackey’s Transformation

Here is an interesting story about John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods and former capitalism skeptic, who eventually came to see the light.

"I believed that 'profit' was a necessary evil at best and certainly not a desirable goal for society as a whole," he writes. "However, becoming an entrepreneur completely changed my life. Everything I believed about business was proven to be wrong."

Rather than seeing a milieu of "exploitation" and coercion in his store, Mackey saw a system of freedom and "voluntary cooperation" at work and a new realism: "No one is forced to trade with a business; customers have competitive alternatives in the marketplace; employees have competitive alternatives for their labor; investors have different alternatives and places to invest their capital. Investors, labor, management, suppliers – they all need to cooperate to create value for their customers."

That's not the way Mackey's customers and employees saw it. Despite losing half his initial investment in the first year of business, Mackey was nevertheless accused of greed and exploitation. "Our customers thought our prices were too high, our employees thought they were underpaid, the vendors would not give us large discounts, the community was forever clamoring for donations, and the government was slapping us with endless fees, licenses, fines and taxes."

The number of entrepreneurs that strike it big easily and quickly is extremely small. Outside parties rarely realize that. If you own a business, people assume you have lots of money, and if you ever do make it, people seem to easily forget the years of struggle that it took to get to that point.

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Hat tip Commercebucket.