The Most Amazing Business Story of Our Time – The Global Tofay

The Most Amazing Business Story of Our Time - The Global Tofay Global Today

If you knew someone who dropped out of college before getting a degree (and without taking a single business class), joined a far-left commune dedicated to socialist ideals, and made no secret of his heartfelt belief that business is all about greed, selfishness and exploitation, what would you say the odds are that he would found and successfully run a company with over 1,000 employees, more than 540 stores, and $22 billion in annual sales, one that Fortune magazine calls the world’s most admired grocery?

That encapsulates what my friend John Mackey did when he founded Safer Way – which soon became Whole Foods – 45 years ago.

Poor as church mice, he and his then-girlfriend Renee opened their first store in Austin, Texas, as a way of sharing their passion for healthy food.

They worked 80-hour weeks, paid themselves salaries of $200 a month, lived in an office above the store and – since there was no shower or bathtub – “bathed” in the store’s Hobart dishwasher.

“I’m pretty sure that violated several city health codes,” John once told me.

Aside from founding and running what quickly turned into a Fortune 500 company, he created the non-profit Whole Planet Foundation, which has dispersed more than $124 million in approximately 7.5 million loans, creating almost 38 million opportunities for aspiring (but penniless) entrepreneurs in 79 countries around the world.

John has written books on healthy eating (The Whole Foods Diet), enlightened business practices (Conscious Capitalism) and effective and inspired leadership (Conscious Leadership).

He has also hiked the entire Appalachian Trail (multiple times), as well as most of the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, the John Muir Trail, the Colorado Trail and the Wonderland Trail.

Along the way, he has helped countless organizations and individuals financially, while taking a $1 annual salary and donating his stock options to worthy charities.

John is also a generous pal who has planned and led many multi-week trips to stunning locations around the world, while picking up the entire tab for the dozen-or-more friends he invited to join him.

I know some other individuals who are wealthy enough to do this. But no one else who actually does it.

Why? Because most don’t have the generosity or love that John has for his good friends, who he treats like extended family.

And now you can read all about John’s personal and business adventures – including his many setbacks and failures – in his just-published book, The Whole Story: Adventures in Love, Life and Capitalism.

This is essential reading for every businessman, investor… or lover of a good story.

You will hear the almost unbelievable tale of the founding and growth of Whole Foods Market, including the 100-year flood that wiped out its first and only store.

You will learn about John’s unorthodox business style and methods. (His early nickname as Whole Foods’ CEO was “Wacky Mackey.”)

You will discover how he wooed and won the love of his life, his wife Deborah.

You will hear how he completely changed his worldview many times, due to increased knowledge, experience… and – rare these days – well-reasoned arguments.

He was a junk food eater who became a disciple of clean eating, a carnivore who became an activist against factory farming, and a socialist who became one of the nation’s best-known business leaders and a leading proponent of conscious capitalism.

John has worked tirelessly to rebrand the free enterprise system to reveal its heroic nature.

In my columns here, I regularly touch on two foundational beliefs that every investor should embrace.

The first is that capitalism is the greatest wealth creator and anti-poverty program ever devised.

(The stock market is the quintessence of capitalism, allowing anyone to take an ownership stake in thousands of the world’s best businesses.)

The second is that – despite the many negative developments that the media dwell on 24/7 – in many ways the world is experiencing astonishing progress.

In other words, the trend is your friend.

John’s book is filled with plenty of evidence for both views.

Consider this short excerpt…

Economic freedom, combined with free markets, property rights, the rule of law, and entrepreneurship (or the ‘ability to have a go,’ as economic historian Deidre McCloskey likes to say), is the greatest thing we as a species have ever created. The practice of these ideas has lifted billions and billions of people out of poverty in the past 250 years; created a large, sustained global middle class for the first time in history; forged a platform for ongoing technological innovation and economic growth; and helped establish levels of wealth and wellness unthinkable just a few generations ago. Simply put, it made the modern world possible. And all of it is built on the simple, beautiful principle of voluntary exchange for mutual benefit.

Or this one on progress…

If you compare the world of today to the world of ten thousand years ago, a thousand years ago, or even a hundred years ago, there’s simply no question that extraordinary progress has occurred. 

It never ceases to amaze me how many people will deny the obvious truth of progress. It is perhaps a sign of the remarkable success of capitalism that so many, now well ensconced in the escape from millennia of grinding poverty, can believe that the very ladder that elevated them is a vehicle of human suffering rather than human liberation.

From the beginning, John understood that business profit is not a product. It’s a by-product.

It can only be sustained and increased over the long haul when business is conducted not like a battle between opposing forces but as a cooperative venture where everyone – shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers and communities – stands to gain.

Whole Foods has always stood apart from competitors. And so has John Mackey.

His thoughts are unexpected and insightful. And his personal story is a page-turner.

My advice? Read the book. Enjoy the story. And spread the word.

Note: The Whole Story – already a Business and Investing bestseller on Amazon – is available at bookstores nationwide. Or, to pick up the book now on Amazon, click here.


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