“I think for leadership positions, emotional intelligence is more important than cognitive intelligence. People with emotional intelligence usually have a lot of cognitive intelligence, but that’s not always true the other way around.”
John Mackey (born August 15, 1953) is an American businessman. He is the current co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, which he co-founded in 1980. Named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003, Mackey is a strong supporter of free market economics. He is one of the most influential advocates in the movement for organic food.
Early life and education
Mackey was a student of philosophy and religion at the University of Texas at Austin and Trinity University in the 1970s, and worked at a vegetarian co-op. Mackey, who was a vegetarian for 30 years, now identifies as a vegan.
Mackey co-founded his first health food store, SaferWay, with his girlfriend Renee Lawson (Hardy) in Austin in 1978. They met while living in a vegetarian housing co-op. They dropped out of college.
They borrowed $10,000 and raised $35,000 more to start SaferWay. At the time, Austin had several small health food stores. The two ran the market on the first floor, a health food restaurant on the second, and, for a short time, lived in the third story of their building. In two years, they merged SaferWay with Clarksville Natural Grocery run by Mark Skiles and Craig Weller and renamed the business Whole Foods Market. All four (Mackey, Hardy-Lawson, Skiles and Weller) are considered co-founders of the business.
Mackey built Whole Foods into an international organization, with outlets in major markets across the country, as well as Canada and the United Kingdom. Along the way he bought out smaller competitors. In 2007 Whole Foods purchased a major natural foods supermarket competitor, Wild Oats Markets, Inc.