The Wisdom Of John Mackey


I want to recommend to everybody John Mackey’s excellent commencement speech delivered at Bentley College on Saturday May 17, 2008, recently posted to his Whole Foods blog.

Mackey, the Founder and CEO of Whole Foods (WFMI), was a college dropout:

In the early 1970’s I attended two universities in Texas, Trinity in San Antonio and the University of Texas in Austin. I dropped in and out of these two schools a half dozen times over a 6 year period, piling up about 120 hours in various electives. I only took classes I was interested in, primarily philosophy, religion, and the humanities. To be perfectly honest with you, I spent my late teens and very early twenties primarily trying to figure out the meaning of life, or at least the meaning of my own life. I never took any business classes in school and if someone had told me back then that I was going to become a business entrepreneur when I was 24 and start my own business I would have laughed them out of the room.

Mackey’s first piece of wisdom: Honor Your Parents:

My first message to the Bentley students today then is to truly honor and appreciate your parents. No one will ever love you quite like your parents do, and although they have no doubt made plenty of mistakes in helping you to grow up, they’ve also done the very best job that they knew how to do. They’ve also made far more sacrifices on your behalf than you will ever really know. Please forgive them for their mistakes and imperfections and fully love them and honor them while you can, because the simple truth is that you won’t always have them with you as you move further along your life journey.

The remaining pieces of advice are: Follow Your Heart, The Cardinal Virtue of Love, Overcoming Life’s Challenges and Conscious Capitalism.

I’ve said it before: John Mackey is the most inspired and visionary business leader on the planet.  Read what he has to say.

For more wisdom from another college dropout, also check out Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech (YouTube Video).

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