May 9, 2008

John Mackey on exploitation, entrepreneurship, and the profit motive

Politically, I drifted to the Left and embraced the ideology that business and corporations were essentially "evil" because they sought profits. I believed that government was "good" (if the "right" people had control of it) because it altruistically worked for the public interest.

[I'd been taught that] business and capitalism were based on exploitation: exploitation of consumers, workers, society and the environment. I believed that "profit" was a necessary evil at best and certainly not a desirable goal for society as a whole. However, becoming an entrepreneur completely changed my life. Everything I believed about business was proven to be wrong.

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.

In other words, business is not a zero-sum game with a winner and a loser. It is a win, win, win, win game.

~ John Mackey, founder and CEO, Whole Foods Market, "The Transformation of John Mackey,", June 13, 2008, by Ralph R. Reiland

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