Whole Foods Market is a very successful company with a CEO who brings a refreshing leadership style to today’s corporate climate. This past November, he sent this letter to his staff:
“To All Team Members:
I want to announce a couple of significant changes regarding compensation at Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFMI). First, as you know, we have a salary-cap policy, which limits the total cash compensation that can be paid to any team member. The board of directors has voted to raise the salary cap from 14 times the average pay to 19 times the average pay, effective immediately. We are raising the salary cap for one reason only, ‘to make the compensation to our executives more competitive in the marketplace’.
Everyone on the Whole Foods leadership team (except for me) has been approached multiple times by “headhunters” with job offers to leave Whole Foods and go to work for our competitors. Raising the salary cap has become necessary to help ensure the retention of our key leadership. This increase to 19 times the average pay remains far, far below what the typical. The average CEO received 431 times as much as their average employee received in 2004, while Whole Foods’ CEO (me) received only 14 times the average employee pay in cash compensation. Most large companies also pay their executives large amounts of stock options in addition to large salaries and cash bonuses. The average corporation in the United States distributes 75% of their total stock options to only 5 top executives. At Whole Foods, the exact opposite is true: The top 16 executives have received 7% of all the options granted while the other 93% of the options have been distributed throughout the entire company. The second part of today’s announcement has to do with my own compensation. The tremendous success of Whole Foods Market has provided me with far more money than I ever dreamed I’d have and far more than is necessary for either my financial security or personal happiness. I am now 53 years old and I have reached a place in my life where I no longer want to work for money, but simply for the joy of the work itself and to better answer the call to service that I feel so clearly in my own heart.
Beginning on January 1, 2007, my salary will be reduced to $1, and I will no longer take any other cash compensation. The intention of the board of directors is for Whole Foods Market to donate all of the future stock options I would be eligible to receive to our two company foundations. One other important item to communicate to you is, in light of my decision to forego any future [pay], our board of directors has decided that Whole Foods Market will contribute $100,000 annually to a new Global Team Member Emergency Fund. This money will be distributed to team members throughout the company based on need. The first $100,000 will be deposited on January 1, 2007, and requests will be considered after that date.
With much love, John Mackey”
Fast Company magazine reported this in their February issue, with a note at the top stating On the same day, the grocery chain warned that sales growth would slow in the year ahead. Its stock dropped 23% on the news.
Why is it that we have so much skepticism when a leader seeks to give back to the world without personal gain? John Mackey’s move to work without pay and donate the difference to foundations supported by Whole Foods Market is twisted into a strategic move by Fast Company’s reporting of the projected slow sales growth. The idea is that he took the pay cut because of expected low sales.
In his letter, John Mackey states that he has enough money, and doesn’t need any more. How many CEOs would do this? Not many, I’d venture to guess. Whole Foods is a company worth studying for its progressive leadership style. The culture empowers employees and supports their individual growth and success.
The world needs more examples of John Mackey’s leadership style; one that has genuine love for the people in the business doing the day to day work. Selfless leadership, where the leader does the right thing for the greater good rather than self-serving action is rare. I’m hopeful that many others will follow John Mackey’s example.
I’ve begun a new fitness routine, and I’ve chosen a fitness plan that provides individualized attention to help me gain the most from my workouts. It’s very much like having a personal trainer.
When I chose this regime, I discussed with the trainer my need for accountability. Just like business owners who gain accountability through my coaching, I require accountability for my fitness goals.
Last night was my first workout. Though I struggled significantly with the workout, I left feeling energized and motivated. I’m eager to improve and make the progress necessary to build strength and endurance. This is much like my role as coach with my clients; my trainer will remind me of my goals and push me to do the work necessary to get there.
The point here is that it’s important to push yourself. Pushing past the barriers of ease and mediocrity is rewarding and motivating. Whether it’s exercise or otherwise, we must not settle for a situation simply because working toward another scenario is difficult. There is no growth without struggle and pain.
I remember a time years ago when I was in top physical condition. I was chaperoning a field trip with my son’s 3rd grade class; a trip to the Capitol Building in Indianapolis. As the bus unloaded at the bottom of the endless staircase to the entrance of the capital building, I charged ahead of the 3rd graders and ran up the hundred or so stairs. When I reached the top ahead of the youngsters, I felt such power! I was fit, strong, and accomplished. I had worked hard to get to that place, and I was proud of myself.
Physical fitness is critical for a balanced life. Being fit shows your commitment to being your best self. It allows you to work through life issues with strength and endurance, and ultimately adds years to your life.
Would you like more time to do the good work you’re meant to do in this world? Would you like to feel strong and powerful?
I always learn something when my son returns home from college. I’m not surprised; he is one smart cookie. (Proud and biased mom’s opinion.)
My son has been forwarding email to me lately that is out of character for him. He’s been sending me personal development topics; many of which are inspirational movie shorts. He’s sent some really cool material. I finally asked him where he is getting all of this good stuff.
The answer? www.StumbleUpon.com. It’s a website for which you register, indicating areas of interest. You then download the software and toolbar, and click the Stumble button. You are then introduced to website after website, all pertaining to the topics for which you indicated interest. Do you have any idea how many interesting websites there are out there? I am getting a clue.
As a proponent of life-long learning, this is a perfect tool for a person like myself. I love learning quirky new things! The websites take you places you might never otherwise get to, as normally you are limited by what comes up in the searches you initiate. This is a random sampling of obscure (and not so obscure) websites, offering a plethora of information from soup to nuts.
Now, just because something appears on a website does not make it true. One must use sorting and selecting criteria to determine the validity of the information. The upside is that StumbleUpon.com introduces us to knowledge and information from valid sources more often than not. The downside? Wow, is it a time sucker.
My son continues to open and broaden my mind through his exploration of the world. Buckminster Fuller once said “Remember, your children are your elders in universe time. They have come into a more complete, more evolved universe than you or I can know. We can only see that universe through their eyes”.
Lesson learned. I’m glad I wasn’t too arrogant to learn from my son, as he has a lot to teach me.
Gandhi said “There is enough for our need but not for our greed.”Â All this talk about The Secret and about gaining wealth has got me thinking…
What are we teaching our children about need?Â We pick them up from one activity only to rush them to another.Â We stand in ridiculously long lines to be the first to purchase a new electronic gadget so our children are in the “have” category.Â We want our children not to “want” for anything.Â We fall into the trap of competition between parents to provide all the best things for our children.
But what message does this send to our children? Will they grow up with the belief that they are entitled to certain things? If everything is handed to them, how will they learn to work for what they want?
As Americans, we are caught in extreme consumerism. When did we begin to need so much stuff? We shop til we drop; we buy because we can, not because we have a need. Our purchases end up in landfills, which adds to the destruction of our planet.
Children are born with a sense of awe and wonder at the simplest of things. They don’t innately understand wealth and abundance; they only understand whether or not they are loved. While we are running around working long days to provide them with material possessions, what they really need has no cost.
I’m not saying that having wealth and abundance is a negative thing. In order to make a difference in this world, resources are necessary. It’s the perpetual need for consuming, and the idea that more is better that disturbs me. More is not better. It’s a worthy cause to decrease consumption.
We can rearrange our context so that we teach our children to value making a difference rather than making a fortune.
Where is your business going, and how is it going to get there? A thoughtfully written vision, mission, and core values will provide the necessary roadmap for your journey.
Sometimes companies spend the appropriate amount of time creating their vision and mission, and then make the mistake of not using it as a working document. It’s intended to guide the leaders toward creating the strategy that will lead to the vision becoming a reality, and the mission to be descriptive of how this will be accomplished. Strategic plans aid in determining the action steps required to operate inside the mission.
This may all sound rather confusing and difficult, but in reality, it does not have to be. It does require that you step outside your current situation and decide what your business would look like in a number of years, should everything go as you dream it will go. In addition, it requires that the business owner firmly identify what they are committed to achieve and how they are committed to achieve it.
Creating a vision and mission that stays alive in your business can have a tremendous impact on your staff. When they clearly understand the path ahead of them, they are much more likely to embrace and share your vision and mission, and work toward helping you achieve the success you seek under those guidelines. It gets everyone moving in the same direction. It also gives people the motivation to work with more passion, as they get excited about where you want to go.
Creating a core values document allows the business owner to communicate the expectations for delivering the product or service to the customer. It helps define the “dealbreakers” for taking care of the customer, as well as setting the expectations for staff. Without this committment, employees may vary from the owner’s value system in getting the job done. Since they represent your business, you’d want them to operate within your value system.
It is helpful to have an objective perspective when defining your vision, mission, and core values. Getting clear on who you are as a company is critical for you to reach your highest levels of success. Hire a business coach to help you with this and many other initiatives designed to assist you to reach your business objectives.
“Until one is committed there is the chance to draw back; always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would not otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man would have dreamed would come his way.” by W.H. Murray
Have you made a definite commitment to something? Do you speak of it to others? Speaking about it solidifies your commitment, and helps you to be more accountable to it. If you say you are a writer, and you’re committed to being one, people begin to expect you to write. Funny how that works!
When you’ve made a commitment about what you’ll do or who you’ll be, and it’s one made with great force, the resources to make it happen will come about. It’s about the power of intention; understanding that you hold this power makes anything possible.
Last night I spent some time with my great-nephew, Ethan. He is three and a half years old, and quite remarkably brilliant for a boy his age.
We had a thunderstorm, and then a beautiful, fully formed rainbow. As I took Ethan outside to see the first rainbow he will remember in his lifetime, his eyes sparkled and he smiled. I could tell he was really thinking about something. He turned to us, and said “Maybe I could climb up the rainbow and slide down it and gets lots of gold!” He was so certain that this was possible. He wanted a boost, so he could reach it. He was mesmerized by the rainbow, and by the joy that it could bring him. He may not really understand what gold is, but he knows it’s good.
Later, we read books. He is not yet reading, but he tracks with his eyes while he is read to, and will probably be reading within a year or so. I read to him a book that I have from my childhood; my favorite story. It’s a book called “Miss Suzy”, by Miriam Young. The story is about a female squirrel who lives in the tip, tip top of an old oak tree. She makes tea in her acorn cups and sweeps her moss carpet with a broom she’d made from maple twigs.
Miss Suzy was ultimately chased out of her home by a band of red squirrels, and subsequently found a new home in a dollhouse in a nearby attiic. She opened a box and found 6 toy soldiers, who came alive and ultimately rescued her old home by chasing the red squirrels away.
This story is magical, and Ethan was again mesmerized. I told him that Miss Suzy actually lives just outside, in the tip tip top of OUR old oak tree. He looked out the window and asked me which tree. I told him we weren’t sure; that it was difficult to know, but that we knew she was there. He was curious if her house was there too. Of course I said yes, her house is there too.
Ethan’s reactions reminded me about the wonder we feel as a child. Eventually, we lose that sense of wonder and replace it with skepticism. The good news is that we can get some measure of it back; spending time with children reminds us how precious imagination can be. When we read to children, we have the opportunity to get inside the story and feel the way the child feels as the story unfolds.
Whether it’s rainbows or storybooks, adult dreams or wishes, our sense of wonder is still inside of us. Re-visit it and nurture it, and your imagination and creativity will flourish!
“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in”. by Rachel Carlson
As a business coach, it’s my job to help leaders determine what is missing in their business, that if provided, would make a positive difference. We begin by talking about what is working, and what is not working. In this discussion, we are not looking for good or bad, right or wrong. This is very empowering because in corporations, it’s very easy to play the blame game. Your need to be right creates the need for others to be wrong, and if something didn’t go well, surely someone is to blame. Let’s fire them.
Next, we talk about what is missing. Often, it is something simple that the business leader could not see because they don’t have a clear perspective. So much time is spent working in their business, that they can’t clearly see what is obvious to me; an outsider with no dog in the race. Sometimes it gets more complicated; recognizing that something is missing gets us a long way toward providing it. Business leaders value an outside perspective, especially when it is followed with a keen action plan and strategy.
Which brings me to our next question: What is next? The breakthroughs that occur during this process are mighty and powerful, but only if they cause determined action. This is where we begin to put together strategic plans to attack the pieces and parts of the business that need sharpening.
What is the reason for this process? When the leader is truly committed to the process, and when the butts are in the right seats, phenomenal growth will occur. The business flourishes by gaining a true commitment to open communication and dialogue, including all employees in the creative thought process.
My coaching practice focuses on creating balance of mind, body, and spirit. A fully engaged person at work is happier at home, and a fulfilling home life adds to a person’s effectiveness at work. It just makes good sense! This process of questioning is also effective for people to ask themselves regarding their personal life. The questions: What is working, what is not working, what is missing, what is next, will lead to an enriched life led with a vigorouos commitment to success and happiness.
When is the last time you set out to make someone’s day? We all have the power to do so. What do we get back for that?
Each time you do kind and thoughtful things, you feel good about yourself. You make the other person feel valued and loved. You create positive energy which bounces off of them and comes back to you. You are reinforcing the fact that there are good people in this world.
How cool would it be if you chose to be intentional about making someone’s day, each and every day? Making a commitment like this pushes you to make a difference in quantifiable ways. It drives you to be your best self, and stimulates productive thought processes that may lead to something even bigger.
The best way to make someone’s day is to do so without revealing yourself. Random acts of kindness are needed in this world. Sometimes, making someone’s day is as simple as acknowledging them for something good that they do. Making direct eye contact and smiling at people allows important human connections to occur, and perpetuates a happy world.
My coach asked me recently, “Are you stuck in struggle”?
My first response was NO. Then, I began to think about his question. It’s a really great question!
We have all been exposed to messages about the power of positive thinking. With the media attention that “The Secret” is getting, we are now practically bombarded with wisdom about the Law of Attraction, and related material. As I’ve stated in an earlier blog, I have always lived my life with a positive attitude, and have subscribed to the idea that we create our own reality. “The Secret” did not enlighten me; it served as validation.
The fact is, we do create our own reality, based upon our reaction to our surroundings. We make choices about our life, which leads us down a path filled with more challenges and more decisions. We can choose to be happy. We can choose to be unhappy. We can choose to surround ourselves with others who think like we do. We can choose to be a victim. We can choose to rise above the drama of being stuck in struggle.
What is the struggle in which we are stuck? If our days went by without challenges, we would live a boring life and would not experience growth. So we meet our challenges in various ways, depending on our mindset and our disposition. Is this a choice? Of course it is.
We can choose to be stuck in struggle, or we can choose to make changes in our life that make us happier. We can work directly through the struggle, or we can sit inside it and wallow in our own grief. The Law of Attraction states that we attract what we think about. If we’re wallowing, guess what we’ll get more of?
I think it’s healthy to be aware that we might be stuck. If we’re mindful of the possibility, and we don’t like the concept, we’re much more likely to dig ourselves out of it. Imagine how it would feel if we were swimming in molasses; and then imagine the freedom of swimming in water instead. How liberating to be moving freely!
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