An interview with two former college roommates who are changing the business world

John Moore of Brand Autopsy points (in giant letters, multiple times) to this interview with Kip Tindell (CEO and co-founder of the Container Store) and John Mackey (CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods Market).

It’s a long and fascinating conversation with the two former college roommates.

Some highlights:

  • One of the Container Store’s six guiding principles is the man in the desert, a symbol for seeing every customer as a suffering man in the desert who just arrived at their oasis:

Container Store employees are told the story of a man crawling through the desert gasping for a drink of water. He finds an oasis, where an ordinary retailer gives him water. If it had been a Container Store retailer, employees are told, he would have been told “Here’s some water. Do you also want something to eat? And I see from your wedding ring that you are married. How about we call your family and let them know you’re here.” The principle is that you’re cheating the customer if you are not offering them the opportunity to buy more.

  • Tindell on what he really wanted to major in:

I wanted to major in philosophy. My dad wouldn’t let me. He told me that I’d have to pay my own way if I majored in philosophy. So I majored in English, which is, of course, exactly the same thing.

But I’ve met very few entrepreneurs who created their businesses [to please shareholders]. What Kip and I both realized is that if you manage the business on behalf of all of these interconnected stakeholders–the customers, the team members/employees, the suppliers, the investors, the greater community, the environment–that if you create value for all of them, they’re all interdependent. And that that will create the most successful business.

  • Mackey points to a book I’ve never heard of, Firms of Endearment. It identifies 30 companies that adopted business models based on similar philosophies to Whole Foods and the Container Store and are now highly successful. Mackey thinks the word is out and that these ideologies are going to spread fast because this is the natural law of business–success tends to be copied.

So there’s just a few highlights. If you’re considering starting something or changing something, this interview is worth the read.

PS – This is the first online article I’ve read from a mainstream media source that actually linked out. How refreshing!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “An interview with two former college roommates who are changing the business world

  1. Cale … yeah, the GIANT BOLD LETTERS was over-the-top. However, for much of the reasons (highlights) you listed … I felt it was important to get people to notice the must-read conversation. And from the looks of your post, you will ace the quiz on Friday. Thanks for the link love, so glad you also found the article worthwhile.

  2. John, thanks a bunch for the giant bold letters. It was a busy morning and I probably would have overlooked the article had you not gone heavy on the caps lock key. In a world where everyone is pointing to something, sometimes we need a little extra jolt.

    So thank you for pointing to it, I loved the article–and this might be the first quiz I’ve ever looked forward to.

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