John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, delivered the keynote address at the Winter Fancy Food Show yesterday in a session presented by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade and Social Venture Network. Mackey discussed his latest book, "Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business," delving into the growth of capitalism and the struggle to present a positive image to today’s society.

“People have evolved, and yet business has not evolved,” Mackey said to a roomful of retailers and suppliers attending or exhibiting at the Show. “If we’re going to be successful as businesspeople in the future, we’re going to have to exemplify a more conscious way of being and a more conscious way of representing organizations.”

The specialty food retail mogul delved into the key facets of a successful conscious business, such as the importance of identifying a business’s higher purpose. “You might ask yourself what is the higher purpose of your particular business: What difference is it making in the world?” he explained.

Mackey also described a need for a shift in leadership dynamics. “I’m a great believer that, in this conscious capitalism and world that we’re trying to create, we’ve got to have a different kind of leader,” he said. “One who is purpose driven, one who’s authentic, one who’s caring, one who’s more spiritually aware and involved.”

Following his presentation, NASFT president Ann Daw presented the winners of the inaugural Leadership Awards, honoring outstanding contributions to the specialty food industry and beyond in the categories of Citizenship, Business Leadership and Vision.