I always try to be open, whether that’s open to new people, new ideas, or trying new things. Doing so allows you to learn things from other people, about yourself, and about life that you may not have been exposed to otherwise.
This mindset has surfaced many important things in my life: my newfound love for pickleball, adopting a vegan lifestyle, becoming an avid long-distance hiker, and choosing to live in a vegetarian co-op in 1976 – something that ultimately led to the creation of Whole Foods.
First – a little backstory. I attended both Trinity University in San Antonio and the University of Texas Austin for college, but I never actually graduated. I didn’t like being forced to read books and study topics I wasn’t interested in, so I decided to only take elective classes in subjects I liked – philosophy, religion, psychology, world literature, and history. By the time I left school, I had earned 120 credits and no degree.
While at UT, I decided to move into a vegetarian housing co-op named Prana House. This was in 1976 and I was about 22 or 23 years old. I wasn’t even a vegetarian and really didn’t know anything about food! I was young, curious, and interested in all things counterculture, and wanted to try something new and meet cool people.
These hopes materialized as I met my girlfriend and future co-founder of both Safer Way and Whole Foods, Renee Lawson there. I also developed a passion for cooking, started to enjoy eating vegetables, and became the food buyer at the co-op. I often describe this as the time my “food consciousness was awakened” and without that, there likely wouldn’t be Whole Foods Market today.
So, here’s another lesson:
Lesson #71: Don’t be afraid to try something new.