"No secrets" management?

Posted by: Jena McGregor on July 16, 2007

In reading all the coverage about Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, I went back to a 2004 profile that a former colleague of mine, Charles Fishman, wrote when we worked together at Fast Company. The story, “The Anarchist’s Cookbook,” is a great profile of Mackey and includes a discussion of what he calls his “no-secrets” management style. For instance, Whole Foods will share each employee’s pay with all of his or her colleagues.

Given the recent revelations of Mackey’s fondness for aliases—Mackey was found to be making anonymous posts to a Yahoo! investor message board under the pseudonym “rahodeb,” a scramble of the letters in his wife’s name—Mackey’s “no secrets” management style seems particularly ironic. But as it turns out, Mackey has called himself other names, too. Mackey, who took off four months in 2002 to hike the Appalachian Trail, gave himself a “trail name,” a common practice of Appalachian Trail hikers. His was “Strider,” a character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.”

But even “Strider,” it turns out, has an alter ego. (An alter ego for an alter ego? This is getting weird.) As Fishman closes his story:

But as with much about Mackey, that nickname is not quite what it seems. “Strider isn’t his real name; it’s his nickname on the trail. He is really Aragorn, the king. But he wasn’t a king on the trail. In 2002, when I was hiking, I was certainly the richest guy hiking the Appalachian Trail. I was a kind of secret king. But that wasn’t my identity, or my role, on the trail.”

Come again?

Reader Comments

moonstone

July 21, 2007 1:49 PM

"Come again?"?
That quote makes perfect sense to an AT thru-hiker, and it doesn't come close to supporting your sarcastic query. Don't cram what you don't understand into your limited world-view.

Thomas

July 23, 2007 12:08 PM

Moonstone,

I'm familiar with the Appalachian Trail. I have family members who hiked it, one business associate who finished it, and one friend who recently finished it. In fact, I dropped my friend off at Springer Mountain the year she finished it.

The trail names fascinated me because they all seemed so appropriate to each hiker but would only make sense if they explained how they got it. It's not a status thing but in good fun. Oh the tales they told me about the people they met, mostly kind individuals in the spirit of the trail angels spreading their trail magic.

But the one type of hiker they invariably ran across were the snooty know-it-all who think they're better than the non-hikers. These snobby hikers usually give themselves their own trail names because they wouldn't want the ones other hikers call them sotto voce.

Thomas

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