#24: We had to change… Whole Foods Market HQ’s Journey through COVID-19 with Jess Kolko

Music by: SAICS  | Music produced by: Keith Milutinovic


  • 1:46 - Check in with Jess Kolko, one of Caneel's coaching clients who works at Whole Foods Market HQ.


  • 2:52 - How Jess became a long-distance runner.


  • 4:45 - Jess talks about her position at Whole Foods Market HQ and the moment when the news of change hit her and her team.


  • 6:56 - Caneel and Jess talk about what challenges Jess has been facing during this crisis and how she would have responded a year ago before she began leadership coaching with Caneel.


  • 9:36 - There is a burden that leaders have to not fail themselves or their team. Jess discusses her journey struggling with perfectionism and allowing herself to be vulnerable and a human being and not just a stereotypical leader. 


  • 10: 45 - Owning mistakes is important because people mess up and leaders have a huge burden about not feeling like they can mess up and feeling that they need to have all the answers and not ask for help.


  • 13:49 - Why Jess decided to take on a professional leadership coach and begin working with Caneel.


  • 17:00 - Examining the crisis and the reaction Jess had. Jess discusses how she managed her team and made major shifts at Whole Foods Market HQ very quickly. Jess talks about the Drama triangle and working above the line.


  • 20:12 - There is a need for emotions when we lead. Caneel and Jess talk about working with emotions and using them to your advantage including the concept of intelligent fear.


  • 22:41 - Jess talks about how quickly things can turn to chaos without a structured and clear management style.


  • 27:23 - Caneel asks about the moments over the past month that were particularly challenging for her and her team during this COVD-19 crisis.


  • 30:30 - Jess discusses some of the success she and her team at Whole Foods Market has had during this uncertain crisis because of her leadership coaching work she has done with Caneel.


  • 33:30 - Caneel and Jess talk about how her team, her leadership, and the world will be different after this crisis is over.


  • 36:56 - Jess gives advice to managers and leaders out there who are just learning about conscious leadership and what they can do to manage during a crisis situation like COVID-19.

The world has seen dramatic changes taking place through many businesses and the way we live our daily lives due to the COVID-19 crisis. On this episode, we speak to Jess Kolko at Whole Foods Market HQ to get a look inside how one of the most beloved grocers in the US has quickly adjusted and managed their company and their team to, not only keep business running, but also help all of us who rely on essential services like these during uncertain times. 

More About Jess:


After over 15 years of kitchen experience in a variety of restaurants, Jess Kolko knew that there must be a better way to teach people that they really are what they eat. As a devotee of whole, natural foods, Jess already knew what was good for us, but as an information and science enthusiast she wanted to know why.


She returned to school to obtain an additional degree in Nutrition with honors at the University of Texas at Austin. Once she acquired her Registered Dietitian credential Jess joined Whole Foods Market as a Registered Dietitian and Culinary Educator. When not helping to change the health landscape of America through innovations in the grocery retail space, Jess can often be found running, biking, gardening and cooking.

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