... find someone who needs you and roll up your sleeves and go serve them. And at the same time you're doing that. Ask yourself who you are.
...but we're going to tell the story the best way that we can given the resources that we have, which you know, are not super plentiful. You know, we don't have a lot of money for advertising and things like that. So we just do a little bit by little bit. ...

Today’s episode is with Shawn Askinosie.

Shawn is a former criminal defence lawyer turned craft chocolate makerShawn is the founder of Askinosie Chocolate, a small-batch direct trade chocolate company based in Missouri in the US.

Every year Shawn travels to Ecuador, Tanzania and the Philippines because Askinosie Chocolate sources 100% of their cocoa beans directly from the farmers, buying the beans at a price that is way above the fairtrade price.

Not only do they make the best tasting craft chocolate but they also practice an open-book policy and profit-sharing with their farmers. They provide free lunches to students and build schools in Tanzania.

And at the local level, they have developed a program targeting the youth “to inspire students, through the lens of artisan chocolate making, to be global citizens, know themselves and their opportunities and embrace the idea that small businesses can solve world problems”.

I find this really inspiring.

When I first heard that Shawn and his daughter Lauren, who also works at Askinosie Chocolate, have written a book, I immediately bought it because I was eager to find out more about this bean-to-bar company and learn all the operational details of this small business whose mission is also to make our world a little bit better.

But in fact, I discovered so much more in their book called “Meaningful Work - A Quest To Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul”.

This book is on serving others, on finding our vocation in our own sorrows, on building trust, and growth and our place in the world among many other very important topics.

I recommended this book to many of my friends, especially those who were looking for a career change.

So in this episode, we started our conversation with one of my favourite parts of the book which is Shawn’s personal experience of discovery of his vocation and spirituality in a broad sense.

In this episode, Shawn will also explain why Askinosie Chocolate is not a fairtrade company.

Of course, we talked about success.

But I have to warn you about something quite embarrassing or revealing: when Shawn was revealing the ugly side of the global cocoa trade and how it is feeding child slavery, the dog of my neighbour also got very angry and you will hear it... 


ON figuring out what to do next before starting a new career (4:42)

ON this murder trial that made Shawn realize he couldn't do it anymore (6:48)

ON  visiting serving others, revisiting an old wound, soul searching and creating emotional space  (11:34)

ON  silence, connection, transcendence, finding solace  (18:46)

ON  vocation and the framework of the business of Askinosie Chocolate (24:20)

ON  the ugly truth behind the global cocoa trade (29:02)

ON  direct trade, community development and doing business differently (38:22)

ON the power of small companies to do much more than fair trade (42:13)

ON  Shawn's definition of success and how much is enough  (46:00)

ON  the fallacy of the "social" enterprise, the need to some make sacrifices and our relationship with money (48:35)

ON  finding someone who needs you, go serve them and ask yourself who you really are  (58:01)


CONNECT WITH Shawn Askinosie / Askinosie Chocolate



BUY Shawn's Book: Meaningful Work: A Quest To Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul



Mitch Albom author of Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson

Khalil Gibram, on Sorrow

John O'Donohue on Thresholds

 Thomas Merton on Awareness

Michael A. Singer on Soul

The Harkin-Engel Protocol

Nestle and Big Chocolate Can Keep Using Enslaved Childree ... For now - So Says the U.S. Supreme Court

Terry Collingsworth, Human Rights Lawyer

Ari Weinzweig, Founder of Zingerman Deli


Host: Leekei Tang

Contact: hello (at)

Music credits: Ukulele Fun by Liosound Music / Wooden Xylophone by Floraphonic

shawn askinosie

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