Today we’re going deep with entrepreneur Shawn Askionsie!

Not only is Shawn an exceedingly intelligent, kind, and driven individual, but he also happens to be the man behind the creation of my two absolute favorite chocolate bars! Yes, as any chocolate connoisseurs may have now realized from his last name, Shawn is the founder of Askinosie Chocolate, the company behind the most delicious, mind-blowing chocolate I have tried (and I’ve tasted a lot of chocolate!). 

You will of course learn a good amount about artisanal chocolate from Shawn, but the main theme of this episode is also the subject of his book, Meaningful Work: A Quest To Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul. Many will be able to relate to this self-reflective and motivating conversation as Shawn explains how he went from high-powered criminal defense attorney to dark chocolate entrepreneur, and you will be inspired by the integrity and passion infused into every aspect of his work (Askinosie Chocolate is award-winning for good reason!).

Shawn talks about how a career high was immediately followed by an overwhelming feeling that “something wasn’t right” in his life and the power that comes with truly surrendering your dependency on the outcome. He also highlights how often we perceive what is actually our greatest strength as our greatest “weakness” and brings up a profound quote from one of his favorite books, The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, about the power of letting go: “Surrender is perhaps the greatest form of worship.” Shawn points out that surrendering is powerful because it allows you to shed expectations for what you thought your life would be, and connect with your true nature (something that is difficult when you don’t surrender control). 

Shawn also gets real about the dark truth behind the commercial chocolate industry; breaking down the true meaning behind the “Fair-Trade” label and revealing shocking facts about it that will forever change how you choose and buy chocolate. We then wrap up with a brief discussion about the importance of having an open mindset and seeking out challenges in life.

Check out Askionsie.com to try Shawn’s phenomenal chocolate (my personal two favorite flavors are the 88% dark chocolate and dark chocolate mint!) and click here to order Shawn’s book, Meaningful Work!

TIMESTAMPS:

It is important to learn the distinction between the mass-produced chocolate and the special chocolate prepared without slave labor and with regulations.  [01:55]

It’s not about the chocolate, it’s about the malnourished kids who work in those factories. [06:41]

Shawn describes his journey from criminal defense attorney to chocolate. [08:55]

What are the ethical principles of a defense attorney? [15:49]

How did Shawn learn to make chocolate in an ethical way? [22:11]

What does it mean to temper chocolate? You have to raise and lower the temperatures perfectly. [26:51]

The next step is marketing the “bean to Bar” chocolate. [32:07]

Reverse Scale is questioning the idea that if you are going to start a business you need it to grow. [33:50]

What are some steps a listener can take who might be extricating from the career that’s causing disillusionment and burnout? [44:37]

What is the difference between bean to bar chocolate and the standard chocolate we can buy everywhere which are made with child labor? There are 1.58 million child slaves in West Africa.

[54:19]

The Fair-Trade label doesn’t indicate that the farmers get the money. It is deceiving. [01:04:41]

We are in an age where we can research for the ethics and values of the things we buy. [01:08:48]

LINKS:

QUOTES:

  • “Often, we find our greatest strength can be our greatest weakness.”
  • “If we can reach a place — even if momentarily — where we surrender this notion of outcome dependency, then we have a chance to live a real, true life.”
  • “Sometimes just putting the question in our head can really open up a flow of understanding and awareness that we’ve never even experienced before.”
  • “Write a long-term vision of greatness for you personally, for your firm, for your idea, or for your life.”
  • “Michael Singer says, ‘Surrender is perhaps the greatest form of worship,’ and I love that, because surrender doesn’t mean ‘Plan B will help me.’ It means letting go.”

LISTEN:

 

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B.Rad Podcast

Brad (1m 55s): Hey, listeners, get ready. We are going to go deep and talk to a very interesting kind, evolved and intensely driven, competitive human being entrepreneur by the name of Shawn Askinosie. Those of us in the deep chocolate appreciation kind of sewer realm, we’ll recognize that last name. He is the proprietor of ASCA nosy chocolate and in my searches far and wide across the globe right now currently ranking in the top spot are my two favorite bars from Askinosie. And that would be the 88% dark chocolate and the dark chocolate peppermint, absolutely exquisite mindblowing. Brad (2m 37s): You’re going to learn a fair amount about artisan chocolate in this show. But we also are going to centerpiece the discussion around his new book, which is titled Meaningful Work, a quest to do great business, find your calling and feed your soul. What a beautiful and descriptive subtitle and Shawn’s story is really captivating. I think a lot of us can relate because he talks about this sort of career burnout situation, where he ascended to a really high level. He was a high pressure, high profile trial lawyer in Springfield, Missouri, everything was going great. He was grooving. He won a big case. And then he sort of had that day of reckoning, where he had to kind of question his life purpose, his direction, his destiny, and that led him to the crazy ill-advised transition from the legal world to something he truly knew nothing about. Brad (3m 32s): You’re going to be blown away about what a whim this was. But all of a sudden here he is buying an old building, making a factory from scratch, learning how to make dark chocolate from scratch. And this was, oh, about 15 years ago. And that was back in the day when there wasn’t many bean to bar artists and chocolate makers. Now there’s hundreds in America alone. So he kind of was the trendsetter in this wonderful emerging business. And it’s really important to learn about the distinction between the mass produced chocolate, which Shawn comes straight out, pulls no punches and says, look, you’re buying the product of slave labor from poorly regulated countries in Africa versus his business model where he has traveled across the world to countries like Tanzania and the Philippines and met these farmers and does business dealings directly with them. Brad (4m 20s): They do profit sharing where they translate their accounting books into the native language and actually reward these farmers and fairly compensate them. And so when you purchase a premium product, that’s been thoughtfully produced and sourced, ah, you feel better inside. You’re making the world a better place, and you’re also getting an exquisite creation. And hopefully you’ll all get as passionate about dark chocolate as I am after listening to this show. Shawn’s won a lot of awards with his products, he loves to compete. He loves to put out the best product, but he also has a really interesting twist on his business strategy. And you’re going to learn about concepts like reverse scale instead of obsessing with growth, getting really good at being just the right size and keeping “tethered” Brad (5m 5s): is his word tethered to your original dream of why you started the business. So, so we’re going to go deep in this show, it’s going to get a little spiritual. It’s going to be a journey of self reflection. Shawn’s going to give you guidance about creating your vision of greatness. That is your dream for the future. For the next 10 years, let’s say in getting very specific and detailed, but doing it the right way and getting your shit together in terms of mind, body, and soul. Before you sit down to write this narrative. Fun stuff like that, interwoven with this great entrepreneurial story and a fine education about artisan dark chocolate. What a great show with Shawn Askinosie enjoy. Brad (5m 46s): I have SHawn Askinosie here. Did I pronounce that correctly? Shawn (5m 51s): You did. Brad (5m 52s): If you haven’t heard of this name people, then you’re not eating the best chocolate in the world. Those of us watching on YouTube, I have one of your bars here, probably the best one, dark chocolate peppermint, in my opinion, but we’re going to have a wonderful conversation because not only are you an acclaimed chocolate tier the, the journey to get there has been really fascinating. And I think something of great inspiration to, to many people that are dreaming of, you know, the most fulfilling, exciting lively career. So we could start by mentioning your new book. The title is Meaningful Work, a quest to do great business, find your calling, and feed your soul. Brad (6m 34s): And boy that ain’t easy these days. So maybe you should just take us through it. Shawn, I can’t wait to hear about this. Shawn (6m 41s): Well, thank you. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to speak with you and the, you know, it, isn’t this the way it is, especially once you get a little miles on you or you, you have, you have them literally and figuratively in all ways, but in my way, the, the age years we, the reflection can be a little deeper. And so for me, as I look back on this, it’s the, the journey of, of determining and kind of finding another inspiration and passion after my law career is probably the real story and not the chocolate. And here I am in chocolate. Shawn (7m 21s): And one of the things that we say all the time and in my little factory in my little chocolate factory is it’s not about the chocolate. It’s about the chocolate. And what I mean by that is, and hopefully we’ll get a chance to talk about this, but it’s not about the chocolate. It’s about these malnourished kids in the Philippines and Tanzania that we’re feeding sustainably every day. It’s about the chocolate university program, where we engage local kids in Springfield, Missouri, and our business, and teach them about business and teach them. And there was a world beyond Springfield and how we profit share with farmers. And that has nothing to do with chocolate. But on the other hand, we’re, we’re, we, we face immense competition. These days when I started, there were only three people starting about the same time and it’s everything about the chocolate and I want to win awards internationally. Shawn (8m 5s): I want to make the best tasting chocolate we can. And so it’s, it’s both, it’s totally about the chocolate and it’s totally not about the chocolate and the, the, the, the crazy thing about it is this path to get there took me almost five years, and I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a trust fund or something like that, where I could sit around while I was facing this daunting challenge. I was a criminal defense lawyer, and I did that for almost 20 years, including the time while I was searching for this next inspiration. And my specialty area was the defense of murder cases and very serious felonies. And, and that kind of work is not the kind of work that you can just phone in and you really need to be engaged because there’s so much at stake. Shawn (8m 55s): And I, I, I didn’t know anything else. I knew nothing else besides the courtroom. I didn’t have any hobbies or anything. So I embarked on this very circuitous path to find my inspiration or passion Brad (9m 11s): Of well, where you at least a consumer. Did you have that going for you, a chocolate, a chocolate eater? Shawn (9m 18s): Not really. I, I tell you what my wife and I, we love to go to New Mexico and we’ve been going there for many years. We love the high desert. And so there was a restaurant there in Santa Fe that made chocolate desserts. And that chef kind of inspired me to make this chocolate dessert chocolate. Budino kind of an Italian chocolate pudding. That was really my first encounter. And at the same time, I had developed a hobby, which was grilling. I bought a big green egg, and then another one to just learn how to cook ribs and hamburgers and stuff like that. And then I started baking and then I started making chocolate desserts and that’s, but I really, during that time, or before then, I didn’t really have any discerning tastes for chocolate or, I mean, I, a lot of sugar, you know, donuts and stuff like that, Brad (10m 6s): Especially in the courtroom preparing? Shawn (10m 9s): Yeah. Yeah. Brad (10m 11s): I understand that criminal defense work is, is a high burnout position with, with all that stress involved. And I suppose you got to that point in your career where first you were pursuing hobbies and then maybe the hobbies picked up more steam than your, your passion for it, for banging it out in the courtroom or something? Shawn (10m 31s): Well, it was, it was the reverse. So this, this passion for trial work and for the courtroom, I’d had much of my life. My dad was a criminal defense lawyer and I grew up with it. And then he died when I was young. And so I wanted to follow in his footsteps and there was just this real drive and it didn’t feel like work. And so I, I, I could, you know, be working weekends and trying to better understand DNA evidence or a blood spatter or gunshot residue or whatever it may be. And I just, I loved it. Shawn (11m 11s): But I didn’t lose a jury trial in all those years. And I, I, at the conclusion of a murder trial, and I write about this a little bit in the book, but it just, and it was a successful conclusion. I believed in the case, it was really, really hard fought. The jury was sequestered, very high profile and it just kinda hit me. I, I, there was a moment right before the judge decided what he was going to do and take it away from the jury and let, and he was going to decide to put my client on probation for murder, which doesn’t happen. And I just said, I don’t know what’s going on. I won, I have this money. I have attention. I can take whatever cases I want. Shawn (11m 52s): It’s just not, something’s not right. You know, that’s when I started looking for hobbies and thinking that I could sort of, at first, I thought I could kind of buy my way out of it. In other words, I thought I could purchase something. And this was, this was when I was in my early forties. And so I bought a convertible Mercedes thinking that that would, you know, that that would solve all of my problems and it didn’t. And then I, then that’s when I said, you know what? I probably need some hobbies if I’m going to find a new passion, that’s how that started. So it was really just this jolt, you know, outside the courtroom. And, and then I started having panic attacks and that really told me, but I didn’t know they were panic attacks at the time. Shawn (12m 33s): I thought, I, I thought maybe I was having a heart attack in the courtroom. And I ended up spending the night in the hospital and my doctor just, he basically just said, you’re fine. You need to go see a psychologist, which I do. Brad (12m 46s): So you had this victory, which was the thing that caused you for contemplation. And I can kind of relate to the, the athletic world where, well, they just had that documentary, the weight of gold, where these athletes come home with a sense of emptiness after they’ve achieved the highest pinnacle. And I think if you’re so results oriented in life, you do have that, that day of reckoning, when everything goes your way. And then it’s like, then what, and perhaps that was the, the courtroom model of the Olympic gold medal. Shawn (13m 16s): Right. And I know you write about this a lot, and I’ve seen this a lot on your website and it’s, it’s wonderful when we reach this point in life. Whenever it may be not necessarily dependent on age, but it’s where we’re not dependent on outcome. And, and, and when we can reach a place where even if, even if momentarily, we can sort of surrender that notion of outcome dependency, then we have the chance to live a real life, a true life. And so, yeah, I think, and I think, I think that’s part of it, even though, while I was doing it. And while I was loving it, I, the outcome, I mean, I wanted to win, but it wasn’t all about the winning. I mean, I enjoyed the minutiae of it. Shawn (13m 57s): I enjoyed preparing for cross examination. It was work and it was hard. And I think many of your listeners, viewers can relate to it. And, and, you know, when you think that you’re in what you want to do for so long, and then it slips away from you, that can be a very, it’s a, it can be a really uncomfortable feeling, especially if you’ve sort of deepened this skillset and your talents to do this. And you’re at the top of your game, by all observations, you should be totally happy. And Brad (14m 31s): what’s your problem, man. Shawn (14m 33s): Exactly. And, and, and so then when that, you know, when that’s, when that’s taken away from you, then, I mean, then you end up, I mean, many, many people can, I think end up like me, I was depressed. I had anxiety and, and I couldn’t figure a way out. And so I ended up, you know, taking antidepressants to try to help me, which I needed. And it was tough. Really tough. Brad (14m 58s): Yeah. I wonder if it’s of a necessary, almost a necessary part of the story. In other words, you pushed yourself so hard. You rose to such a high level in one of the most demanding careers you could imagine. And the, the, the high heights that you reach are maybe going to predict, you know, a more, more, more turmoil and more self reckoning than someone who’s delivering mail for 27 years and has got their route dialed in. So the, the highs and the lows are muted because the stakes are lower. Just like you described when you go into a courtroom and the adrenaline and the preparation, it’s just, it, it can’t lead to a puffy cloud in the sky, or, you know, horseback ride in New Mexico. Brad (15m 44s): And then everything’s fine. You go back to the next case, it’s, it feels like that to me. Shawn (15m 50s): Right. And again, something else that you write about and talk about is this idea. And I think this, you write that this is true in your life, that our greatest strength is often our greatest weakness. And we, we find it, we find our greatest strength will sort of be it’ll be working for us for all this time. And then it turns around Brad (16m 8s): And then it places, you Shawn (16m 10s): Know, like this monster that just turns around and faces, and you’re like, wait, wait, but you, you were helping you. You’re on my team. You were my greatest strength for me. That was, I could outwork my opponents. I wasn’t smarter than prosecutors and all the lawyers and teams of government lawyers, they had definitely wasn’t smarter, but I could work harder and I could uncover every stone that needed to be uncovered. I always knew the answer of everything that was going to happen in the courtroom. And so I had this driving, just this dry, the sheer drive to research, to talk to witnesses, to understand, and to just dig and dig and dig and dig and dig and dig. Shawn (16m 51s): And so when I thought, well, I need to find my next inspiration and passion that I would deploy those same skills of digging, researching, talking, investigating, finding the answers because I am a hard charging driven person. And that has worked for me all these years and that wasn’t working. And that, and that was that, that actually that “failure” then became a driver of my despair because as this monster turned around on me, my greatest strength, it, it, it, it beat me. It beat me into submission essentially. Whew. Brad (17m 30s): You mentioned something about the case and I may, might be a taboo question to ask, like asking a race car driver. Tell me about your recent crashes. I, I did ask a race car driver that once, and he stared me down like the death stare of all time. But I think the, you know, the casual observer thinking of a criminal defense lawyer, and we see the sensationalization of the law and crime on TV, both in drama and in real life. And, you know, our reference point is the OJ trial, how his, his hot shot lawyers did such an exceptional job and, and destroy the, the, the pathetic prosecution. And now this guy’s walking free and you said, you know, I believed in this case. And so I’m wondering, like, were there cases that you didn’t believe in and you’re still compelled to go do the digging and do your due diligence, even though maybe your mind and your heart is in a different spot based on the, you know, based on the, the accused crime and so forth. Brad (18m 25s): And how do you reconcile that? Shawn (18m 28s): The short answer is yes, I did do that. And I, I, but I will say fortunately over my 20 year career and I don’t, I, there are many public defenders out there who don’t have the luxury that I have, I could pick and choose. So I could decide if I wanted to ski down the black slope or not a public defender has no choice. And so I, I, but yes, there were times that I was retained in cases that I knew the person was completely guilty of the crime charged, but the, but I was fortunate enough to not have to take those to a jury. So in other words, I didn’t, I wasn’t put in this untenable position of thing, the ethical principles of my profession against this obligation to do everything I could within the moral and ethical bounds of the law to, to, to achieve this person’s freedom. Shawn (19m 26s): So in other words, I didn’t have to lie to a jury or a judge, and I wasn’t gonna do that. I wasn’t gonna put myself in that position. And so what I would do in cases, and often these weren’t th this might be like a, an assault case, or it might be a really serious drug case where in that instance, what I would do is I would focus on my obligation under the constitution. That is if there’s, is there a challenge that I can make that is a procedural challenge, but important, for example, did the law enforcement officers violate this person’s fourth amendment rights, and did they enter their home with an illegal search warrant? Shawn (20m 7s): And I can challenge that and then have evidence excluded. And if the result is that the person’s case is dismissed. And so be it. And I felt completely good about that because I believed that I was doing what I was supposed to do to defend this person’s rights under the constitution. I was following my constitutional obligation. And, and I was, I was protecting your rights, not you, but the, the collective view, the royal you in, in the event that you are innocent and charged, and your rights are violated by law enforcement. You want people like me, who’ve come before you to make sure that the law is followed and that we are a country of laws, and that we follow the rule of law. Shawn (20m 52s): That’s very important. And, and I took that really seriously. Brad (20m 57s): Yes, very well said, wow. I mean, go, go to some other country, if you want the, the, the vigilante style, if, you know, put some guy away and throw the book away, cause our emotions get in, get involved. And that’s a, that’s a really important point that you’re just moving the story forward. And also that we have checks and balances here because Thomas Jefferson and the rest of them thought that might be better than just having the King decide to hang somebody Shawn (21m 23s): Well and layer on top of this, almost from the very beginning of my career, I started receiving death threats. So all throughout that 20 years that I described to you on and off, there were times in which people threatened to kill me or my family. And, and toward the end of my career, it was more often than not law enforcement people who were threatening to kill. And that, you know, it really, it didn’t bother me. I, I tried to accommodate for that. I took it very seriously, but it wasn’t the thing that sort of drove me out of law, those death threats. I mean, I guess the sort of combined effect of that along with everything else, you know, just put me in a place where I was like, okay, I’ve done this for 20 years and this is enough. Shawn (22m 9s): Now I need something else. Brad (22m 11s): Wow. So when the chocolate is melting on your palate, it has a better taste. Oh my goodness, Shawn. Yeah. What a, what a, what a tee up, but we will get into the, the lovely world of chocolate. And I guess you could, you could call this a turning point where you’re getting into your hobbies now, reflecting on your career direction. But to take that huge step. I remember reading the, the place where I think you, you, you decided to get into chocolate and then the next, the next mission was to learn about how to do it, or you bought the factory and then you said, Hey, let’s learn how to make the chocolate in sort of a reverse order there. Yeah. Let’s hear about, yeah. Shawn (22m 50s): That’s your build your parachute. Yeah. Build your parachute on the way down that, which is the true entrepreneur style. And the, there, there was a, a kind of a light bulb moment and we can, should you want to explore that later? But there was kind of this light bulb moment about making chocolate from scratch. And at that point, it really wasn’t being done in America. And so Brad (23m 16s): Is that, so?er Shawn (23m 20s): When I started looking at this, it was 2005. That’s the good moment for me. There was one other company in San Francisco Scharffenberger and in 2005, they sold to Hershey. And then there were about three of us at the same time that were kind of starting this in different parts of the country, really didn’t know each other. But when I had this aha moment in 2005, within three months of that light bulb, I was in the Amazon. And I was learning from farmers, how they influence the flavor of chocolate by how they harvest cocoa beans. I came back from back from that transformative experience and began to figure out how to wind down my law practice, which took a year. Shawn (24m 0s): I bought a building, started buying equipment from around the world. Did not know how to make chocolate on a larger scale. I could make it, you know, in my office, my law office, that paralegals and admin assistants would help me make chocolate, just little small batches, but it’s one thing, you know, people think about this all the time. They’re like, you know, you go over to somebody’s house or, or at least in the before times, and you’d bring your chocolate chip cookies or whatever brownies you may. And you’re like, people are like, those are awesome. You make the best chocolate chip cookies. Have you ever thought about starting a business? Well, thank you. Yeah. Let me just pause for a moment and tell your listeners, please call me if you’re thinking about that, because I can, I can tell you all the pitfalls of scale. Shawn (24m 42s): So making, you know, one pound of chocolate in your kitchen is not the same thing as making 200 pounds of it in a little factory. Whew, man, I really had to learn my lessons because I didn’t, I didn’t know how to do that. It was a whole different ball game than making it in my kitchen. So yeah, I bought all this equipment. I bought the factory. I’d renovated it. That took a year. I’d wound down my law practice and here I was, and I could not temper the chocolate. I couldn’t get it made. It really freaked me out for about four months. I mean, I stood in a little part of my building trying to temper the chocolate. And ultimately I bought a piece of equipment from Germany and called a temperer and a beautiful piece of equipment. And that solved my problem, solve my technical problem. Shawn (25m 25s): But yeah, so it started then, and my first chocolate bar was in May of 2007 and we’ve been buying from farmers and doing it ever since Brad (25m 33s): This factory was not a, it was something else. And you had to complete the spec it out for chocolate. Shawn (25m 39s): Yeah, It was nothing. I mean, it was a 100 year old building in a revitalizing part of our community that near, near a homeless shelter. The part of my factory didn’t have a concrete floor. It was just dirt. So, I mean, yeah, literally was a hundred year old building. I think it had been used as a cobbler repair place and a railroad supply. And it was nothing. It didn’t have electric, it had no electricity in it. Brad (26m 4s): Hope you got a good deal on it. You know what they’re beginning to, they’re begging you to move in the city of Springfield, handing your keys. Shawn (26m 11s): My, my, my, not my motto, but my practice is to buy high and sell low that’s what’s happened to me. So I don’t know, the month I’ve probably improved the property value a little bit, but it’s yeah, it’s fine. Yeah. But it’s a little factory that we, that I specked out and then learned how to use Brad (26m 30s): When you’re making it in your law office with the, the, the, the bright young law student who on summer internship, who knew that that was going to happen when they, when they, they took the job. But how do you make it in small batches? Are you talking about going from bean to bar or are you starting with some, I didn’t know. You could do that without the the fancy machinery. Shawn (26m 51s): No, you can do it. You can, in fact now, which I didn’t have the, the access to, but now you can buy like a kit almost online and, and buy the grinders. And I bought a grinder from India, a really small tabletop grinder to grind the beans. And then I used a popcorn popper to roast my, to roast my cocoa beans. And then I bought a little juicer to turn it in. And then I just tempered it, myself, people, anyone contemporary chocolate, and you’re in their kitchen. It’s really hard to do, but you can do it. Describe what Brad (27m 23s): That is, tempering and then discuss like it’s bigger scale. Shawn (27m 26s): Well, the, the idea of temper is to bind cocoa butter molecules to cocoa molecule. So a cocoa bean itself, just a cocoa bean that looks like an almond is about 47 to 52% fat. And that fat is cocoa butter. And so what you want to do when tempering the chocolate after the beans have been ground up, and it’s in a paste in a kind of liquid form, what you want to do is you want to reconstitute that. So it will be firm and hard. It will, the chocolate will snap, it’ll have a shiny appearance. So it’d be like tempering steel, tempering glass. And this idea is binding these molecules together so that they will adhere to each other and form a chocolate bar that won’t just bend and melt and it’ll look pretty. Shawn (28m 11s): And, and, you know, you can do this on your, on the stove by some people can do it by using emulsifiers that kind of cheat the process. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to use nothing. I wanted no additional ingredient. I wanted to be able to do it all on my own. But the problem is, is what you’re doing is you’re raising the temperature of this chocolate. So imagine it’s on your stove and you’re stirring it to make sure it won’t burn, or you do it in a double boiler. And you’re raising the temperature to a melting point of about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Then what you’re doing is you’re cooling the chocolate down just above the point where it’s going to solidify, then you’re stirring, and then you raise it up just a little bit, but not to the melting point. Shawn (28m 52s): You poured out in a mold and you’re, you’re good. But what, what is challenging, as I said is without an emulsifier, it’s really hard. I could do it in my kitchen. There’s other, other ways of doing it. You’ve maybe been on vacation and seen like candy shops where people are doing this on a marble slate. You know, they’re, they’re putting their cooling the chocolate down by doing this, but, but the, the, the, the problem is, is that what we found when I had all the equipment that I thought I needed. And a lot of this came from South America, and I was trying to do it at know, 250 kilos at a time. So I said, 200 pounds really, it’s more like 500 pounds. And, and so the problem is if we were off by a 10th of a degree, we lost the whole batch. Shawn (29m 36s): I’d lose a day of production. Now, the good news is we could remelt it and start again at 120 degrees and melt all the cocoa butter crystals. And then we’d have to re temper all over again. I couldn’t do that. I stood, you know, like a 10 by 10 space trying to do that for four months and this German tempering machine sort of automates that process that I described of raising and lowering the temperature so perfectly. And it, it, it’s a very cool process th that the way this machine works. And so it kind of did, it was able to control the temperature, that’s the bottom line, and it was able to control the temperature, but I mean, Oh, man, that was, I look back on those times. Shawn (30m 17s): And I, I really wondered, you know, have I made a big mistake here? What have I done? I mean, I could easily, at that point have gone back into the courtroom, you know, but man, it was tough. Brad (30m 26s): It’s like you were trying to go in between the home enthusiast and the giant factories who have, you know, running production at a Hershey’s or what have you. And now maybe people have kind of leveraged your, your initial struggles, because it seems like a, you know, a common product on the market now where we have these, these, you know, artisan chocolate that’s made from small batches and so forth. Shawn (30m 57s): Yeah. I started, like I said, there were about three of us now. There’s I don’t know, 250 in the house. Brad (31m 2s): Wow. Wow. In the USA only. Yeah. Yeah. Well, a rising tide floats all boats. I studied economics at UC Santa Barbara. And remember that abundance theory of the, of the marketplace where you can, he was smiling people that aren’t watching on YouTube. He was smiling when he said there’s 250 people making artisan chocolate now, because now it’s a fantastic market segment. Shawn (31m 24s): It is. And that’s, and that’s great because in the very beginning, you know, I was calling stores and fill in the blank city and saying, Hey, we have this bean to bar chocolate and I’m talking really nice specialty food stores. And they’re like, what? What’s that? What now? It’s Oh, sure. Yeah. Well let’s let us try. And, and the cool thing about is, you know, we’ve done this year after year, after year after year it’s it’s, you know, 14 years now almost. And so that’s one of the things I’m most proud of is the consistency with which our chocolate has been received. You know, we’ve, we continue to win awards even with all of the competition. Shawn (32m 5s): And I’m really, really proud of that. Brad (32m 7s): So you got the tempering down, you got the machine, you’re good to go. You a high five, everybody all around when you, when you do a successful production run. But then I imagine it was an uphill battle to get into the market. How did that go? Shawn (32m 24s): In the beginning? It was really challenging because, you know, we were selling, you know, an expensive chocolate bar back then. It might’ve been $7 and 50 cents for three ounces. Now it’s $8.50, but you know, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, those were our markets. And it was, it was tough. It was, I would say pretty tough, but we didn’t use a distributor. I didn’t want to, I wanted to do it myself. In other words, me and the other people, I wanted to be able to call stores, let them know who we were, tell them our ten second story. If I could, or 15 seconds, whatever they would let me say. And I wanted to do it that way as opposed to having a distributor. Shawn (33m 6s): And yes, of course it does help with margin if you don’t have a distributor, but, and we still don’t to this day. And we sell to about 900 stores around the country and we’re small, we’re 17 people full-time and that’s by design. And, and so it, it w it was hard. We started selling online back in those days, and, and now we sell a lot online and we have an ingredient part of our business, where we sell the same chocolate, but to, you know, places like Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago, they all have their hot cocoas and mochas use our chocolate and bakeries use it. And this has been really hard year though, for that part of the business for restaurants that have had to close. Shawn (33m 47s): So that’s been tough. Brad (33m 50s): Sure. So you talk about by design that you’re at this point of 17 full-time employees. There’s a, a concept that you detailed in the book called reverse scale. I’d love to hear more about that. Shawn (34m 4s): The, when I started the business, I knew I, you know, I knew that I wanted to work directly with farmers and I do that. And I have done that every year since I started in and I buy beans right now in the Philippines, in Tanzania, in Ecuador and in the, in, in the Amazon. And some of these farmers, like the one in Ecuador I’ve been buying from him, you know, since my first purchase was 2006, and I’ve been buying from him every year and we have another load of beans that will leave in a couple of weeks from Ecuador. And so I have long longterm relationships with farmers. And in the case, in, in the Philippines, it was in 2008, we just had a load, a container leave from there two weeks ago. Shawn (34m 50s): I just sent contracts to the farmers in Tanzania, yesterday. I’ve been working with them since 2010. And so I’m in constant contact with the farmers and have been during COVID time. And before that, I went there every year, I went to all these farms. So when I was getting ready to go to the Philippines in January last year, it would’ve been my 46th origin trip to go meet with farmers. And so, yeah, and so, you know, I want to have relationship with them. I want to see them. We profit share with them. We bring our financials translated into their language. Every other year, we have a program called Chocolate University where we take local high school students to meet cocoa farmers. Shawn (35m 35s): We’ve been doing that since 2010. And the I’m bringing all this up in the context of your question is because reverse scale, that’s a chapter in my book, and it’s tied to this idea that we are culturally conditioned to think if we’re going to start a business or start a thing, or do a thing that it needs to grow, it needs to be scalable scale, scale, scale. And why, why is that? Well, how quickly can it scale? Well, the chamber of commerce wants to know if your business is going to scale because it’s jobs for the community your friends want to know, because it means you’re going to be rich. Your investors want to know because they want a 40% return on their money. Shawn (36m 20s): And it’s the, it’s the in, in, in many circles in entrepreneurial life, it’s a sort of a mark of success that my business is such a great idea, that it really is truly scalable. And therefore you should think that I’m great. And so I’m trying to push against that idea. Yes, of course. And now we know more than ever that there are absolutely exceptions to that rule. Like what, how about a vaccine, for example? Yes. We want to scale the, you know, what out of that stuff, and we want it to go, go, go food relief, disaster relief. Yes. Let’s scale it. But what I want to ask people is, do you have an idea that that to you is valuable and maybe it only affects one person? Shawn (37m 5s): And is that enough? Yes, it’s enough. Push against this idea that we have to grow for the sake of growth we’re at this place where people are, all they’re doing is, is, is trying to grow so fast that they spend their lives, trying to find the person that’s going to replace them so they can then move higher up on the ladder. And then there’ll be somebody beneath them. That’s doing the same thing. And before you know, it, what happens, especially as an entrepreneur, really, any anyone, what happens before you know it is you’ve lost the sense of the reason of why you joined the business in the first place, or why you started the thing. And what, what happens is you’ve, you’ve lost the tether to your reason to do it in the beginning. Shawn (37m 51s): And you, you didn’t have a practice to hold onto it. So what I ask people to do is to develop a practice, a discipline of holding onto the tether of your idea of why you started and don’t lose it. And even, and I’m not suggesting that scale and tether are mutually exclusive. But what I am saying is that if you don’t pay attention to it, they can exclude each other. And so for me, for example, I have had experiences in Tanzania that I can point to, and that I do write about in the book that are for lack of a better term, divine. Shawn (38m 37s): They are lifting the veil of eternity. If you will, maybe Eckhart Tolle, I would say the eternal now, or that I’ve, I have had these, these moments of piercing through the veil or experiencing the veil lifting. And they have been so powerful. And, and often, you know, we’re, we’re taking students and watching them, you know, experience Tanzania for the first time. And if I had been spending my time consumed with growth, I might have not taken that trip. You know, I would have delegated that to someone else. Shawn (39m 17s): And I would have perhaps lost out on divine experiences in my life, in the last 10 or 15 years. And so I will do everything I can to hold on to that tether. And the, one of the ways that you hold on to the tether is by asking yourself the question which I write about in chapter three, which is titled How Much is Enough? How Much is Enough? And this is, this is where it all begins. And it, by the way, it’s a moving target. When you’re in your thirties, how much is enough is going to be different than when you’re, when you’re in your seventies or how much is enough Instagram likes or whatever, how much is enough Facebook followers, or how much is enough revenue for your business? Shawn (39m 60s): You know, these, these things are gonna change, but can you at least just ask yourself the question and maybe, you know, write it down and, and, and contemplate it and think about it? Because if you do, it’s a lot easier to stay tethered. Brad (40m 15s): Yeah. I think the, the cultural forces are so powerful that we, it, it pushes us away from even contemplating how we want to live our own life, especially when you’re in these refined professions where the so much is demanded of you and you kind of are feeling swept away that, well, I guess I better take on this next case because you know, the best guy for the job, or what have you, rather than saying, well, you may be the best guy for the job and maybe your chocolates, the favorite I’ve ever tasted in the world. And if it grew 10 fold, you know, that wouldn’t be that everyone would be tasting more great chocolate, but it’s your life. Brad (40m 55s): Shawn’s not mine. So we, we can still find you. But that does give me a follow up question of what if the demand is there and people are begging for your bars. And now, now you have to raise the price. You’ve only raised the price of a dollar in, in many years. That’s crazy, but, you know, would you, would you come to that point where you’d literally shut your door and say we’re out of stock? Or would you maybe, is it possible? And this is now is asking anyone back to the, you know, back to the book and the, and the lessons. Is there a way that you could maneuver this, where you could still be the guy traveling to Tanzania, but now you have a CEO who looks at all the, the money numbers and the hiring decisions and what, what stuff you’re not interested in? Shawn (41m 42s): The answer to your first question is yes. I’ve done this long enough that I would feel comfortable hiring a president or CEO, should that opportunity come up so, yes, I would absolutely be open to that. And I would have had a track record of 15 years of doing it myself. So I know what it feels like. And I would, I would feel okay with that as to your other question, we have done that. We have put in an out of stock sign on products. We have turned away customers. I can think of just even, you know, last in this past year where we’ve had customers for a long time and there, I would tell you their name and you would absolutely recognize their name. A famous ice cream maker. And we just said, we can’t make enough to meet your demand. Shawn (42m 24s): And we’ve, we really like you and we’ve appreciated the relationship, but we can’t do it. We’ve done that twice with really big customers in the last year. And we’ve had products before where we just say, you know, we can’t make this anymore. It’s a very popular product. We’re going to what we put it on, what we call vacation, which means maybe it’ll come back from vacation. Maybe it won’t, but, but we’ve done this. And so, yes, it’s, it absolutely has happened. And the, the Genesis of this idea of how much is enough is really what some would call the sufficiency economy. And for me, I have a, a real life experience with this because I’ve been going to a Trappist monastery about an hour and a half from my house for 20 years. Shawn (43m 12s): It’s called Assumption Abbey. I talked with my spiritual director the day before yesterday. He’s 90. He’s been a monk there since 1952. And, and they make fruit cakes and they make enough fruit cakes. They don’t, they don’t make more than they need. And, and they make enough to, to so that the monastery will be, so it will be sufficient. So they’ll have enough revenue to, you know, keep the lights on and feed the priests and brothers. And this is the way monasteries are run around the world. We know that there are famous examples with Travis beer in Europe, where, you know, they make what they make and when it’s out, it’s out. Shawn (43m 59s): And so you can’t do that, though, if you don’t have a, a really refined sense of what you need. And by that, I mean, what do you need to cover debt service? What kind of cashflow do you need? What kind of insurance plan do you need for your employees? And while it’s true that sometimes it may mean that you need to grow top line revenue and yeah, you can do that. That’s sure, but you’re doing it with purpose and you’re doing it with an understanding of what is sufficient. Brad (44m 37s): And if someone’s kind of lighting up in consideration of this message, what are some steps they can take might be extricating from the career that’s causing disillusionment and burnout, but even if they’re on a good path, you know, what, what tools can we use to kind of keep that tether, I guess? Shawn (44m 59s): Well, I guess one of the first things that you could do is you could first, do you have, do you have partners in this business? Then I would obviously encourage a really open discussion with your partners and or are you in this business alone? Talk to your family, talk to your spouse, talk to your partner, to your significant other, and express this idea of wanting to at least ask these questions. Because, you know, as I was saying, sometimes just putting the question, our head can really open up a flow of understanding and awareness that we’ve never even experienced before. Shawn (45m 42s): Just the question alone. So what would I recommend first talk to the people around you, who are the people who you need input from, and they need input from you. So they don’t think you’re, you know, you’re going off on a, some kind of weird tangent and get their understanding. And then I think the second thing that you can do, and I talk about this a lot in the book, and that is to write a vision of greatness, a longterm term, vision of greatness for you, for you personally, and for your firm, for your idea, or for your life. And I talk about in the book, you know, writing a 10 year vision of greatness. I didn’t come up with this, but one of my best friends is Ari Weinzweig who co-founded, Zingerman’s deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He’s written about this extensively. Shawn (46m 23s): And I, you know, write about it in my book. And I’ve done this with, with middle-school students in Tanzania, in Swahili, you know, helping them write a three-year vision of greatness. We are the farmer group that we work with in Tanzania. We helped them. We facilitated their 10 year vision of greatness. These are farmers that weren’t thinking into next month. And now they’re thinking, so when you can write a vision of greatness for yourself and in that story, and by the way, these aren’t bullet points, it’s not an outline. It’s a story. It’s got paragraphs, it’s got narrative. It has very similitude where you’re describing it all. You’re narrating the senses, and this is what’s happening in my 10 year vision of greatness. Shawn (47m 2s): And you will in that vision write about sufficiency. Now, I think you would say, great, lovely. But one of the things that we need to remember is we need to put our, or I would say it this way. We need to put our true selves in the best place possible to contemplate these questions. So that means we need to prepare our minds, our bodies, and our spirits for this question. We need to, we need to do that. And that means how do we put our bodies physically in the best place to be able to send and receive these kinds of messages? Shawn (47m 44s): And for me, the, the mind, I would say more important to me is the true self as Thomas Merton would have called it, or as some would say, consciousness or awareness, and, or in my faith tradition, I would say the soul. So if we can, if we can discover our true nature and begin a path of discovery of our true nature, our true selves, and put our body in a place for that discovery. That’s when these very important, deep questions of sufficiency can begin to percolate in ways that we would not have expected. Let’s dial back all the way. We’re rewinding the tape down at the beginning of the conversation. Shawn (48m 26s): When I said that I’m this, I was this type A I am a type A hard-charging driven person. That’s part of my DNA that ain’t going to change. That’s not going to change, but it, that strength prevented me from the things that we’re now talking about. I, I wanted to research the crap out of it. I wanted to talk to everybody. I wanted to power my way through it. But what I’m suggesting is is that if we can find a place of surrender, and if we can find a place of connecting with our true nature and our true selves, that is not power, that is not powering through it, right? I mean, that’s not what that is. Shawn (49m 6s): And, and it’s, it’s, it’s like the opposite of that. And so that is the place where answers to all of these questions that we’re talking about will arise. Brad (49m 20s): Wow, that’s a nice kind of spin on the, the, the popular message now about the manifesting and you make your vision board and you do all these great things, and I’m, I’m really enjoying being more open to this idea that you can visualize your future. But I, I like how you put it in that context, as you get to get your shit together, first, man, before you make your vision board, otherwise your mind is going to be clouded with delusions, and you’re going to have a private jets and Ferrari’s on there instead of, you know, going into a, a schoolhouse in Tanzania and getting them to do a three-year vision, especially the body part. And that, that really appeals to me as a lifelong, you know, fitness as the centerpiece of my life. Brad (50m 1s): And it’s like, boy, if we can, if we can work on that, that, that real life stuff, before we sit down and prepare a vision of greatness, that sounds like a great plan. Shawn (50m 11s): Well, and it’s, and you find, I, I, I would be willing to bet money that you find this in your work where people come to you, they know of your work. This happens with me. And they’re like, okay, tell me what I need to do to get to my next job. I need to find another job. I’m not happy in my job. I hate it. It makes me sick. Just, I just need to find another that I like, what do I do? Well, okay. We can, you can find another job. You know, another partner. Find another city. Yes, yes, yes. But you’re going to be right back where you started from, so let’s just do the work now. Let’s roll up our sleeves. Let’s just do the work. I mean, I’m not a coach, but I’m saying, but it’s, it’s, it’s, that’s what we do. Shawn (50m 52s): You know, we need, if we, if we can step back, really the discipline begins with the discipline begins with beginning. It begins with, you know, can, are we willing to do the work? Are we willing to, then I don’t use this term lightly? Are we willing to, are we willing to encounter pain? And the pain can be physical. It can also be in, oftentimes is it’s spiritual and it’s emotional. Shawn (51m 34s): And it’s real. And that often is not the most tantalizing offer to someone when they are dissatisfied or it’s, you know, it’s not a great sales pitch, you know, to say, well, would you like a little emotional and physical pain with this? And it’s because, but, but you know what, eventually I think eventually people get there, you know, if they, if they’re serious about this work. Brad (52m 7s): Yeah. I mean, just, just being open to taking a baby step in that direction and experiencing a tiny bit of pain, such as second, guessing your career path as a, as a, you know, highly driven, successful criminal defense lawyer, that’s pain right there on the surface of it. Shawn (52m 23s): Well, Michael Singer who wrote Untethered Soul, and I love that book. He says that surrender is perhaps the greatest form of worship. And I love that because surrender means that it means letting go. It doesn’t mean a plan B will will help me. It means letting go. And that can be, that can take all sorts of forms, but one of them is that you begin to shed expectations of what you thought your life would be and what you think it will be. Shawn (53m 3s): And I, it’s very challenging to reach or connect our true to our true selves, our true nature without surrender. And the there’s a book that my spiritual director recommended a long time ago by, by a French monk in the 17th century, Jean-Pierre de Caussade and it’s called the book is called The Joy of Full Surrender. And again, it was written in the 18th century and many say that this book is almost like the first notion of Zen Christianity. And, and you can imagine, I mean, with the title, The Joy of Full Surrender., I mean, that’s a very Buddhist notion, but to me, this is, this is where I think this is where this is the place where it all resides, I think. Shawn (53m 54s): And it’s not a one-time thing. Right. I mean, we don’t surrender ones. Okay. Hey, I did it. I surrendered Brad (54m 0s): I’m on the golden path. I’m, I’m stuck on there forever. Shawn (54m 3s): Yeah, no, it’s for many. And like, for me, I mean it’s every day, you know, or sometimes minute by minute, Brad (54m 12s): Right? Keep checking yourself. Yeah. If everybody take a deep breath now, Ah, boy, Before I let you go, I’d love to talk about the, the, you know, sophistication of what a, what a real quality bean to bar product is versus what we’re getting bombed with in the marketplace. Because I became a dark chocolate fan. We know that milk chocolate’s got too much sugar and we’re trying to be healthy. So I switched to dark chocolate years ago and I would go to a national chain store and get their $1.57. Tasted pretty good. I thought, but now we open up this huge picture of, you know, staying away from, let’s say child labor and, you know, an unhealthy production practices. Brad (55m 1s): And then, you know, you’re talking about it’s, it’s kind of unfathomable in this day and age that you’re getting on a plane and traveling over to meet the guy who’s making the beans, that’s going in the bar. It’s kind of an unusual deal here. And so if anyone’s interested in, you know, upping their game and the quality of food they consume and what that, what that purchasing dollar does, I’d love to get your spiel on that Shawn (55m 26s): Many who say, even in the, you know, sort of sophisticated segment of the market, that this is now, as you pointed out, you know, bean to bar chocolate is everywhere, but there are many who say, gee whiz, you want me to pay $10 for this chocolate bar? What a rip off I say to them? Well, let’s talk about that $2 bar that you’d like to buy at the convenience store. Let’s say it’s a, you know, a Snickers bar ,Hershey’s or whatever that sir, or ma’am, is a rip off. And the reason it’s a rip off is because that chocolate bar was made on the backs of slaves. Now that is the epitome of rip-off. Shawn (56m 8s): And the supply chain for the biggest chocolate companies in the world. Let’s start with Barry Callebaut which makes the biggest, you know, they’re the biggest chocolate company in the world. They make the Tony’s chocolate lonely bar that has the word slave free on it. They themselves are one of the greatest, bad actors in this child, slave labor supply chain on the planet. And a lot of people don’t even realize that because they make so many different chocolate bars for people. But let’s think about for a minute that the US department of labor in conjunction with the university of Chicago came, came out with their report in this past fall that said there are 1.58 million child slaves in West Africa, in Ghana and ivory coast in the cocoa supply chain. Shawn (56m 59s): And there are many people who are in conditions of forced labor in addition to those children. And when you, when you consider the fact that based on the price of cocoa beans, that those farmers are getting and the, the middlemen and women that siphon off the, you know, many layers of profit for them in, in this corrupt supply chain, those farmers in West Africa are making under a $1.25 a day. That’s right. $1.25 a day, which is below the United nations definition of extreme poverty. So that is defacto slavery. When you, when you, when I am a business person and you are a slave working for when you are working for a $1.25 a day, that’s slavery, that’s modern day de facto slavery. Shawn (57m 43s): And so of course they can put a $2 chocolate bar on the counter at the convenience store where you get your gas. Yes, they can. They do it on the backs of slaves. And by the way, should they decide to do the right thing and eradicate slavery from their supply chains and pay the farmers a lot more money for their cocoa beans, their profit margins would even hardly erode even slightly without raising Brad (58m 8s): Are so inexpensive. Anyway, yes, Shawn (58m 9s): It’s pennies. You know, the, the, the, the amount of chocolate that’s in these bars is so minuscule to begin with, but it would, it would be a measure of pennies and Oh, by the way, chocolate is so inelastic that study after study has shown that the chocolate industry, you know, the big chocolate makers raise their prices and people still buy it. That’s the definition of in well, you’re the economics guy that’s inelasticity. And so that means that they could pay these farmers more money. They could make sure that these farmers aren’t living in extreme poverty and they could, if needed slightly raise the price and shareholder value would, would not decline one single scintilla, none, zero. Shawn (58m 53s): They get kind of excited about that. Brad (58m 54s): Most of the price point is going to pay the, the athlete for the endorsement and the commercials and the billboards. Shawn (59m 2s): Thank you. Yeah, the chocolate, right? Or the sugar. What are the show had the sugar, sugar in it, right. Way more sugar in it than anything else. Brad (59m 9s): So, as we trend down the line of trying to source a more quality product, I also, and I had a chocolate expert named Torea Rodriguez on, on the show. And we talked about this at length. Some listeners can go back and listen to that, but it, it seems like we have the potential to be fooled by some, maybe this in-between type of brand and talk about the ingredient list. And when we’re paying $3.79 cents, rather than 50 cents for the candy bar, but we’re getting something at Whole Foods that says dark chocolate with a portion of the proceeds, go to save the Jaguar. How do, how does that look, man? Shawn (59m 44s): Well, this isn’t, you know, this is a real problem, what you have, and by the way, the, the, the problem that you’ve just now highlighted, it’s not just chocolate, it’s, it’s everything. And so what’s happening is, is we live in this age of just unbelievable amounts of information. But what’s what, what has happened is the desire for mindful or ethical consumption and purchasing hasn’t yet reached the stage of technology. So that those two things can come together in a way of ease and convenience, because it’s on us, it’s on the consumers. And by the way, it’s on the retailers. So this is, you know, it’s on Walmart, it’s on Target. It’s on these, these folks to say, you know what? Shawn (1h 0m 25s): We have the knowledge we now know, and we’re not going to put up with it. And so for consumers, it’s harder because you have these companies, like I said, like Tony’s chocolate only they sell a cheap chocolate bar and it has slave free all over it and pretty packaging. But what people don’t know is Barry Callebaut makes that chocolate bar for them. And Barry Callebaut is right now a defendant in litigation because they have child slave labor in their supply chain. So Barry Callebaut Brad (1h 0m 54s): is profitable as a company because of slavery. And yet Tony’s is having them make their chocolate for them. And they slapped slavery. That’s where, you know, there’s so much social washing going on in our world. Shawn (1h 1m 5s): There’s greenwashing, social washing, and we just have to be careful about it, you know? And sometimes people say, look, I just want to buy a chocolate bar. Can you just leave me alone? I mean, I just want my, okay. You know what I understand, but I’m not going to stop telling people that this is wrong. It’s, it’s just, it’s not right. Brad (1h 1m 32s): So what about that $4 bar that seemingly has good languaging on it. And the marketing mysteries is fuzzy, Shawn (1h 1m 38s): You got to do the research. This is what makes it hard. This is why I think that, that’s what I’m saying. Eventually, you know, eventually what’s going to happen in the, in blockchain will be one of the technologies that do does this. Eventually you’re going to be able to walk up to Whole Foods. You’re going to be able to take your phone and you’re going to literally be able to go like that over the bar. And it’s going to tell you everything that you want to know about the bar that you want to know the truth of what you want to know. And I believe that blockchain will be one of the technologies to help with that. Here’s the other thing. I only have 17 employees. On my website I have something called the transparency report. It’s not a fancy infograph. It’s an Excel spreadsheet that lists every being purchased I’ve ever made at the company, how much we paid the farmers, who we paid, how that compared to the world market price, how it compares to the fair trade price, how it compares to the farm gate price, and then draws conclusions. Shawn (1h 2m 28s): You know, if people want to just read the conclusions and not spend their time with you, it’s audited. And here’s the deal I’ve been doing this for 14 years. And people say, well, how can I trust you? Trust is a character state that is built over time. So like, if you’re my customer, like if we finished this call and you, you know, buy some chocolate or, you know, if your listeners happen to buy some chocolate then great. And if they stay with us for several years, and if they follow us on social media or they read our posts or whatever, they’ll begin to get a sense of who we are as people. Right? And they will eventually develop a trust relationship with me and my daughter, Lauren, who I run the business with. Shawn (1h 3m 10s): And she’s my co-author in the book. And people will that, that they trust us. That’s that is this thing that because of who we are. Kahlil Gibran said, if you bake a bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger. Well, I don’t, I don’t make chocolate with indifference. You don’t do what you do with indifference. And the result is the product and service that we deliver is not bitter. It isn’t better. And anyone can do this. I don’t care what you sell, product service or whatever. It’s inextricably part of who you are. And eventually over time, this character state of trust is built and people see it for what it is. Shawn (1h 3m 55s): It’s hard, but it’s hard because it takes time. Brad (1h 3m 59s): Well, It’s the same with writing a book or doing a podcast or publishing a YouTube video of me exercising and telling people, this is my, this is my workout. Absolutely. We’re getting, we’re getting faked left and right. It’s really easy to get faked out. So I think it, I think it lands, you know, 95% on the consumer, unfortunately. It’s a sad state of affairs, but, you know, we have all kinds of storytelling in the ancestral health scene about how the United States government and then lobbying has been dispensing, you know, flawed and dated health advice and pounding it down our throats. So that I still get to sit down with dinner with friends, family, whoever, and they say, well, what about this red meat causes cancer article that I just read? Brad (1h 4m 41s): And boy, it’s a, it’s an exhausting battle, but I love your passion coming out where look, I asked you a question. I gave you a chance, man, and you pounded. So listen up people. This is serious stuff. So when we want to clean up our act, in this sense as a consumer, is there some type of, you know, guidelines? Like, can we look for the bean to bar designation or the what’s it called? The fair trade has a special stamp that goes on on label. Shawn (1h 5m 8s): I don’t believe in fair trade. I don’t live in cocoa, not in fair trade cocoa. So the farmers don’t get the money. Farmers don’t get that premium that you’re paying. They do not. Brad (1h 5m 18s): This is for listeners. This is a, I guess, a movement, a, I don’t know, a nonprofit organization where you see this designation on a product, not just a bar. Shawn (1h 5m 30s): I don’t know anything about coffee. Yeah. Brad (1h 5m 32s): You’re not, you’re not a big fan. Shawn (1h 5m 33s): No, the reason is because, well, it was great in the beginning, but often as is often the case with, I mean, so it did wonderful things, you know, socially, economically environmentally. But the problem is it became a victim of his own good marketing. And so people are pushing their cart down, the Whole Foods aisle with chocolate. And they’re like, Oh, fair trade chocolate. And that’s a little bit more expensive. You know, I get some warm and fuzzies when I buy that because I know I’m helping the farmers out. Okay, I’ll buy it. The problem is study after study, after study show that the farmers who harvested and grew those beans don’t get the money. They don’t get the premium. And so it’s siphoned off in, in, in all layers of the supply chain between me buying it and the farmers who grew it. Shawn (1h 6m 17s): So exporters and processors and all these people. And so I can’t say that for coffee because I don’t know. I know about chocolate. And so if, if the people who are paying a premium for these cocoa beans, which there is a fair trade premium, it’s just not enough. And the farmers don’t get it, but you were. I, I interrupted you. And I know I get kind of wound up I’ll I’ll I get kinda, kind of excited about this because, but there is, you know, like slave free.org/free chocolate.org is a nice website where people can go and see. And, and again, there are many bean to bar chocolate makers, you know, like my friends at Dandelion in San Francisco, they’re great. And French Broad chocolates and in North Carolina and yeah, there, there are a number of bean to bar chocolate makers. Shawn (1h 7m 4s): And most, all of them are reputable. Find folks who are buying their beans, if not directly from farmers than from people who are buying them directly from farmers, farmers that are trustworthy. I was a party in Supreme court litigation recently before the U S Supreme court on child slave labor. There were 17 small chocolate makers that joined is what’s called Amicus curiae parties in this litigation. The Supreme court should come out with a decision any day now, but you know, you can Google Supreme court Nestle and find those 17 chocolate makers that are with me. And I believe they’re people who are of character and who do the right thing. And, and, you know, with some, with some searching and just developing some relationships with small businesses like mine, it can happen. Shawn (1h 7m 49s): And you know, these things, like you said, if, if, if, if you, you have people who follow what you do and who have been watching you and listening to you and taking your advice for years. And if Brad says, Hey, you know, I think you should eat this thing. You know, this is good for you or take this supplement or do this exercise. Or that, I mean, it’s a way it’s, it’s, again, it’s a trust relationship. People are going to say, I don’t need to do a jillion hours of research because I’ve developed trust relationship with Brad. And he says, this is a good thing to do. So I’m going to do it. And then if people buy from me or from Dandelion or French Broad or others, they’re like, okay, I develop a trust relationship with them and others over years. Shawn (1h 8m 34s): And I can count on their quality. I can count on their ethics and we’ll, you know, see how it goes. It does, as you say, though, it does put more on the consumer, but we’re in that age, it’s on us. Well, we have no welfare ignorance anymore. We can’t play. Brad (1h 8m 48s): We also have a browser now. Yes. This is not 2005 where I got to wait on hold to call Springfield, Missouri. I’m paying a toll charge for my phone call to talk to these chocolate guys and see if they’re legit. Now, do you, do you extend this into a variety of directions in your life? Like, are you, are you wearing a Nike shoes that were maybe sourced from, from slave labor? Are you, are you cleaning up in every possible direction? How does that go for you? Shawn (1h 9m 18s): I’m well, the answer is I’m, I’m doing what I can. So, you know, my jeans are from Everlane and they have, you know, and, and Brad (1h 9m 26s): No joke. I was just, I was just teeing them up. We’ll see where it goes, but yeah, he’s got the right jeans. I like that. Shawn (1h 9m 35s): And there’s, there’s a documentary that came out about four or five years ago called True Costs. And it’s about the fashion industry. And what’s happened in the fashion industry and the children in Bangladesh that are, you know, working to make our clothes. And the answer is that I, it is I’m aspirational in that sense. So I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I amIbeyond reproach in, in other aspects, but I, but I’m trying, you know, so I do with the coffee I drink is intelligency. I know where they get it. And I really only drink Intelligentsia coffee right now. Shawn (1h 10m 16s): But, but so I, I try to do it. And, you know, I’m, I’ve also reached this place in my prayer and meditation life, where I want to see things. In other words, I want the convergence of these issues that we’re talking about, not just in chocolate, but in all areas. So in other words, I want to receive those pieces of information that I need to receive, that I, that I need to know about so that I can start asking questions. Meaning, can I, can I have openness so that I’m not rigid or stuck in something that I buy? Shawn (1h 10m 58s): Am I willing to give it up? Am I willing to look at something else? What do I need to know? What, what social, political environmental economic issues do I need to know about that I don’t know about? And I would pray that they enter my life so I can be challenged by them. And so it’s, for me, it’s not perfect Brad (1h 11m 23s): Open mindset. I love it. Ready for the next thing, Shawn Askinosie. Thanks for joining us. We, we hit it hard, man. That was, that was wild times. People go get his book, Meaningful Work, a quest to do great business, find your calling and feed your soul and tell us where else we can connect with you. Of course, we’re going to go buy the chocolate direct or at retailers, but I love shopping at askinosie.com and getting the, the peppermint, the orange, the peanut butter, that it’s one of a kind I have to compliment you. And I don’t think we connected on that level. I think it was your book promotions and all that said, Hey, let’s do a podcast, but it just happened. I’m like, wait a second. That’s the last name of my favorite chocolate. And then here we are talking about everything, man. Brad (1h 12m 4s): Wow. Shawn (1h 12m 4s): Well, I’m grateful and use that it askinosie.com is probably the best place and on social media. And, but I’m, I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity to speak with you today, Brad (1h 12m 14s): Shawn Askinosie that’s a wrap!.

 

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