Meaningful Work: A Quest to Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul
November 14, 2017
Founder Shawn Askinosie, along with CMO Lawren Askinosie, tells us the secret of Askinosie Chocolate’s success—in addition, of course, to its honestly sourced cocoa.
One of the great things about being known for our expertise in business books is the ability to work with truly extraordinary businesspeople when they turn their attention to putting the lessons they've learned in a book. And we've been really fortunate and pleased lately to help get copies of Meaningful Work: A Quest to Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul by Shawn Askinosie, with Lawren Askinosie, out into the world.
So, what is the book about?
In 2005, Shawn Askinosie left a successful career as a criminal defense lawyer to start a bean-to-bar chocolate factory and never looked back. Askinosie Chocolate is a small batch, award-winning chocolate factory located in Springfield, Missouri, sourcing 100% of their cocoa beans directly from farmers across the globe.
Recently named “One of the 25 Best Small Companies in America” by Forbes, Askinosie Chocolate was founded at the forefront of the American craft chocolate revolution and is regarded by many as a vanguard in the industry. But other than the honestly sourced cocoa, what’s the secret of Askinosie Chocolate’s success, and is there more to it than creating some of the best chocolate in the world?
According to Shawn Askinosie, writing with his daughter and Askinosie chief marketing officer Lawren Askinosie, there is a lot more, as revealed in Meaningful Work: A Quest to Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul (being released today, November 14, 2017, by TarcherPerigee—an imprint of Penguin Random House).
You can find more information on the book on the publisher's website, and to give you a taste of Askinosie (sorry, pun intended), they were kind enough to provide the following excerpt about their approach to corporate responsibility.
Throw Out Dualism—It’s Time for Unity
In this day and age, most large companies have “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) departments charged with directing philanthropy and other community benefits. This team often operates independently among the typical accounting, marketing, and sales departments. We’re accustomed to this organizational compartmentalization because western thought teaches us to keep the parts separate. This dualistic perspective is pervasive in western society: black or white; this or that; and never the two shall meet. CSR departments came to life in the 1960s, mostly staffed by lawyers as risk managers, to anticipate and take action on regulatory and compliance issues before they became a problem. Today, many modern CSR departments act as the “soul” of the company, advancing the mission and engaging in activities that benefit mankind. Criticism of CSR is widespread. There’s a business ideology that posits that profit and shareholder value are sacrificed and degraded by CSR activities, while other detractors see CSR as mere window dressing.
We think differently about this kind of compartmentalizing; namely, we disagree with it as it relates to our business. Dualism takes two things and says that they are not related at all; we say they’re interdependent. Follow this circle: our chocolate business supports our vocation, and our vocation supports our chocolate business, which supports our vocation. Our aim is to transcend the limiting belief prevalent in traditional business that says “doing good” exists only at the expense of profit. It’s not either/or. For us they drive each other and are inseparable. We integrate the notions of our vocation into every department and decision in the company.
What is great chocolate? Is it the chocolate bar itself, or is it something more? We believe great chocolate is the embodiment of a lot of other things. We believe our chocolate is great because of our vocation, which is both our dedication to practicing our craft with excellence and our dedication to serving our team, neighborhood, and origin communities. We want people to buy our chocolate because it tastes good and it tastes good because of our vocation.
Businesses become great or meaningful when they are informed by a vocation that gives their product or service, and their employees, purpose. The vocation is not window dressing for the business. If we pull our “business” apart from our vocation, then it ceases to be great. Great chocolate is a state of character, a way of being, as opposed to a piece of food. If someone mimicked our chocolate bar, with the exact same physical qualities but lacking intention, then I believe it would not be great chocolate.
We are a company resisting the traditional dualistic view that life and business are separate. Instead, they are integrally connected. The quality of our chocolate bar will suffer if we do not recognize this interconnectedness.
We aren’t looking to eradicate all imperfection from our product or business, but rather to harmonize the imperfections into our way of being as a company. Also, it’s not about striking an exactly equal balance between business and vocation, but about finding harmony in the two concerns, even when they are asymmetrical.
Excerpted from Meaningful Work by Shawn Askinosie with Lawren Askinosie.
Published by TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
Copyright © 2017 by Shawn Askinosie and Lawren Askinosie.
All rights reserved.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Shawn Askinosie is the founder of Askinosie Chocolate. Lawren Askinosie, his daughter, is the Chief Marketing Officer. Askinosie Chocolate practices direct trade, and profit shares with farmers in Tanzania, Ecuador, and the Philippines. The company also partners with schools in their origin communities to provide lunch to 2,600 children every day with no outside donations. Their business model has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and on Bloomberg and numerous other media outlets. Shawn was named by O, The Oprah Magazine, as "One of 15 Guys Who Are Saving the World." He is a Family Brother at Assumption Abbey, a Trappist monastery near Ava, Missouri.