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Shawn Askinosie Speaking at MU jeni's tasting chocolate chartjeni's tasting

Shawn Askinosie Speaking Inquiries

About Shawn

Founder and CEO of Askinosie Chocolate, Shawn Askinosie is an internationally sought-after public speaker. Shawn was recently named by O, The Oprah Magazine as “One of 15 Guys Who Are Saving the World.” They said, “Why we’re fans: The philanthropically-minded chocolate entrepreneur aims to get students thinking about business ethics in a way that could have ripple effects for generations.”

Before founding Askinosie Chocolate in 2005, Shawn had a successful career as a criminal defense lawyer for nearly 20 years, with a number of high profile cases that garnered national media attention. Shawn never lost a criminal jury trial. Since his career change, Shawn’s unique social business model has been profiled by O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, and countless others. He is a contributor for The Huffington Post. Shawn was named the 2013 Humanitarian of the Year by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. He is the co-founder of Lost & Found Grief Center for children and is a Trappist Family Brother at Assumption Abbey (a Cistercian monastery near Ava, Missouri). Shawn is the Mel Carnahan Fellow at Missouri State University’s Public Affairs Academy and is an Adjunct Professor of Field Studies in Social Entrepreneurship at Drury University. The University of Missouri recently honored Shawn with the Distinguished Alumni Award. In May 2012, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Public Affairs degree to “recognize his contributions as a community leader, an entrepreneur, a role model and an inspiration to students and others.” The Specialty Food Association selected Shawn as the Business Leadership Award Winner of 2013 as a “food pioneer” who has “advanced food standards in society… through visionary social, economic and environmental efforts.” As a part of the company’s Sustainable Lunch Programs, Askinosie Chocolate is currently providing meals (with the help of local schools’ PTA’s) to over 1,600 students per day in Tanzania and the Philippines, without any donations. Askinosie Chocolate’s award-winning products are sold throughout the US, and exported to stores across the globe.

Speaking topics

Shawn loves to talk about: small business and social impact (drawing from experiences such as our Sustainable Lunch Programs), “business as a vocation” (illustrated with his personal example and how others might use this model), pursuing new passions in life (his path from criminal defense lawyer to chocolate-making), and, of course, the bean-to-bar chocolate making process. Most of his presentations—even to large groups—include some (or a lot of) chocolate. Presentations have ranged from 3 minutes to one hour (or longer).

What listeners have said

“We like this guy!”
Oprah Magazine, February 2011

"True inspiration to hear Shawn Askinosie and see how 15 people from Askinosie Chocolate change the lives of hundreds of thousands with chocolate." 
Todd Waterbury, Executive Creative Director, Sr. V.P. Marketing, Target Corp. May 2014

“At the end of the tasting I was about ready to move to Springfield and apply for a position. Your story by itself is incredible... and then there’s the chocolate. Be still my heart!”
—Val, Zingerman’s Mail Order

“I know, you wanted to know who wore what and who wore it best at the Good Food Awards. The truth is, Askinosie wore it best.”
Sprudge.com, 2014

“We were so thrilled to host Shawn. Personally, it was important to learn and be inspired. And the conversation that flowed internally [in our company, after we heard him speak] was such an important one. Thank you for fulfilling our greatest wishes.”
—Paula Gilovich, Producer, ABC Home

“My students literally cried during Shawn's presentation because it was so powerful and meaningful and have not stopped talking with me about how to incorporate his ideals into their professional lives.”
—Dean Robert G. Bailey, Director of the Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution, University of Missouri School of Law, April 2014

“I have attended almost every commencement ceremony for at least 15 years. I have heard many good (and not so good) speeches. But I just wanted to let you know that your speech was the by far the best and most inspiring that I have heard!”
—Dr. Paula Patterson–Professor, Missouri State University

“…most influential speaker I have ever heard”
—Missouri State University Student

“Shawn delivered a wonderful presentation to our group that included inspiration and motivation on many levels: overcoming life obstacles, turning failure into opportunity, the value of taking a leap of faith, thinking globally, the importance of giving back, and of course… chocolate!”
Missouri Department of Natural Resources, June 2013

“...[your presentation] was off the charts amazing and really got our corporate and franchise heads spinning!”
—Eric Reed, Franchise Development Director, Andy's Frozen Custard

“He connected on an emotional level that I cannot fully describe.”
—Missouri State University Student

Notable speaking engagements

  • Target Corp., Creative Department Quarterly Huddle, keynote speaker, Minneapolis, MN (2014)
  • University of Missouri School of Law (2014)
  • ABC Home—Month of Love, New York City, (2014)
  • Good Food Awards, San Francisco, CA, presenter (2014)
  • Southwest Baptist University Chapel, keynote, (2013)
  • Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Jefferson City, Missouri (2013)
  • Institute of Management Accountants, keynote speaker (2013)
  • Toledo Junior League, keynote speaker (2013)
  • Chicago Humanities Festival, keynote speaker ( 2012)
  • Missouri State University’s Spring 2012 Commencement Speaker
  • Specialty Food Association, seminar speaker, Washington D.C. (2012)
  • Agriturismo La Petraia in Tuscany, Italy, guest presenter (2012)
  • Dallas Salesmanship Club (2012)
  • Missouri State University’s Fall 2011 Commencement Speaker
  • CHOKLADFESTIVALEN, presenter, Stockholm, Sweden (2010)
  • Drury University’s Convocation (2010)

Sample videos

8-minute Commencement Address at Missouri State University—Fall 2011

12-minute Commencement Address at Missouri State University—Spring 2012

3-minute video which shows our factory and our business model

Video interview with Shawn on Bloomberg

Cost / Availability

If you are interested in learning more, please email info@askinosie.com to check availability. In your message please tell us details about your event: purpose, dates, times, etc. Shawn’s speaking fees are one of the ways we raise money for our Chocolate University programs, such as taking local students to Africa to meet cocoa farmers.