Shawn Askinosie Speaking Inquiries
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 beans directly from farmers. The only chocolate maker working directly with cocoa farmers on four continents, Shawn travels to regions of Ecuador, the Philippines and Tanzania to source cocoa beans for his chocolate. This allows the chocolate to be traced to the source and labeled authentic single origin. It also enables Askinosie Chocolate to profit share with the farmers, giving them a “Stake In the Outcome,” a principle he learned from author/entrepreneur Jack Stack.
Recently named by Forbes "One of the 25 Best Small Companies in America", Askinosie Chocolate has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, on Bloomberg, MSNBCand numerous other national and international media outlets.
The Askinosie Chocolate mission is to serve their farmers, their neighborhood, their customers and each other, sharing the Askinosie Chocolate experience by leaving the world a better place than they found it. The company is currently sustainably feeding over 1,600 students per day in Tanzania and the Philippines, without any donations. Founded at the forefront of the American craft chocolate revolution and regarded by many as a vanguard in the industry, Askinosie Chocolate sets the standard: they are one of the few chocolate makers in the world who press their own cocoa butter (to make their chocolate truly single origin) and the only American craft chocolate maker to produce a natural cocoa powder; they were the first American craft chocolate makers to create white chocolate, as well as a chocolate hazelnut spread (says The New York Times: “one spoonful of Askinosie’s Chocolate Hazelnut Spread and all memory of Nutella is gone”).
Shawn was named by O, The Oprah Magazine "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." For his efforts in "Advancing food standards... by creating social, economic, and environmental impact", Shawn was awarded Top Business Leader of the Year in 2013 by the Specialty Food Association. Shawn has been awarded honorary doctorates from University of Missouri-Columbia and Missouri State University. In 2015, Askinosie Chocolate was awarded a complimentary membership to the Clinton Global Initiative for the company’s social efforts around the world. Seth Godin, entrepreneur and author, recently praised the company's model: "[Shawn] has built a practice of creating a worthwhile luxury good that directly benefits people. Not sort of. Not a little. But directly.”
Askinosie Chocolate has received 3 Good Food Awards, considered to be the Oscars of food; 6 silver awards from the Specialty Food Association; and 7 International Chocolate Awards, including the Gold World Award for the Dark Chocolate + Licorice bar. The small team at Askinosie works directly with all of their retailers and sells their chocolate into specialty food stores, luxury boutiques, and high-end grocery chains throughout the US in nearly all fifty states and across the globe.
Shawn has a new book coming out in November 2017 co-written with his daughter Lawren, published by Penguin titled "Meaningful Work: The Quest To Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul". He is a Family Brother at Assumption Abbey, a Trappist monastery near Ava, Missouri and the co-founder of Lost & Found, a grief center serving children and families in Southwest Missouri.
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
"Shawn Askinosie is an emotionally moving speaker who tells the story of chocolate, cocoa growers, and underprivileged students in a compelling, heart warming and uplifting way that makes people want to help him in any way possible."
—Dr. Zeke Emanuel, Professor, Author, Oncologist, Founding Bioethicist at National Institutes of Health, and former White House Special Advisor on Health Care Policy, April 2016
"Really wonderful event with Askinosie Chocolate! The event was a unique mix of delicious/heavy/uplifting...a fascinating storyteller. The Chocolate Hazelnut Spread was extraordinary."
—Liz Prueitt, Co-owner of San Francisco's Tartine Bakery & Bar Tartine, April 2016
"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, Chief Creative Officer, TARGET, 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.”
“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
“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
Notable speaking engagements
- Mid-Missouri Innovation Week Keynote–"Finding a Vocation, Kinship and Work Worth Doing,” University of Missouri (2016)
- NAFSA– Association of International Educators Keynote, "Local Roots Global Reach" (2016)
- University of Missouri–Columbia, Spring Commencement Speaker (2016)
- Heath Ceramics, Chef Tasting and Story co-hosted by Tartine Bakery and Paper Magazine, San Francisco (2016)
- Missouri State University, Public Affairs Conference–Building Healthy Communities: Body, Mind and Spirit, presenter (2016)
- 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)
Shawn Askinosie's Commencement Address at the University of Missouri–Columbia (shared nearly 2,000 times on Facebook)
Cost / Availability
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