Purpose-driven creative businesses can Do Well while Doing Good.
Better Business Founder is an exploration of the journeys of Founders that are developing their business to become the catalyst for the change they want to see in the world.
Learn more at betterbusinessfounder.com
Finding Who You Are By Serving Someone Who Needs You By Shawn Askinosie
Today’s episode is with Shawn Askinosie.
Shawn is a former criminal defence lawyer turned craft chocolate maker
Shawn is the founder of Askinosie Chocolate, a small-batch direct trade chocolate company based in Missouri in the US.
Every year Shawn travels to Ecuador, Tanzania and the Philippines because Askinosie Chocolate sources 100% of their cocoa beans directly from the farmers, buying the beans at a price that is way above the fairtrade price.
Not only do they make the best tasting craft chocolate but they also practice an open-book policy and profit-sharing with their farmers.
They provide free lunches to students and build schools in Tanzania.
And at the local level, they have developed a program targeting the youth “to inspire students, through the lens of artisan chocolate making, to be global citizens, know themselves and their opportunities and embrace the idea that small businesses can solve world problems”. I find this really inspiring
When I first heard that Shawn and his daughter Lauren, who also works at Askinosie Chocolate, have written a book, I immediately bought it because I was eager to find out more about this bean-to-bar company and learn all the operational details of this small business whose mission is also to make our world a little bit better.
But in fact, I discovered so much more in their book called “Meaningful Work - A Quest To Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul”.
This book is on serving others, on finding our vocation in our own sorrows, on building trust, and growth and our place in the world among many other very important topics. I recommended this book to many of my friends, especially those who were looking for a career change.
So in this episode, we started our conversation with one of my favourite parts of the book which is Shawn’s personal experience of discovery of his vocation and spirituality in a broad sense.
In this episode, Shawn will also explain why Askinosie Chocolate is not a fairtrade company.
Of course, we talked about success.
But I have to warn you about something quite embarrassing or revealing: when Shawn was revealing the ugly side of the global cocoa trade and how it is feeding child slavery, the dog of my neighbour also got very angry and you will hear it. I’m really sorry about it but I couldn’t remove the barking because we had a technical problem with this recording.
Communication With Empathy for Better Connection and Conversation by Isa Alves
This is my conversation with Isa Alves who has joined us from Lisbon in Portugal.
This episode is a little bit of a treat because we will be discussing COMMUNICATION WITH EMPATHY,
Improving how people communicate with one another and improving communication within organizations with EMPATHY is Isa’s mission.
Because EMPATHY is a skill that we can all learn and become more intentional when using it in the way we communicate with people around us.
Isa will tell us all about it.
Isa will explain how being more empathetic can serve us in our daily lives and in a professional environment.
Isa will also teach us how to set boundaries and why we need to set boundaries when we practice communication with empathy.
This was a lovely and important conversation on a very simple skill that could transform the quality of the relationships we have with people.
I hope you will enjoy this conversation and learn new ideas you could use right away in your business and life.
Leading Change With A Small Fashion Business by Seth Godin
Most people know Seth Godin through his work in the field of Internet Marketing as he has founded several companies
The most famous one is Yoyodyne, one of the first web-based direct marketing firms and it was acquired in 1998 by Yahoo for 30 million USD.
Then he founded Squidoo one of the 500 most visited websites in the world back in 2008
Seth is also a successful author who has published 20 international best selling books.
He is a very prolific blogger who has written over 8000 blog posts.
AND he is the host of the Akimbo podcast where he shares ideas about our culture and how we can change it.
This conversation is very special to me because Seth is to me MOST OF ALL a wonderful and generous TEACHER.
I have learned so much from Seth through his books, podcasts, talks and workshops. He is someone I personally look up to and I am deeply grateful to him for sharing his wisdom and for this conversation.
This conversation started with a question I’ve asked him to which he answered generously on his podcast. It was along the lines of “how a small fashion business seeking to create change can be seen and heard in today’s very noisy world”
Then Seth kindly accepted my invitation to elaborate on the topic on the Better Business Founder podcast.
SO if you are a business owner seeking to create change with your business, and not necessarily in the fashion industry, this episode is definitely for you.
Seth Godin will help you:
- understand how a small mission-driven fashion business can create change and even lead change in the industry
- discover why running a business is also an act of creativity
- you will learn about the tools for Modern Business Owners that want to make a difference.
Handcrafting Slippers For The Love of Africa and Nature with Walk The Talk Africa
Today I’d like to take you on a trip to discover the beauty of the wilderness and the vibrancy of the culture of South Africa.
My conversation in this episode is with Daniela who has joined us from Capetown, on the Southwest Coast of South Africa.
Daniela is the Founder of Walk The Talk Africa, a creative studio that designs and makes beautifully handcrafted slippers using fabric remnants and off-cuts. I first found out about Walk The Talk Africa because I was looking for slippers on Instagram and I was so caught up by the aesthetic and the story behind these unique slippers that I decided to contact Daniela to share her journey on Better Business Founder Podcast.
Even though Daniela is from a family of shoemakers that migrated from Italy to South Africa in 1954, she will explain how she somehow “stumbled upon” shoes when after over 20 years in the same company she decided to make a dramatic change so she can explore her creativity and values in her own business.
Yes, Walk The Talk Africa is a business based on values. Daniela will share with us how her childhood in wild spaces surrounded by stunningly beautiful nature shaped her worldview, her simple lifestyle and her profound love for Africa.
As you might have guessed, environmental sustainability is one of the building blocks of Walk The Talk Africa. The other one is social sustainability as her business was built on the strong belief that creativity can drive employment in South Africa and Daniela will tell us all about it in this episode.
Once again I really enjoyed this conversation and I also learned a lot and I hope that you will too.
So grab a nice cup of tea and enjoy my conversation with Daniela.
Tapping Into The Potential Of The Skilled Disability Population for Businesses and Companies by Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson is a former British Swimmer and Gold Medalist, who won multiple medals in the Paralympics, European Championships, and World Championships, just to list a few of her achievements.
After she retired from her swimming career, Liz co-founded The Ability People, TAP, a ‘for profit’ social enterprise dedicated to empowering the skilled disability population and helping companies enhance processes and adapt cultures.
When I invited Liz to be a guest on my podcast, I wanted to find out more about the challenge of employing people with disabilities and how TAP is addressing this challenge. But I realized that I didn’t understand the issue correctly. Because I thought of it as a challenge!
But what if, instead of using the word “disability” we use the word “difference”? Then the challenge becomes the opportunity.
Through the lens of differences, people with disabilities become a pool of opportunities many companies could tap into. And that’s where the work of The Ability People comes in.
This conversation made me realize how my understanding of the issue of hiring people with disabilities in companies was biased.
I really enjoyed this conversation with Liz. I still have a lot to learn but I am already very grateful to Liz for showing me a brand new perspective.
And if you are interested in hiring someone with disabilities for your own business for a freelance job, you might consider the new app that Liz and her team have launched recently. She will tell us all about it at the end of this conversation.
Hope you will enjoy the episode as much as I did!
When Mission-driven Business Founders Discuss Success
The entire episode is about SUCCESS
On this podcast, I often ask my guests how they would define success.
And I find the answers really inspiring, so I decided to put them together and make a whole episode.
Even if these founders are involved in the fashion and design industries, they are shooting for the kind of success that will give them the power to create the change they want to see in the world.
Success is never measured or defined in personal financial terms or through shiny metrics like celebrity endorsement, editorial in magazines, number of followers on social media...etc.
But it is rather discussed in terms of job creation for a certain group of people and what it means for them, in terms of provision of opportunities for a specific community, keeping alive a specific craft that would have otherwise disappeared, or influencing stakeholders in their ecosystem to do the right thing. Could be clients, suppliers, or others.
- David and Bai, both agree that the type of success we aim for could change over time
- For Shivani, Nan & Carl, Pola, Bai, and Ihita, success is beyond our personal achievement or personal experience. It’s more about connection, about adding value to the lives of others, inspiring others to try to do things differently
- Mati feels privileged to be part of something really powerful and bigger than herself. For Pola it’s about freedom and for Josie, it’s about the exploration of new possibilities
- Ihita, Bai, and Josie explain that success must also include the sustainability component of the business they have created. And it’s not about environmental sustainability. The business should be able to operate and keep creating change even if the founders are not part of the organization anymore
- Jennifer is also focused on the structure of the organization. She explained how the “speedboat” they have created has enabled her and her team to enjoy a thriving, happy and meaningful life while doing good with her business
- You might find Mati’s piece of advice interesting when you grow your business
Insightful, mindful, and inspiring
Leekei takes you to see a business from the storefront to the behind-the-scene operation, efforts, and mindset. Her questions focus on the guests and the listeners. An insightful show for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Leekei Tang is a thoughtful host. She really cares about making sustainable changes in the fashion world so that we are responsible stewards of our planet. She has a warm, direct, and intelligent approach in her interviews and to her guests. I am excited to see and hear more from her in the years to come!