ZingLife

Five Questions (+1) for Lee Meadows

Business Consultant Dr. Lee Meadows at the ZingTrain Speaker Series

We caught up with Dr. Meadows to ask him five (plus one!) quick questions:

What drew you to Zingerman’s?
As an Ann Arbor resident, I have heard of and enjoyed the culinary delight that is the Zingerman brand. In recent years, I became aware of Zingerman’s strategic focus on the training and development of its employees.

Why are you interested in participating in our Speaker Series?
Like those who have presented in this series, I was drawn to the Zingerman commitment to ‘serving’ (I couldn’t resist) the broader community through activities beyond satisfying the hunger cravings. The Speaker Series represents a strong statement by Zingerman’s, to the community, about developing people. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that kind of experience?

You are the Lull Doctor. Would you, briefly, tell us what the lull is?
The lull represents an ‘unrecognized opportunity’ that, when given just the slightest attention, can make a positive difference for the individual and the organization. The opportunities I speak of are, typically, found within the people employed by the organization.

How did you get into the business of helping businesses with the Lull?
Like most things that happen with us, circumstances dictated and directed my interest. Most of it came as a result of the layoffs and downsizing of the 90’s and into the 21st Century. Productivity was driven by mastering technology and along the way, we forgot that people

Diversity is a hot topic right now. How do you define diversity?
Diversity is a ‘hot’ topic, but my goal is to make it a ‘continuous’ area of ‘collaborative performance’. For now, diversity is defined as ‘identifiable characteristics’ that distinguish one group from another.

Would you give us a, brief, summary of what you’ll cover in your Speaker Series session?
I will present information that builds on the current reality, (Diversity has been and will always be a part of our lives) and focuses our efforts on building the best ‘performance-based’ collaborative teams that builds on the best skills of the diverse workforce.

Dr. Lee Meadows

Dr. Lee Meadows’ other name is “The Lull Doctor”. And for good reason! Dr. Meadows specializes in helping organizations large and small, for-profit and non-profit, public and private, escape the Lull. He defines the Lull as a Missed Opportunity and has literally written the book on how to recognize missed opportunities and turn any situation into an innovative and dynamic experience. His book, “Taking the Lull by the Horns” outlines a philosophy of situational leadership that any individual can emulate and any organization can encourage!

In his studies of what prevents the Lull, Dr. Meadows has come to firmly believe that the growing (and well documented) diversity of the workforce represents a strength that enhances the competitive edge of successful organizations. He will tell you that maximizing a team’s diverse talents is a leadership opportunity that is anchored in a specific set of actions common to successful 21st century organizations. Please join us on Wednesday, October 1, 8 – 930 am.

Reserve your seat here

Food, Food Artisans

Askinosie Chocolate Founder Visits Zingerman’s

Shawn Askinosie Chocolate shares his story and his chocolate

Last week, we were very pleased to welcome our friend, chocolate maker Shawn Askinosie, to Zingerman’s. Shawn spoke first to an early morning audience at ZingTrain on the subject of vocation, then led an evening Chocolate 101 tasting for the public at Zingerman’s Events on 4th. The following day, he even stuck around to give a talk and lead a chocolate tasting for Zingerman’s staff.

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Shawn Askinosie readies the projector.

In the hours before the public tasting event at Zingerman’s Events on 4th, I sat in Zingerman’s Delicatessen with Shawn Askinosie. In a soft-spoken voice, he told me about his realization that he no longer wanted to practice law. “I just couldn’t do it anymore,” he said. “If I kept it up, I knew if was going to kill me.”

Hearing these words, I realized I wasn’t merely hearing a story about looking for a new job, but of a life shift of tectonic proportions. Shawn Askinosie had worked as a criminal defense lawyer for over 20 years in Springfield, Missouri, and by all accounts he was very good at his job. But two decades in a profession often filled with sadness and tragedy were wearing him down. As he put it, “It was time for me to do something else.” But what, he didn’t know. So he said a short prayer each day asking for guidance. “It was really simple, and went something like, ‘Dear God, please give me something else to do.’”

Meanwhile, he’d begun taking the steps needed to transition out of the business. He brought in a law partner to take the new cases coming to the firm, and started to wrap up his own declining caseload. He turned to grilling as his first new venture/hobby, and even shelled out for a Big Green Egg grill. Soon after, he moved into baking. “I made a lot of cupcakes,” he said. “I really like cupcakes.” With baking, naturally, comes chocolate, and Shawn was soon making a lot of chocolate desserts. As he got better, he noticed that some types chocolate delivered better results than others. He also realized that he really didn’t know where chocolate actually came from. So, he resolved to find out, and took his first of many trips to the Amazon basin. After that trip, he “went in full-force,” and traveled extensively to learn all he could about cocoa cultivation.

Sampling board for the tasting.

Sampling board for the tasting.

Askinosie spent the next few years building a network of cocoa farmers. From the very beginning, he dealt directly with the farmers and involved them in every aspect of the business. He calls this Direct Trade Sourcing. The farmers have to agree meet certain criteria, such as cocoa bean quality standards, cultivation and fermentation methods, etc. In turn, Shawn pays the farmers directly. No middleman. He visits each farmer once per year with financial statements, which he and the farmers scrutinize.

“The cocoa farming business is a cash business,” he says, “so they were always happy when I brought them cash. But when I showed up with the books, and started going through them line by line, it blew their minds.” Shawn is a believer in Open Book Management (something he practiced as a lawyer), a concept popularized by author and consultant Jack Stack, who also happens to be a friend and mentor to Shawn.

“I had this idea to take OBM one step further upstream and really give these guys a true share in the business.” Shawn went to Jack Stack with the idea and, “He loved it. We named the program ‘A Stake in the Outcome,’ which is named after one of the Jack’s books.”

Shawn talks chocolate with attentive guests.

Shawn talks chocolate with attentive guests.

Shawn is emphatic about not taking a “paternalistic” approach with the business. “The farmers receive their money to distribute, spend, or save as they see fit.” A great byproduct of this direct relationship with the cocoa farmers that Shawn deals with worldwide is that all of his chocolate is 100% traceable back to its origin farm. “I believe this way of doing business results in higher-quality chocolate,” he says.

Shawn makes a point about chocolate.

Shawn makes a point about chocolate.

But chocolate is not Shawn’s only vocation. There is also Chocolate University.
“Our factory is locate in a part of the community that’s being revitalized,” he says. “Theres a homeless shelter a block away, called the Missouri Hotel. There are 80 kids a night there. From the day we started, we wanted to engage the kids in the community, including the kids in this shelter.” And so they developed Chocolate University to do just that.

“The kids in the elementary school come and tour our factory and we visit their schools, and we teach them about our business. It’s a sort of back and forth relationship.” he says. The middle school program is similar, but some of the kids get involved in our community work and learn a bit more about chocolate making and the business. But it’s the high school program that takes quite a bit of time because Shawn takes those students to Tanzania.

Shawn at the Zingerman's staff tasting.

Shawn at the Zingerman’s staff tasting.

“It’s an every other year thing.” says Shawn of the program. “Juniors and Seniors in any Springfield high school – public, private, homeschool – are eligible to apply. They write essays and go through an interview process. And I partner with a local university near the factory to help me evaluate the applicants. We narrow it down to 13 kids out of about 70 applicants.” The students who make the cut then take part in summer intensive program, ‘Bean to Bar Chocolate,’ at the local college. “They spend a week on campus, and get to know each other. They learn about our business model, about profit sharing, about Open Book, the history of Tanzania, its language, culture, and sociology. And they learn about chocolate making, and evaluating cocoa beans. At the end of this week, they go for a day and pack. And then we take them to Tanzania.”

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“Flavor begins with knowing the farmers.”

Shawn, the students, a teacher, and a college professor all travel to Tanzania where they get a first-hand look at how cocoa beans are cultivated and fermented, then prepared for shipment back to the U.S. They live with the farmers in a local village, and everyone pitches in.

“Over half the kids are funded by us, and the rest is made up by donors. It really ends up being a life-changing experience for these kids. When you help drill a water well for people who don’t have clean water, and you then drink from that well…you don’t forget that.” He then tells a story of overhearing a student texting his mother back in the U.S. that “this is the best day of my life!”

Shawn speaks with a ZIngerman's staffer.

Shawn speaks with a Zingerman’s staffer.

...and another.

…and another.

Shawn is smiling as he’s telling this story, and there’s a bit of a hitch in his voice. This is the real work. The vocation, as Shawn calls it.

“As I was telling the folks at ZingTrain this morning, meaningful work is not necessarily derived from the status of the work, or the kind of work. It’s derived the thought and attitude we give it. So we derive the dignity of the work from what we put into it, not what it gives us.” He pauses.

“If you have meaningful work, its a calling. Truly a vocation.”

Later, as I think about Shawn’s words, I take a small bite of his Tanzania Dark Chocolate and let it slowly melt on my tongue. I swear it tastes even better than I remember…

 

ZingLife

Five Questions for Jeff Janssen

Sports Leadership Expert Jeff Janssen at the ZingTrain Speaker Series

We recently caught up with Jeff to ask him five questions:Jeff Janssen mug low-res 2013 (1)

How did you get into the world of Sports Leadership?
I have always been fascinated by the impact that leaders have on a team, especially in the sports and business world.

Do you think Sports Leadership is different from leadership, say in a business? If so, how?
I think effective leadership principles are mostly the same in sports and business – both deal with bringing out the best in people, both involve competitive situations, both rely on building and sustaining championship cultures.

Could you tell us a little bit about the work you do at the Janssen Sports Leadership Center?
We help coaches and captains become world-class leaders who are committed to a lifetime of service, success, and significance. We develop leaders who win on and off the playing fields by teaching them to effectively lead themselves and others.

Could we ask you to name-drop a little for us and tell us who some of your most exciting clients are?
My most exciting clients are Michigan, North Carolina, LSU, Illinois, Arkansas, NC State, and Colorado.

What will your speaker series session focus on?
We’ll focus on 7 Leadership Lessons from sport’s legendary coaches that can be applied by leaders of all walks of life.

John Beilein, University of Michigan Men’s Basketball Coach said,

“Jeff Janssen’s work with the Michigan Leadership Academy has been tremendous.”

We agree! And we’re tremendously pleased to offer a session with Jeff Janssen in this season of ZingTrain’s Speaker Series. If you are looking to build a Championship Culture in your business and help your team consistently perform to its full potential, then this is the session for you!

In this session, Leadership Academy Director Jeff Janssen reveals the seven Leadership Lessons he has learned from consulting with 25 NCAA National Championship teams at top athletic departments including Michigan, Stanford, North Carolina, Arizona, Notre Dame, and many others. Jeff’s program is designed for leaders who want to build a winning team – no matter from which walk of life, or what level of an organization! Please join us this coming Thursday, September 25, 8 – 930am! 

Reserve your seat here

Food, Food Artisans

Renowned Chocolatier Visits Zingerman’s for Two September Events

CHOCOLATE-featured

We’re very happy to announce that founder and CEO of Askinosie Chocolate, Shawn Askinosie has rescheduled, and will visit two Zingerman’s businesses in mid-September to share his story and his chocolate!

Shawn Askinosie had a successful career as a criminal defense lawyer for nearly 20 years before he founded his Springfield, Missouri chocolate-making business. He 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.”

Askinosie Chocolate is a small-batch award-winning chocolate manufacturer with 15 full-time employees. Askinosie sources 100% of their beans directly from the farmers, and Shawn travels to regions of EcuadorHondurasthe Philippines, and Tanzania to work directly with the farmers. This allows the chocolate to be traced to the source and labeled Authentic Single Origin Chocolate. It also enables Askinosie Chocolate to profit share with the farmers, giving them a Stake In the Outcome™. 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.

ZingTrain Speaker Series

On Wednesday, September 17, 8am, Shawn will take the reins at the ZingTrain Speaker Series to tell you his story, the story of how a criminal defense attorney became a chocolate maker. The story of how his business, Askinosie Chocolate, wins more awards for its chocolate than we can keep track of. The story of how his small 15-person business makes a huge positive impact on all it comes in contact with the world over. The story of how you can go about creating meaningful work, creating a business with a vocation.

reserve your seat here


Tasting at Zingerman’s Deli

Later that day, September 17, 630pm, Shawn will share his story at Zingerman’s Events on 4th, and lead us in a tasting of some of his amazing bean-to-bar chocolates. Join us as Shawn talks about Direct Trade, his relationship with the farmers who grow his cocoa beans, and his commitment to sharing profits with the people at the source. Shawn’s chocolate wins awards year after, and you’ll see why when you taste it. Don’t miss this chance to talk, and taste, great chocolate with one of the best!

reserve your seat here

See you soon!

Food, Food Artisans

Renowned Chocolatier Comes to Zingerman’s for Two Events

CHOCOLATE

askinosie-logoWe’re very happy to announce that founder and CEO of Askinosie Chocolate, Shawn Askinosie will visit two Zingerman’s businesses in mid-May to share his story and his chocolate!

Shawn Askinosie had a successful career as a criminal defense lawyer for nearly 20 years before he founded his Springfield, Missouri chocolate-making business. He 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.”

Askinosie Chocolate is a small-batch award-winning chocolate manufacturer with 15 full-time employees. Askinosie sources 100% of their beans directly from the farmers, and Shawn travels to regions of Ecuador, Honduras, the Philippines, and Tanzania to work directly with the farmers. This allows the chocolate to be traced to the source and labeled Authentic Single Origin Chocolate. It also enables Askinosie Chocolate to profit share with the farmers, giving them a Stake In the Outcome™. 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.


ZingTrain Speaker Series

On Wednesday, May 14, 7am, Shawn will take the reins at the ZingTrain Speaker Series to tell you his story, the story of how a criminal defense attorney became a chocolate maker. The story of how his business, Askinosie Chocolate, wins more awards for its chocolate than we can keep track of. The story of how his small 15-person business makes a huge positive impact on all it comes in contact with the world over. The story of how you can go about creating meaningful work, creating a business with a vocation.

RESERVE A SEAT

Students and non-profit organizations will get a 50% discount for this event!


Tasting at Zingerman’s Deli

On Thursday, May 15, 630pm, Shawn will share his story at Zingerman’s Events on 4th, and lead us in a tasting of a selection of his amazing bean-to-bar chocolates. This event sells out fast so get your tickets today!

RESERVE A SEAT

Bonus! If you register for both events, you’ll get three Askinosie Single Origin bars as our way of saying thanks!

ZingLife

Creating a Business Built On Purpose

Vic Strecher

Dr. Strecher has been a Professor in the UM School of Public Health since 1995. He founded the Center for Health Communications Research and has been leading investigator on over $45 million in grant-funded studies. With the University, Dr. Strecher founded HealthMedia Inc. in 1998, an Ann Arbor-based company that develops and disseminates award-winning tailored health interventions to millions of users. In 2008 HealthMedia Inc. was purchased by Johnson & Johnson. Currently, as Director for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, Dr. Strecher is helping the University of Michigan disseminate research to the real world, improving the public’s health nationally and globally.

ZingTrain Speaker Series 2014

The ZingTrain Speaker Series is a suite of thought-provoking presentations featuring experts sharing their wisdom on various aspects of the business world.

Dr. Vic Strecher is our next guest this Wednesday, February 19, 730am – 930am. 

SESSION DETAILS AND REGISTRATION

Vic Strecher could talk to you eloquently and cogently about public health, adventures, the life of cows and dogs in India, dung beetles, modern neuroscience and ancient philosophy, entrepreneurship, disease prevention, innovation …. and if that’s not reason enough to come and listen to Dr. Strecher talk then perhaps this is. Vic Strecher recently emerged from a life experience that made him question his ultimate purpose and being the kind of person he is, he distilled his learnings from the journey into a book On Purpose: Lessons in Life and Health From the Frog, The Dung Beetle, and Julia. The book is a self-help guide, college lecture, confessional, and time-travel adventure all rolled into one. On Purpose uses a beautiful, fantasy-fueled, graphic novel format to tell a story of self-discovery and personal growth you’ll never forget.

Please join us!