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America, Ukraine, Chocolate, Trucks

America, Ukraine, Chocolate, Trucks

Hello and good day!

We received a shipment of chocolate yesterday. It was a pretty good load, about ten tons of lovely Fortunato No. 4 chocolate, fresh from Switzerland.

The chocolate was made with cacao that we harvested during the middle of the 2022 harvest season. We still have a good amount of 2022 harvest cacao left and we'll be making chocolate with that into the fall.

Come December, we'll start making chocolate with cacao that we are buying from the 2023 harvest.

Normally when we receive a big shipment of chocolate, it is a multi hour affair that requires a lot of sweating and grunt work.

But not this time.

We were served by the best freight trucking company that I've ever seen. They had a bunch of hydraulic gear that made the whole thing a breeze. We weren't even charged extra for use of the equipment. The trucking company had invested in it to make the work faster and easier. Good for them and good for us.

The whole thing was so painless that I ended up with a few minutes to spare and I spent those few minutes chatting with the owner of the truck line.

It turned out that he had come along with the shipment because he wanted to see who was receiving so much chocolate. I told him our story and how the cacao in the chocolate comes from the northern Peruvian jungle.

Then I asked him where he was from and he told me his life story.

He is a Ukrainian gentleman who moved to the United States more than 30 years ago.He also lives here in the Seattle area about 40 minutes from where I live.

That is one of the things I really love about the United States in general, and the Seattle area in particular.There are so many people from other countries.

The United States is such a diverse place.

You see diversity in Peru, but your chances of happening upon a Ukrainian, for example, are very low. I personally know at least half a dozen people from Ukraine who I see regularly in our chocolate shops.

Anyhow, I realized something during my conversation with this fine gentleman.

He repeated something that I've heard so many immigrants say about the United States. And the fact that it is immigrants saying it gives special insight to the commentary.

Before I proceed, I'd like to point something out.

The way an organization is seen from the inside and the outside tends to vary. The way customers view a company, and the way a company views itself, may diverge quite a bit.

This is where things like customer satisfaction surveys are important.

You might think you are doing a great job, but the customers might think otherwise. I obsessively read the reviews people leave on our website and feed that information back to our team.

We might think a product is killer, but if customers don't like it, what we think is essentially trivial, because it is the customers who make the whole thing possible. And a customer's opinion is an outside view. They are outside looking in and telling us what they think.

On the whole, customers say they like our company because our chocolate is really good and they like how we treat the cacao farmers who sell us cacao. So logically, if we want to continue to be successful, making great chocolate and continuing to do right by our farm partners should be our goals.

How we achieve those goals is an operational matter. But what we should be aiming at are the things that our customers tell us they like.

Alright, get a load of this. I've almost never heard any immigrant say they came to the United States for the free health care or free schooling or food stamps.

I've had 50 to 100 conversations with folks from other countries over the last couple of years in which the person told me what they like about the United States. Think of these as customer satisfaction surveys.

Everybody has said pretty much the same thing.If you come to the United States and work hard, you can make an excellent life for yourself.

That's it. Over and over again. If you work hard, you can realize the fruits of your labor.

I've asked these people why they think that is. Why does that seem more possible here than in other places?I always get pretty much the same answers to this question as well.

It's peaceful. The government isn't dictatorial.There is freedom. Internal peace and economic freedom. That is pretty much what it boils down to.

I mention this because when you are born in the United States, or if you work for a successful company for a long time, you may lose track of what it is that makes the whole thing work.

How goals are achieved in a business are operational questions. How do we make great chocolate and pay cacao farmers well? We centralize post harvest processing and cut out middle men.

In a country, the way in which you pursue national goals are through policy. If you want internal peace and economic freedom, what does that look like?

It is up for debate. But if you are debating multiple goals and also debating the policies that need to go along with a bunch of different goals, the whole thing becomes erratic and goes haywire.

I agree with my immigrant friends of course. Peace and freedom are the secret sauce for a well functioning society. The question of what will produce those outcomes should be the focus of policy debates. That is my opinion at least.

Anyhow, I thank my Ukrainian friend from yesterday for the reminder. I sent him home with some free chocolate as a thank you.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!