The Adapter’s Advantage: Michael Antonorsi on Customer Insight
Welcome to The Adapter’s Advantage: Breakthrough Moments that Lead to Success.
In episode 27, Michael Antonorsi, Chief Joy Activator at Chuao Chocolatier, describes his journey from technology entrepreneur to chocolatier and how he pivoted to save his company from the brink of failure.
“Somebody asked me if there is a word that I would eliminate from our vocabulary and that would be competition.”
Michael Antonorsi is the co-founder, owner, and chief joy activator of Chuao Chocolatier (pronounced chew-wow). After leaving a successful tech career in Venezuela, Michael moved his family to Paris to study culinary arts and on to San Diego.
In 2002, Michael created Chuao. His vision was to share joy with the world through deliciously engaging chocolate experiences. But success did not come easily, and the company found itself on the brink of failure. Michael experimented with flavors and packaging and over time, using his observations of customer behavior, pivoted the company to sustainable growth.
Now, Chuao produces chocolate bars as well as bonbons, caramels, and bark, all crafted with joy in California. The company’s products are known for playful flavor combinations, high-quality ingredients, and adherence to fair trade and responsible sourcing principles.
Michael believes that as long as we are all true to ourselves, we will be the best versions of ourselves and create something that benefits the whole. He built Chuao to operate on the principles of self-discovery, creative wow, arousing experiences, contagious joy, passionate craftsmanship, and grateful giving. The company’s motto is “if it’s not a WOW, it’s not a Chew-wow.”
Listen as Michael describes his journey from technology entrepreneur to chocolatier and how he saved his company from the brink of failure.
Episode 27: Sharing Joy | Michael Antonorsi
From This Episode
Host Mark Magnacca: “Where did you develop this mindset to want to evoke joy?”
Michael Antonorsi: “I think it only happens when you pay attention. I did all the things that everybody does—the whole business thing—build it, try to sell it, you know, run, run, run. And for nine years we were losing money. We were trying to put the cart in front of the horse.
“We were almost ready to shut down and the investors were saying “We can’t continue pitching here, what’s going to happen?” And I just couldn’t stop because I knew we had something beautiful.
“That’s when I started thinking, what is it that we actually do here? And I started listening to all the stories of people that expressed how much joy they felt when they had the chocolates. Then I realized that we don’t do chocolate. We actually offer the ability for people to experience joy.
“At that point in our evolution as a company, I also wanted to get rid of this mission that is related to competition. You know, my dark chocolate is darker than your chocolate or my origin is better than your origin. It’s a tiring competition and I’m honestly an enemy of competition. I love competence, but not competition.
“So I decided to turn the mission into an intention. As an intention, the company is here to share joy with the world through deliciously engaging chocolate experiences. This started a whole evolution in our culture, because to be able to share joy, you have to have joy.”
About The Adapter’s Advantage
Our podcast features leaders from sales, training, and industry who share their personal journeys of transformation and how they are adapting to an ever-changing environment. As your host, I’ll introduce you to some of the most interesting and inspiring people I’ve met over the last twenty years.
The conversations dive into the ups and downs of their journey. Our guests focus on inflection points—the aha moments that, in retrospect, had a critical impact on their success. These interviews will leave you with practical, real-world advice that you can apply to your life.