Louis Rossetto, CEO and Chief Creative, TCHO
Louis Rossetto is a renowned journalist and political activist. In 1993, he and his partner, Jane Metcalfe, launched Wired magazine, a groundbreaking publication that changed the digital landscape forever. Rossetto and Metcalfe started their company with a shoestring budget of $30,000, and sold it for $380 million less than 10 years later. These days, Rossetto is changing the world in another way—creating delicious chocolate. He's the CEO and CCO of TCHO, a luxury chocolate maker whose mission is "crafting the most flavorful chocolate from the world's finest beans." The company is well known both for its innovations in chocolate and its innovations in how cocoa beans are farmed, harvested, and processed. We recently spoke to Rossetto about his incredible career—and, of course, about his latest passion: chocolate.
Monster: As someone who has had two completely different careers, what effect do you think your work has on your overall well-being? Did you notice a change when you switched careers?
LR: Starting businesses is stressful. But fruit tastes better for being put under stress. Maybe life [does] too. Kept me sharp, and made me appreciate all the good stuff I forgot from the first time.
Monster: What excites you or inspires you about your work at TCHO?
LR: We're in the happiness business. We deliver the last good drug: chocolate. We're obsessed with innovating in everything we do. And we don't just talk the talk; we walk the walk: we help make a better world by partnering directly with farmers to help them make a better bean, so we can make a better chocolate and they can earn a better living. The biggest and oldest, the newest and coolest chocolate companies don't do that. Imagine—we’re a little company with its own foreign policy.
Monster: Like anyone's career, yours has had ups and downs—what have you learned from a "down" time?
LR: The best advice I ever got was that I should feel lucky about my biggest setback—that I had received a lesson no one else on the planet could have gotten no matter how much they had paid. Put a different perspective on life from then on.
Monster: Are there secrets to following your dreams? To not giving up? What would you tell someone who does not think they have the courage to follow his or her passion in life?
LR: I used to get these 22-year-olds at Wired who came to me asking what the next step in their careers should be. And I'd answer, “Career, what are you talking about? You're too young to talk that way. What do you want to do, really want to do? Don't wait, do it now, follow your bliss! Because there are no wrong moves—however it turns out, it will prepare you for whatever comes next. Everything is prelude.”
Monster: Did you have some sort of epiphany that led you to chocolate? Was it a moment of clarity?
LR: Took a legal pad and made two lists, side-by-side. On one side, I listed all the things against getting involved with TCHO. On the other, I wrote all the reasons to do it. At the top of that list: remember the children. My father was an engineer. When I was growing up, he had me be his go-fer as he did carpentry and plumbing and general remodeling around the house. I hated it; I wasn't out playing. But later, I realized what a blessing he had given me. Because what he was showing me was how to make things—how to accomplish things. For a lot of people, the making is a mystery. My father made it second nature to me. My kids were born after Jane and I had created and sold Wired. I wanted the kids to see up close how to make things—create a business—so that it would be second nature to them.