Chocolate makes you happy – and successful
Before the chocolate maker and all-rounder Josef Zotter appeared on the screen in the overflowing main auditorium of FH Kufstein Tirol, the students received chocolate samples (as one might expect). Persons in charge of the study program International Business Studies distributed the chocolates among the students while Dr. Peter Dietrich welcomed the audience and then handed the session over to Zotter in his chocolate factory.
A non-linear career full of twists and turns
Josef Zotter entertained the crowd in his enthusiastic and cheerful way and talked about his unusual career – which was not exactly linear and planned out but full of twists and turns – but, as he said, always driven by enormous enthusiasm. As a confectionist, he got big very quickly and managed four businesses until he went bankrupt. He then founded a chocolate manufacture with his wife at the parental farming business, which he expanded in a very short time into a model company characterized by quality, innovation, bio-fair sustainability and geniality.
Zotter received multiple awards for his products, but also for his company management and environmental consciousness. After all, his complete and varied assortment of 400 different kinds of chocolates is bio-certified. The chocolate manufacture is 60 % energy independent whereas the edible zoological garden, an experiential bio-farm with old, native animal species and regional fruit and vegetables, is even 100 % energy independent.
Always shout “here”!
In his presentation and the subsequent round of questioning, Zotter also gave students important tips. He always shouted “here” as he recognized and took advantage of opportunities even if this required taking risks. In fact, being different seems to be a common theme throughout Zotter’s story. Students instantly noticed his two differently-colored shoes when he appeared on screen for the first time. He installed a zip line in his factory and generally lives according to the principle of enjoying life and an attitude that loves breaking through barriers of impossibility. This is exactly what has led to the creation of unusual chocolates made with Grammelnuss’n (crispy pork rind) or pig’s blood.
Zotter counseled the students to live authentically and to not distort themselves. According to Zotter, he kept putting off one of the most powerful purchasers in the country over the phone until the purchaser finally decided to come to the factory himself in order to negotiate a delivery contract. Zotter welcomed him: “We can have coffee, but there’ll be no chocolate!” “You’ve got to be kidding, Zotter?” said the purchaser in response. Zotter: “Yes!” They both laughed, shook hands and a good and long partnership ensued.
Having a sense of humor is very important to the chocolate maker – and a principle he lives out every day. Anyone who sees him will get the impression that he does not take himself too seriously, which makes it easy for him to consistently question the status quo and receive inspiration from everyone and everything.