Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticityby August Turak
Service and selflessness
August Turak is a successful entrepreneur, corporate executive, and award-winning author who attributes much of his success to living and working alongside the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey for seventeen years. As a frequent monastic guest, he learned firsthand from the monks as they grew an incredibly successful portfolio of businesses.
Service and selflessness are at the heart of the 1,500-year-old monastic tradition's remarkable business success. It is an ancient though immensely relevant economic model that preserves what is positive and productive about capitalism while transcending its ethical limitations and internal contradictions. Combining vivid case studies from his thirty-year business career with intimate portraits of the monks at work, Turak shows how Trappist principles can be successfully applied to a variety of secular business settings and to our personal lives as well. He demonstrates that monks and people like Warren Buffett are wildly successful not despite their high principles but because of them. Turak also introduces other "transformational organizations" that share the crucial monastic business strategies so critical for success.
Meet the Author
After a corporate career with companies like MTV, August Turak founded two highly successful software businesses, Raleigh Group International (RGI) and Elsinore Technologies. He received a B.A. in history from the University of Pittsburgh and is pursuing a Masters in theology at St. John's University, Minnesota. Turak's essay "Brother John" received the grand prize in the John Templeton Foundation's Power of Purpose essay contest. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Selling Magazine, the New York Times, and Business Week, and is a popular leadership contributor at Forbes.com. His website is www.augustturak.com.
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. How do you measure or compare the success of this Trappist monks company compared to a typical secular business? There are two major cost (overhead) components that are missing from the Trappist monks that make the definition of their success ambiguous at best. None of their employees are paid and they are a tax exempt organization. What would happen to their business if these two very common, cost of doing business, were applied? How about failure? No wonder they were able to sell eggs and mushrooms on the cheap and have a competitive (unfair) advantage. I can’t help but respect the monk’s selfless work ethics but the reason for their success is no secret. Do the math. Great concept but it doesn’t pass through the test-tube of reality economics.
Being selfless, authentic and trustworthy may seem like quaint characteristics to cutthroat capitalists, but in Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks, August Turak argues that these qualities are essential to ever-greater success not only in life but in business. Through Turak’s many retreats to Mepkin Abbey, we get to know Brother John, Brother William and the other colorful monks who authentically live the Trappist way. Their hard work unquestioning devotion to God and community transforms Turak in his own business dealings. One example he tells - upon finding out Microsoft’s plan to take over the manufacturer of his company’s product (Source Safe), thereby rendering it obsolete, August tells his partners at RGI he’s leaving. But after a weekend of soul-searching, he realizes he can’t abandon ship. He must keep his word to his partners and employees come what may. The next months are harrowing until the deal is done but then a funny thing happens - Microsoft makes Source Safe their only provider and soon competitors want it too! RGI becomes bigger than ever. If we are, as Turak hopes, to transcend capitalism then we have to accept that it’s not only okay, but necessary to believe that we work for interests greater than our own. (Take THAT Ayn Rand!) It’s a great book, conversational in style and a quick read for all you masters of the universe out there – and for the rest of us too! Highly recommend