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Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticity (Columbia Business School Publishing) by [Turak, August]
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Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticity (Columbia Business School Publishing) Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Review

This is an inspirational book that presents a different view of business leadership and success that is important for serious and aspiring business leaders to take into consideration. August Turak also has a narrative voice that is both genuine and authoritative, and he has thoughtfully organized 'take-aways' throughout the book into lists that will be extremely useful for readers.--Lindsay Thompson, John Hopkins University- Carey Business School

I truly believe this book will not only improve your business, but also your life. Read it. Apply what you learn and then, in keeping with the very spirit of the book, pass it on to someone else.--Michael Keaton, actor

This book is both quietly provocative and groundbreaking. With great simplicity, August Turak unlocks these monastic 'secrets' that go to the core of succeeding in an economic era in which authenticity and passion have become key. Who knew the monks had so many things right?--Tom Freston, former CEO of Viacom and MTV Networks

"The Business Secrets of Trappist Monks" is sure to be a business classic. It is a compelling and important tutorial on how to build authentically sustainable companies. August Turak's stories and examples are magical, yet the philosophical ideas they're founded on resonate with truth. It is a must read for the thoughtful executive.--Mark Booth, former chairman and CEO of NetJets Europe

This is an eloquent, powerful book that accentuates the power of trust and the surprising gift that selfless leadership can bring to institutions. August Turak expertly shows how Trappist ways and wisdom connect character to the art of leadership, and how this unique approach can be helpful in our current thinking about leadership, business, and the meaning of our own lives. New insights and ancient truth blend in this remarkable book by a remarkable teacher.--Will Willimon, Duke Divinity School and author of "Sinning Like a Christian: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins"

I truly believe this book will improve not only your business but your life. Read it. Apply what you learn and then, in keeping with the very spirit of the book, pass it on to someone else.--Michael Keaton, actor

The book is an inspirational, provocative and ground-breaking tour-de-force and should be required reading for business leaders and in business schools.--Ray Williams"Psychology Today" (01/01/0001)

"Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks" is an eye-opening read. August Turak delivers a timely, insightful message about the power of purpose and the surprising ways that service can fuel success. The engaging narrative--which is grounded in Turak's rich, diverse experiences as an entrepreneur, corporate executive, and monastic guest--paints a picture of a path to profits that is both pioneering and provocative.--Adam Grant, author of "Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success"

"Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks" is an eye-opening read. August Turak delivers a timely, insightful message about the power of purpose and the surprising ways that service can fuel success. The engaging narrative--which is grounded in Turak's rich, diverse experiences as an entrepreneur, corporate executive, and monastic guest--paints a picture of a path to profits that is both pioneering and provocative.--Adam Grant, author of "Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success"

"The Business Secrets of Trappist Monks" is sure to be a business classic. It is a compelling and important tutorial on how to build authentically sustainable companies. August Turak's stories and examples are magical, yet the philosophical ideas they're founded on resonate with truth. It is a must read for the thoughtful executive.--Mark Booth, former chairman and CEO of NetJets Europe

I truly believe this book will improve not only your business but your life. Read it. Apply what you learn and then, in keeping with the very spirit of the book, pass it on to someone else.

--Michael Keaton, actor

Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks is an eye-opening read. August Turak delivers a timely, insightful message about the power of purpose and the surprising ways that service can fuel success. The engaging narrative--which is grounded in Turak's rich, diverse experiences as an entrepreneur, corporate executive, and monastic guest--paints a picture of a path to profits that is both pioneering and provocative.

--Adam Grant, author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

This book is both quietly provocative and groundbreaking. With great simplicity, August Turak unlocks these monastic 'secrets' that go to the core of succeeding in an economic era in which authenticity and passion have become key. Who knew the monks had so many things right?

--Tom Freston, former CEO of Viacom and MTV Networks

The Business Secrets of Trappist Monks is sure to be a business classic. It is a compelling and important tutorial on how to build authentically sustainable companies. August Turak's stories and examples are magical, yet the philosophical ideas they're founded on resonate with truth. It is a must read for the thoughtful executive.

--Mark Booth, former chairman and CEO of NetJets Europe

This is an eloquent, powerful book that accentuates the power of trust and the surprising gift that selfless leadership can bring to institutions. August Turak expertly shows how Trappist ways and wisdom connect character to the art of leadership, and how this unique approach can be helpful in our current thinking about leadership, business, and the meaning of our own lives. New insights and ancient truth blend in this remarkable book by a remarkable teacher.

--Will Willimon, Duke Divinity School and author of Sinning Like a Christian: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins

This is an inspirational book that presents a different view of business leadership and success that is important for serious and aspiring business leaders to take into consideration. August Turak also has a narrative voice that is both genuine and authoritative, and he has thoughtfully organized 'take-aways' throughout the book into lists that will be extremely useful for readers.

--Lindsay Thompson, John Hopkins University- Carey Business School

The book is an inspirational, provocative and ground-breaking tour-de-force and should be required reading for business leaders and in business schools.

--Ray Williams"Psychology Today" (01/01/0001)

About 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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 415 KB
  • Print Length: 202 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0231160623
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; Reprint edition (4 Jun. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00APDGI12
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #154,903 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition
For almost twenty years I've been drawn to the notion that true leadership in business is about the transformation of consciousness. In writing a Ph.D. around this subject, I found a great deal of literature exploring this topic and related subjects such as developmental psychology, transpersonal psychology, leadership studies and transformative learning. The complexity of all of this could seem overwhelming, yet somehow I knew there must be a simplicity on the other side of it.

On a long flight I took recently I read through Turak's Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks. In it I found readable stories linked to principles that touched me to the core. More than that, they inspired me to tell colleagues that this is how I wanted us to run our new business. It is all well and good to talk about being purpose driven, yet it demands putting those aspirations into practice. This book is a treasure trove of how this can be done.

Out of all that I found useful in the book, three things stood out for me as representing essential distillations of the most important things I had learned from my own experience and doing my Ph.D. The first is that the core business of the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey is service and selflessness. While much is written about servant leadership, the more profound meaning of this orientation only becomes apparent when you hear the stories of how the monks gave of themselves in ways that inspire the best of being human.

The second thing that stood out for me was detachment. It is set as the antidote for identification, which is easy to get caught up in. How often do we identify with our accomplishments, role, position or even sense of power? All of these limit our ability to lead and to inspire performance in others.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a title that will stop you momentarily as you scan through a shelf of books. What do Trappist monks have to do with business? Is this some form of ecclesiastical wordplay?

Yet the world of work is key to the rule of St. Benedict and its motto "ora et labora" (pray and work). Here the author takes an insider's view of monastic life, acquired through a 17-year association as a frequent guest of the monks of Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina, USA and weaves this in with business experiences and case studies to bring forth an interesting and fresh viewpoint.

The relatively-enclosed nature of a monastery reinforces the necessity of cooperation and community cohesion and this can in turn be an essential "corporate lubricant" that is often missing in many businesses. Some business gurus seek to flatten a corporate hierarchy yet even monastic life has a necessary hierarchy of sorts. Determination towards a common series of goals can have a rather cohesive, beneficial effect.

Egg production was the commercial powerhouse of the Abbey with over 40,000 hens literally sitting on a veritable production line, until they switched gears and moved to mushroom production after alleged controversial practices were highlighted by an animal welfare group in the late 2000s. Business is not so uncommon within religious orders either. Some brew beer, some sell preserves and other products yet a philosophy seems to be that they sell to live and not live to sell (meaning that profit is not their sole objective).

This is certainly not your typical business book. It is not dry and full of jargon, it is not full of positivity and rah-rah-you-can-do-it praise.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book wouldn't be for everyone but in my view it is an excellent and thought provoking take on authenticity. Rather more authentic than many of the books I have read on the subject.
It is equally useful from a business or an individual perspective.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Marvelous and inspiring. Bought if for five of my friends after reading it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 79 reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing mix of spirituality, psychology, and business 8 July 2013
By Kenny Felder - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's hard to describe this book because I've never read another like it. It's deeply personal and completely universal; it's nuts-and-bolts business insight and it's profound spiritual insight; it's ancient philosophy told through the lens of "Star Wars" and "The Devil Wears Prada."

The best review I can give, I think, is a direct quote. Watch how he starts with a fairly commonplace psychological insight about money, moves to a concrete business application that most businesses could benefit from tremendously, twists it into an unusual look at the entertainment industry, and then (as he would say) "transcends" all that as he brings it back to his overarching theme of selflessness.

---------------
One of the most useful things I learned as a sales and marketing executive is the concept of "dollar votes"...if we really want to understand what motivates people, we should look at how people actually spend their money...I may argue quite persuasively that helping others is my top priority, but if I donate far more money to my favorite casino than to my favorite charity, I shouldn't be surprised if you remain unconvinced.

In my own company, after some disappointing forays with surveys, we dispensed with this type of market research altogether. Instead, whenever we had a new product idea, we would presell the product into our customer base with a discount for prerelease software. Only if our customers were willing to pony up cold, hard cash would we in turn invest in full-blown product development. If the requisite number of sales was not forthcoming, we gave refunds to the disappointed few and headed back to the drawing board. This approach guaranteed that every product we introduced had a market, and it was actually less expensive and time consuming than traditional forms of market research.

When we look at the world through the lens of dollar votes, we see an almost insatiable human demand for stories. Books, movies, and television are multibillion-dollar industries...The fact that we spend so much money on stories--in good times and bad--demonstrates that stories offer something we really want, not just something we like to say we want.

And what most stories offer is the vicarious experience of transformation. We all learned in English 101 that in every compelling story, the main character must be transformed over the arc of the story...According to dollar votes, the fact that we spend so much time and money watching others being transformed proves that it is this essential transformation from selfishness to selflessness that we all really want. Of course the tragic part of this analysis is that for most of us, this urge toward transformation remains vicarious...deep inside we realize that just as we can't pay someone else to go to the gym, we can't be transformed secondhand either.
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars #2 out of 1000 13 Aug. 2013
By Stephen Schneider - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I'm 65, and I calculate that I have read approximately 1,000 books over the past 50 years. Of those, the most personally influential was "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. The second most personally influential book was "Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks" by August Turak. I can't give you a better reason for reading it.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Performance 11 July 2013
By Jonathan Reams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
For almost twenty years I've been drawn to the notion that true leadership in business is about the transformation of consciousness. In writing a Ph.D. around this subject, I found a great deal of literature exploring this topic and related subjects such as developmental psychology, transpersonal psychology, leadership studies and transformative learning. The complexity of all of this could seem overwhelming, yet somehow I knew there must be a simplicity on the other side of it.

On a long flight I took recently I read through Turak's Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks. In it I found readable stories linked to principles that touched me to the core. More than that, they inspired me to tell colleagues that this is how I wanted us to run our new business. It is all well and good to talk about being purpose driven, yet it demands putting those aspirations into practice. This book is a treasure trove of how this can be done.

Out of all that I found useful in the book, three things stood out for me as representing essential distillations of the most important things I had learned from my own experience and doing my Ph.D. The first is that the core business of the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey is service and selflessness. While much is written about servant leadership, the more profound meaning of this orientation only becomes apparent when you hear the stories of how the monks gave of themselves in ways that inspire the best of being human.

The second thing that stood out for me was detachment. It is set as the antidote for identification, which is easy to get caught up in. How often do we identify with our accomplishments, role, position or even sense of power? All of these limit our ability to lead and to inspire performance in others. Detachment becomes the principle to generate the selflessness described above. It takes us out of our identifications, our limitations; the myths that trap us firmly in their clutches. Detachment brings freedom to inspire and lead by serving a higher purpose.

The third thing is about the transformation of being. While transformations of condition and circumstance can be motivators for performance, they cannot match the power that transformation of being brings to generating business performance. Whether conscious of it or not, we all crave a sense of meaning in our lives and in our work. Given the opportunity to have our work touch the core of our being, we can be inspired to perform well beyond what the call of duty or a paycheck can provide.

Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks is a gem, showing us the path of authenticity so much sought after in leadership today. Listen deeply and let the lessons between the lines seep into your soul.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot better than expected 28 Jun. 2013
By Autamme_dot_com - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a title that will stop you momentarily as you scan through a shelf of books. What do Trappist monks have to do with business? Is this some form of ecclesiastical wordplay?

Yet the world of work is key to the rule of St. Benedict and its motto "ora et labora" (pray and work). Here the author takes an insider's view of monastic life, acquired through a 17-year association as a frequent guest of the monks of Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina, USA and weaves this in with business experiences and case studies to bring forth an interesting and fresh viewpoint.

The relatively-enclosed nature of a monastery reinforces the necessity of cooperation and community cohesion and this can in turn be an essential "corporate lubricant" that is often missing in many businesses. Some business gurus seek to flatten a corporate hierarchy yet even monastic life has a necessary hierarchy of sorts. Determination towards a common series of goals can have a rather cohesive, beneficial effect.

Egg production was the commercial powerhouse of the Abbey with over 40,000 hens literally sitting on a veritable production line, until they switched gears and moved to mushroom production after alleged controversial practices were highlighted by an animal welfare group in the late 2000s. Business is not so uncommon within religious orders either. Some brew beer, some sell preserves and other products yet a philosophy seems to be that they sell to live and not live to sell (meaning that profit is not their sole objective).

This is certainly not your typical business book. It is not dry and full of jargon, it is not full of positivity and rah-rah-you-can-do-it praise. It is a more personal storybook-style, albeit a little awkwardly written and defocussed in places - fortunately the subject is so different and engaging that these little niggles get overlooked. Whilst naturally this book does reflect deeply on religious matters it might be important for some to highlight that it does not seem to be promoting a specific religious agenda or advocating a given spiritual pathway. Irrespective of your religious viewpoint, or lack thereof, a path of certain "behaviour" can be quite interesting to examine.

There is a lot more to this book than just business. The reader gets a wonderful look behind-the-scenes at what can go on in a monastery and how some of the monks function. A sort of human interest look and even a general reader with no specific interest in business or religion may still gain rather a lot from this book if they just pick it up and plough through it. This reviewer was curiously sceptical as to whether this book could possibly work or not. Maybe there was some divine intervention for the author but this turned out to be surprisingly engaging, rather different and a bit of a good read to boot.

If you view this solely as a business book, consider reading it to get a possibly different series of opinions that may shape your future thinking and behaviour. If you are more open to a bit of a broader, general read then you might find yourself getting rather more out of it than you possibly imagined. This might be one of those better books you'd not ordinarily consider purchasing but once you have it in your hands you might not put it down for a long time!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fortune by Way of the Dessert 16 Oct. 2013
By lovedrunkbliss - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
What do you think of when you think of a monk? How about a mercenary entrepreneur who helped launch MTV? On the surface it may seem that elderly men in robes have very little to offer the Fortune 500 world. Truly what could monks who vow poverty and humility teach the money motivated and arrogant world of corporate capitalism? August Turak attempts to answer those questions.
Turak convincingly argues that all people are searching for a transformation of being. That transformation is from being selfish to selfless. Furthermore, and perhaps most radically, that selflessness is the key to maximum success and even profitability. Turak blends motivational and managerial psychology with the best practices of 1500-year-old monastic life.

For me the most evocative thoughts came early when Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey" model were discussed. While the thoughts aren't new they are interesting the light of both the monk's journey and the journey of us all. We all feel calls, face failures, die to ourselves, and experience some sort of rebirth in our life. While there is most certainly an absolute and Christian experience of it the journey itself is faced again and again in the differing rhythms of everyday life. The journey from intern to CEO isn't unlike the journey of novice to abbot. Bothe journeys can be derailed but ego and lack of compassion.

Like Joseph Campbell, this book is only "spiritual" or "religious" in the sense that the author takes on a meta-philosophical approach to his ideas. He is applying the "secrets" of a disciplined life in the broadest ways to business ethics and methods. The book is primarily conversational and contains some real gems of universal wisdom.
Very often "progressive" spirituality takes on dogmatism toward poverty and requires absolutist ideas about capitalism. The argument is that for the world to find it's peace all unfair practices must end. Capitalism, it is argues, only serves to widen inequalities between people and thus is a moral plight. Ironically enough the Trappist monks are both selfless servants of radical grace and capitalists. They make a lot of money selling their eggs, beer, and chesses. However, money is an afterthought and a means to self sustain and serve others. Wealth of course is not evil and anyone who has ever been poor deeply knows that poverty is not a virtue in and of itself.

I'd recommend this book to both secular and religious audiences. However, the author paints himself into a corner with the title and overall idea. I found the connections of sound business practices and sound religious practices to be at times very tenuous in either direction. The overlay of the "Trappist Way" is both the books novelty and executional weakness. There aren't major insights here but their are insights worth reading and taking in.

Bottom Line: 3 out of 5 Stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR,Part 255.
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