Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticity

August Turak

Columbia Business School Publishing,  July 2013

What a highly successful, centuries-old practice can teach the corporate world and how it can bring more meaning to one's career.

In addition to his work as an entrepreneur, corporate executive, and consultant, for the last sixteen years August Turak worked alongside the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey, watching firsthand as they undertook new enterprises and sustained an incredibly successful business practice.

Service and selflessness are at the heart of this 1,500-year-old monastic tradition's remarkable business success, 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 the lessons he's learned from thirty years of business experience with intimate portraits of the monks at work, Turak shows how Trappist principles have been successfully applied in a variety of business settings. He demonstrates how the monks and such agnostics as Warren Buffett are wildly successful not despite their fanatical commitment to the highest principles but because of them. Turak also points to other "transformational organizations" that share critical components of the abbey's philosophy conducive to success.

Hardcover | ISBN: 9780231160629 | Publication Date: July 2013


"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 Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks will not only improve 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, Wharton professor and author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

"This book is both quietly provocative and groundbreaking. With great simplicity Turak unlocks these monastic "secrets," secrets that go to the core of succeeding in an economic era where 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 the Trappist Monks is sure to be a business classic -- it is a compelling and important tutorial on how to build authentically sustainable companies. 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 & CEO, 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. 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, former Dean of the Chapel at Duke University and author of Sinning Like a Christian: A New Look at the 7 Deadly Sins