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Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticity (Columbia Business School Publishing) Hardcover – July 9, 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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)

Part philosophy, part economics, and very much about service The Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks will guide you to a better understanding of why you do what you do.

(1-800-CEO-Read)

A quite serious and often fascinating read.

(Chief Executive)

Turak has done an excellent job of identifying and articulating the homegrown and unique business model the Trappists use… interesting and unique… It's a book worth reading.

(Cistercian Studies Quarterly)

Book Description

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

--This text refers to the Digital edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Columbia Business School Publishing
  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (July 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231160623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231160629
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kenny Felder on July 8, 2013
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.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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