What do successful business principles have to do with God and Trappist monks? Quite a bit says August Turak, successful author, corporate executive and software entrepreneur in his tell all book, Business Secrets of the Trappist Monk. Where he explains why “mission, personal transformation and community” are the reasons he adopted the Mepkin Abbey’s business model after a seventeen year association with Brother John and Mepkin Abbey.
Turak frequented the Abbey as a monastic guest in need of spiritual refreshment. Where he adopted their dress, lifestyle and recognized the monks commitment to a special “…mission and management philosophy.” They practiced the Belgian Monks of St. Sixtus’s principle— “piety, not profit” and followed the rule of Saint Benedict—“to pray is to work.”
He describes their “monastic business model” as “service and selflessness” that for the monks was a “by-product of a life well lived.” He saw their 1,500-year-old economic model featured the positives of capitalism while limiting capitalism’s potential for greed and “ethical and internal contradictions.”
Their philosophy also included the word—“authenticity” which Turak knew as a new business model “buzzword” in the secular world. Yet authenticity was not new to the monks who had built their “…businesses, leaders, brands, and products for more than a thousand years” on that belief.
He describes and elaborates on three critical parts of authenticity:
· Mission— serving something of worth with unaffected sincerity.
· Personal transformation— another name for saintliness that transforms ordinary people into “authentic individuals,” also the focus of this book.
· Community— to pray for and commit to authenticity with “…customers, retreatants, government regulators and neighbors…”
Readers also learn the fascinating history of Mepkin Abbey, once the ante-bellum rice plantation owned by Henry and Clare Booth Luce, gifted to the monk’s by the Luce family in the 1940’s.
Today it’s a sanctuary for twenty-five or more Trappist monks who operate the self-sufficient, self-supporting abbey and grounds selling humble commodities like eggs, mushrooms and cheese. For a virtual tour of the beautiful Abbey: http://mepkinabbey.org/wordpress/
While listed as a business book, Turak’s practical and refreshing work includes personal stories and vivid case histories that underscore and portray the principles and ideas of the purpose driven servant-leadership he advocates. Whether a student or business owner, this book on issues of trust, selflessness and personal sacrifice could influence and change the business world as we know it.
I especially liked one quote, “Everyone wants to die like a Trappist monk. No one likes to live like one.” Highly recommended!
‘Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticity, by August Turak, Columbia University Press, Hardcover, 200 Pages, 978-0231160629, $29.95
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Midwest Book Reviews—“Gail’s Bookshelf” www.midwestbookreview.com/rbw/aug_13.htm