Making the World Go Round: What You Must Know About Success and How Business Really Works

Making the World Go Round: What You Must Know About Success and How Business Really Works
Mar 08, 2012 by August Turak
Success always results from unpredictable “happy accidents.” The secret to success is becoming happy accident prone, and these 6 steps will teach you how to do just that.

I asked a highly successful entrepreneur one time how he had managed to sell so many of his companies. “I’ve never sold a company in my life,” he said with a broad grin. “I just know how to bump into the right people.”

Despite what business school professors would have you believe, business is not a cold blooded science. Success can’t be turned into a step by step approach like working out a geometry proof. This doesn’t mean there is no method to the madness of business. Being able to tell a receivable from a payable does...

The One Great Thing That Every Great Leader Does

The One Great Thing That Every Great Leader Does
Feb 29, 2012 by August Turak
All great leaders are able to make things happen. These seven steps will teach you just how they do it.

On March 31, 2000 we sold our company to an Israeli company slated to go public at the sky high valuations that the irrational exuberance of the Dot Com feeding frenzy was then producing. Two months later the stock market and our dreams of going public collapsed leaving the company desperately short of cash. The board replaced the CEO and a few days later the new CEO, Yochi Slonim, was on a plane from Tel Aviv to New York in search of the venture capital that the company needed to stave off bankruptcy.

When he arrived, he sent me his business plan for...

5 Ways that Steve Jobs, Steve Denning, and Peggy Noonan are Dead Wrong

Feb 15, 2012 by August Turak
I’m a fan of Steve Denning and this column has repeatedly praised Steve Jobs. I religiously read Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal. But as another hero of mine, Popeye, would say, I’ve had all I can stands ‘cause I can’t stands no more. It’s time to right some wrongheaded thinking about why great companies die.


In 1985 I became VP of Sales for a start-up called Applied Control Systems (ACS) that made PC based inventory and accounting software for restaurants. I soon discovered there that were 25 competitors selling a similar product. Worse, at the time very few mom and pop restaurants had a PC or plans to buy one. This meant a “two step sale.” We had to sell a third party PC...

Start With Leadership

Feb 03, 2012 by August Turak
What do I do? It’s always better to manage culture, not people. Start today by being the person who shows a dedication to hard work, selflessness, and your customers. Your colleagues will follow suit.

Don't figure it out, find out: Make a commitment to excellence and keep it. Find out what Turak is really offering those who are willing to take the trip. Begin by leading yourself. Read how Turak suggests that you overcome the resistance that creeps up even when you are doing your best to put others first. Start by doing small things. Read Turak’s response to the question: What did you lose, and find out what was at stake as he was transformed from a selfish to a selfless person. Demonstrate leadership...

The Essential Entrepreneur: What Is Stopping You From Being an Entrepreneur?

The Essential Entrepreneur: What Is Stopping You From Being an Entrepreneur?
Jan 24, 2012 by August Turak
Successful entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, but they all share one essential trait. Find out how to make your own entrepreneurial dreams come true.

Much to the dismay of my long suffering father, in 1985 I exchanged my “fast track” career in the New York City based cable television industry for a job with a cash-starved, software start-up in bucolic North Carolina for half the pay. Shortly thereafter I attended my first meeting of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development that had recently formed in Research Triangle Park (RTP) to nurture entrepreneurship. The speaker was a highly successful Silicon Valley transplant with what might be euphemistically described as “a bit of an attitude.” The first thing he did was ask all the entrepreneurs...

8 Steps to Winning Friends, Influencing People, and Getting Any Damn Thing You Want

8 Steps to Winning Friends, Influencing People, and Getting Any Damn Thing You Want
Jan 12, 2012 by August Turak
Sooner or later every leader realizes that most of the people he needs to be successful don’t report to him.  Business success as well as personal success relies on persuasion. Here are the 8 persuasive secrets from the most persuasive person I’ve ever met.

It was 9:30 in the evening and I was wrapping up an SKS meeting with some undergraduates at Duke University when Meredith Parker, the student president, asked if she could walk me to my car.

“Uh oh,” I thought, “she wants something.”

I was running two cash starved start-ups at the time, and I was so worn out that it was all I could do to facilitate these weekly meetings. Despite my fondness for Meredith, I promised...

State of the State

Jan 10, 2012 by August Turak
What do I do? Look at the environment around you. Write down three things that you can accomplish this month in the spirit of service and selflessness.

Don't figure it out, find out: See the bigger picture. Spirituality is missing and should be applied to our economic and psychological problems in America. Read as Turak answers when a concerned reader asks if spirituality is compatible with business. Get and stay inspired by focusing on what is essential. Read how action leads to more action and eventually inspiration. 3. Pay attention, look someone in the eyes and really try to see them. Find out why a concerned reader thinks that most of us don’t really see what is going on, despite looking. Don’t give in to culture. Watch...

Change Everything

Jan 01, 2012 by August Turak
What do I do? Begin to practice detachment by looking at your situations realistically and objectively. Try to separate your emotions when you take an honest look at yourself. What things need to change and how do your actions affect others. Write down 3 things you can do to improve yourself and your relationships. Ask people close to you to remind you when you are not improving them.

Don't figure it out, find out: Apply wisdom, equanimity, and detachment to every challenge… including love. Find out what Turak is really offering those who are willing to take the trip. Start by leading yourself. Read about how Turak’s offer to work for Louis R. Mobley, founder of the IBM Executive School for free if Mobley...

The Magical Umbrella: How a Monk's Christmas Present Changed My Life

The Magical Umbrella: How a Monk's Christmas Present Changed My Life
Dec 19, 2011 by August Turak
Christmas is rapidly approaching and each year my thoughts return to the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey. For many years I religiously spent several weeks over Christmas living and working alongside the monks, but unfortunately the last couple have been so busy that I've been unable to get away. But of all my wonderful memories, a single encounter with a monk offering to share an umbrella on a cold Christmas Eve remains the single most formative experience of my life.

Streaming audio version: Listen to Brother John Essay

Six years ago I turned this experience into an essay titled, Brother John, and submitted it to the John Templeton Foundation's Power of Purpose Essay Contest. Of all the wonderful compliments that Brother John has...

Steve Jobs and the One Trait All Innovative Leaders Share

Nov 27, 2011 by August Turak
Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly. ― Arnold Edinborough

One day the teacher asked Johnny a question.

“Johnny, the baseball game last night started at 8:00 and ended at 10:43, how long did it last?”

“That’s an easy one,” Johnny said excitedly. “I watched the game. It lasted nine innings.”

Johnny was quickly diagnosed with ADHD, but at last report he is now doing much better. *     *     * I watched a wonderful documentary, Steve Jobs:  One Last Thing, and what struck me as the overarching secret to his success was his voracious curiosity. Jobs wasn’t curious about things that would make him successful. He was successful because he was so...

What Recession? 10 Ways to Keep Your Job and Your Customers in Tough Times

What Recession? 10 Ways to Keep Your Job and Your Customers in Tough Times
Nov 20, 2011 by August Turak
In business we’re forever looking for magic bullets. But when times are tough it means getting back to basics. These lessons from Life 101 will make you indispensable to your employer and your customers.

Several months ago the skylight in my kitchen suddenly sprang a leak. Besides a soggy floor, what was particularly distressing was that I didn’t know anyone I could trust to fix it. Since moving onto a 75 acre farm in rural North Carolina 11 years ago, I’ve had plenty of experience with what the locals affectionately refer to as “jacklegs”: Contractors of all stripes who show up late or not at all who uniformly provide as little indifferent work as they can get away with.

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Why Women Are Arbitrary and Capricious

Why Women Are Arbitrary and Capricious
Nov 14, 2011 by August Turak
The supposed irrationality of women demonstrates not only an even deeper rationality it is pure genius. How men as well as women use arbitrary and irrational demands to distinguish authentic love from its selfish alternative.

I was driving through the Judean Desert with an Israeli friend when he suddenly said, “I just don’t think I could ever be an observant Jew. Most of the rules and regulations in the bible just don’t make rational sense. They seem so arbitrary.”

“You’re right,” I replied, “but their arbitrariness is just what I like about them.” *     *     * The word “arbitrary” has a negative connotation. We associate it with the irrational, whimsical, and capricious. But in our rush to judgment we fail to consider that as mortal...

Determined and Eager

Determined and Eager
Nov 10, 2011 by August Turak
Even my febrile brain is at a loss as to how to apply this wonderful video to business or anything else that is “practical.”  It is just such a wonderful piece that I had to watch it over and over and now feel compelled to share it.  On the one hand it is only a video of a singleman, Mark Alouf, trying his hand at feeding the baby (Sophia)  of another close friend, Jonathan Cook.  Yet there is  a tad of awkwardness on Mark’s part that when coupled with the eagerness of Sophia  touched me.  Maybe we all need to be as determined as Mark is to  share and as eager as Sophia to receive.  Hope you enjoy it half as much as I did.


Determined and Eager



Albert Pujols and the Secret to Spontaneous Greatness

Albert Pujols and the Secret to Spontaneous Greatness
Nov 07, 2011 by August Turak
My brother Tom is a gifted engineer and software developer. He was also my partner in the business we started. One day he said, “I’ve been trying to figure out how you make decisions. I can’t figure it out, but I have to admit that you’re almost always right. So what’s the secret?”

Coming from a younger sibling this was high praise indeed. But all I could say was, “Honestly Tom, I have no idea. I just make decisions.” *  *  * One of my favorite concepts from the ancient mystics is “as above so below.” It’s more scientific equivalent is that the macrocosm is recapitulated in the microcosm.  Both versions are trying to capture that -like an infinite series of nestedRussian Dolls-...

Are You Coachable? The Five Steps to Coachability

Are You Coachable? The Five Steps to Coachability
Oct 24, 2011 by August Turak
A proverb says that only stupid men learn from experience. Wise men learn from other people’s experience. The education I received sitting at Mobley’s feet was priceless, but it would never have happened if I had not been coachable.

In a previous article Three Keys to Getting and Staying Inspired, I suggested that real change is more often spurred by desperation than inspiration. Back in the 1990s my golf game was in such desperate straits that I turned to lessons. For the first month my pro, fresh off the PGA Tour, was strictly professional. Then one day he said,

“Augie, I enjoy teaching you. No matter what I ask you to do you give me 150%. You’d be amazed at how many guys...

Leadership Secrets from a Navy SEAL

Leadership Secrets from a Navy SEAL
Oct 17, 2011 by August Turak
Even in great pain, faced with the test of his life, a Navy SEAL has to have the ability to step outside his own pain, put aside his own fear and ask: How can I help the guy next to me?

Scientists constantly caution against “confirmation bias.” Confirmation bias is just a gussied up way of saying that to the man with a hammer everything looks like a nail. If, for example, we believe that people are lazy we will see laziness whereever we look. I try to be objective, but everywhere I look I still find confirmation that service and selflessness is the key to success.

Eric Greitens, a Navy SEAL, recently published an article in the Wall Street Journal called The SEAL Sensibility. Greitens...

Do You Think Like Steve Jobs? Take this Quiz and Find Out

Do You Think Like Steve Jobs? Take this Quiz and Find Out
Oct 03, 2011 by August Turak
Steve Jobs is a great outside the box thinker. In Can Creativity be Taught? I argued that the best way to teach outside the box thinking is through puzzles, games, and simulations. Here’s a puzzle designed to do just that. Good luck!

Imagine for a moment that it is your job to convince me to buy Microsoft Word as my word processing program. What would you tell me was the single most important feature of Microsoft Word?  Please stop and ponder this question for a minute before moving on. *    *    * Back in the 1990s I was invited to address one of Microsoft’s product teams. I asked them for the most important feature of their own product, and though it was not the Word team, for...

The Pittsburgh Six: A Template for Innovation

The Pittsburgh Six: A Template for Innovation
Sep 26, 2011 by August Turak
In a previous article Can Creativity Be Taught? I argued for the importance of non-linear, lateral or divergent thinking to creativity and innovation. Several people responded that convergent methodologies like reading and even memorization are not necessarily antithetical to innovation. I couldn’t agree more, and if I left a contrary impression I plead guilty to overemphasis in order to make a point. Innovative breakthroughs are the result of the interplay between convergent and divergent modes of thinking.

I recently watched a documentary about six prisoners who escaped from a maximum security, “escape-proof” prison in Pittsburgh. Their exploit was so daring and yes, innovative, that they have gone down as “The Pittsburgh Six.” But what really struck me was the creative process the ringleader...

A Leadership Lesson from Meister Eckhart

A Leadership Lesson from Meister Eckhart
Sep 18, 2011 by August Turak
If the only prayer you say in your life is “Thank You” that would suffice. - Meister Eckhart (1260-1327)

The problem with a sure fire way for beating the stock market is that you have to keep it a secret. As soon as everybody starts doing it, it no longer works. I didn’t invent it, and my mother initially had to beat me over the head to get me to do it, but I eventually mastered an easy, simple, ridiculously cheap, way to be successful in business. My mother called it a “bread and butter note” but it is more colloquially known as a handwritten thank you note.

For as long as I can remember I have kept a stack of cards on...

Ten Ways to Recession Proof Your Career

Ten Ways to Recession Proof Your Career
Sep 11, 2011 by August Turak
Beyond compensation and job security, there are lots of other reasons why mommas should encourage their babies to grow up to be...

Back in the early days of MTV: Music Television I pitched a promotion into management. At the end of the interview the VP said that his only concern was that I didn’t have any management experience. I pointed out that as a sales rep I was already successfully managing hundreds of people across dozens of accounts and had the numbers to prove it. Besides, every sale I made required the internal support of people in marketing, research, engineering, legal, and accounting: folks that didn’t report to me but always went the extra mile for me. “If I can successfully...