August Turak

Author Consultant Speaker

August Turak Unplugged on Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks Book

by August Turak
 

In this video, Turak candidly speaks about his first book: Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticity (Columbia Business School Publishing; July 2013). He shares a behind the scenes look at why he first went to Mepkin Abbey back in 1996. Attributing much of his success as a successful entrepreneur, corporate executive, and award winning author to living and working alongside the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey, he explains he never could have imagined then that he would write this book... A book that shares the secrets he learned firsthand from the monks as a frequent monastic guest as they grew an incredibly successful portfolio of businesses.

Order now through Columbia Business School Publishing

August Turak on the SmallBusinessTalent.com Podcast

August Turak on the SmallBusinessTalent.com Podcast
by August Turak
 

“I think that you’ll find August’s unique perspective both practical and uplifting.”    - Stephen Lahey

August Turak was recently interviewed by Stephen Lahey on the SmallBusinessTalent.com® podcast on business/personal transformation. The SmallBusinessTalent.com podcast provides you with fresh sales and marketing ideas from real-world experts — people with years of hands-on experience building healthy businesses with strong sales and marketing results. The free SmallBusinessTalent.com podcast is hosted by Stephen Lahey and is published once a week. Lahey provides you with practical advice and useful sales and marketing content. All podcast episodes are well-edited — condensed to stay focused, but long enough to deliver actionable information. It’s all about helping you grow your business in a more profitable and fulfilling way.

A Wake-Up Call For Leadership

by August Turak
Oh men, how long will your hearts be closed, will you love what is futile and seek what is false? Psalm 4:2



I was channel surfing one day when I found myself watching an obviously brain injured young woman being attended to by three nurses. She was in a semi-comatose, twilight condition and the nurses were trying to wake her up.  Propping her limp body into a sitting position, they began poking, prodding, and speaking to her sharply while she, with eyes rolling wildly in fear and confusion, angrily flailed at them trying to get them to leave her alone so she could go back to sleep.

Ignoring her resistance, a nurse eventually forced a tooth brush into her hand. With...

The 3 Secrets to Conflict Resolution

by August Turak
Good leaders are great at resolving conflict. Great leaders keep conflict from arising in the first place. Here’s how they do it. In engineering “friction” can be defined as any waste of energy that has been harnessed to produce work. Entrepreneurs grow wealthy by reducing the economic friction between buyers and sellers. In business there is a form of friction that all too often kills plans, wastes energy, and ruins friendships: people fighting with each other. I’ve investigated my fair share of work place squabbles. I almost never found two-legged villains at the heart of the problem. Instead I discovered hard-working, well intentioned people that had unintentionally allowed a disembodied demon into their midst: Ambiguity. In one instance a sales department and shipping department were at...

6 Leadership Tips from Jim Collins

6 Leadership Tips from Jim Collins
by August Turak
In a previous article The 11 Leadership Secrets You’ve Never Heard About, I introduced Jim Collins, my mentor at what is now the A&E Network. Though it has been more than 25 years, the leadership lessons I learned from him remain pivotal to my life. Ordinarily, as Huck Finn might say, I don’t take much stock in “tips.” Human beings prefer the concrete to the abstract, and this largely explains why hope springs eternal for “tips” that putatively allow us to “eat anything you want and still lose weight” in every area of our lives -including business.

However, there are exceptions to every rule, and Jim Collins passed on a number of highly practical tips that I feel no qualms about passing...

Duke University - Five Years with a Zen Master

by August Turak
The Duke University Self Knowledge Symposium proudly presented August Turak who gave his renowned lecture, Five Years with a Zen Master on September 26th in Duke University’s Bryan Center. The crowd was on the edge of their seats as Turak took them on a wild, wonderful ride sharing his experiences in his search for the meaning of life as a young man. Turak delivered an inspiring message of struggles and hope and shared what he discovered including the importance of giving back to the community. In the spirit of service and selflessness and giving back to our community, we offer you; our viewers, the opportunity to watch for yourself in our latest video.



Is The American Dream Dead? The Four Inconvenient Truths Behind Income Inequality

by August Turak
In his latest book The Price of Inequality, Columbia's Joseph Stiglitz argues that America “is no longer the land of opportunity” and “the ‘American Dream’ is a myth.” This Nobel laureate marshals a mind numbing array of statistics to argue that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and that never the twain shall meet: Social mobility in America, says Stiglitz, is a thing of the past.

But apparently all is not lost, according to Stiglitz if we just make Brazil our model by improving education and nutrition and eliminating “corporate welfare” the American Dream may yet rise phoenix-like from the ashes.

While I share the concerns of Stiglitz and other apocalyptic prophets over poverty and income inequality, I...

The Dark Side of Leadership

by August Turak
Never get out of the boat. Absolutely god damn right. Unless you were going all the way. -Willard in Apocalypse Now My Zen teacher wasn’t the mild mannered, taciturn, picture of inscrutable wisdom of myth and legend. He was a highly humorous, iconoclastic, often irascible, full-fledged West Virginia hillbilly with more fire in his Buddha-like belly than most people could stomach. He also wasn’t averse to bitching; and what he bitched about most was all the people who asked for his advice and then never bothered to take it.

One day, in a fit of youthful exuberance, I swore I would do whatever he instructed no questions asked. For a few tense moments he just looked at me silently scanning my soul....

The Power of Why: 5 Keys to Getting Business Right

by August Turak
The mission of Truliant Federal Credit Union is to enhance the quality of life of our members and become their preferred financial institution.

I recently finished a draft of a book based on Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks; an article I wrote for Forbes that tries to explain why a small group of elderly monks who work only four hours a day in silence are such spectacularly successful entrepreneurs and businessmen. The book draws on the seminal work of Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey to argue for an ancient yet emergent leadership model based on service and selflessness that I call the Transformational Organization. Peak performance results from a passionate commitment to a mission worth serving and this is what...

The 11 Leadership Secrets You've Never Heard About

by August Turak
The old distinctions between leaders and followers are gone. Great followers follow by leading. Here’s 11 ways to make sure you do just that. In 1982 I left a great job at MTV: Music Television for what is now the A&E Network for one reason: to work for Jim Collins. A highly successful executive, Collins poured wisdom into my head by the bucket while keeping me in stitches with his big-hearted Irish sense of humor. One day he said:

“Remember Augie, everybody got a boss. The vice president reports to the president and the president reports to the CEO. The CEO reports to the chairman of the board and the chairman reports to his wife. All God’s children got a boss. If you...

The Red Hot Heart of Leadership

by August Turak
All leaders share an absolute commitment to what they are doing, why they are doing it, and to the people helping them get there.

In 1985 I became the vice president of marketing for a privately held, family run, cable television operator that owned 20 cable systems across several states. Anxious to drive revenue, I put together a crack crew of “door busters;” door to door salesmen with names like Paul “The Hammer” Rotstein and Joe “Closin’ Joe” Scalise. These guys cut their teeth selling baby pictures door to door, and they had that ineffable capacity to, as they liked to put it, “leave the women crying and the men signing checks.” These guys were so good that I was afraid...

3 Keys to Getting and Staying Inspired

3 Keys to Getting and Staying Inspired
by August Turak
As counter-intuitive as it may sound, inspiration actually emerges from the soil of action: perspiration is just the water that nourishes it.

Louis R. Mobley, my mentor and the founder of the IBM Executive School in 1956 was a huge fan of IBM’s founder, Tom Watson Sr. It was Watson who invented the famous and often ridiculed THINK posters that were ubiquitous throughout IBM in its early years. Mobley was anything but thin skinned, but he could become downright vehement defending those damn posters against all comers. If the Beatles blamed a lack of “love sweet love” for the world’s problems for Mobley it was a lack of reason sweet reason. While he never said as much, the only thing...

The Business of Nonverbal Communication: How Signals Reflect Your Brand

The Business of Nonverbal Communication: How Signals Reflect Your Brand
by August Turak
Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny  

This M.I. T study on nonverbal communication has a lot to teach about business. So much that, as the article says, “We ignore these ancient signals at our own peril.” Whether we realize it or not, everything we do or don’t do is freighted with nonverbal signals that others are straining to decipher. Whether consciously or unconsciously, experience teaches us all that verbal communication is just as likely to conceal as it is to reveal. Information is infinite and time is very finite. We are all looking for little poker “tells” that will give us...

The Next Fortune 500 Female CEO (It's a Lock)

The Next Fortune 500 Female CEO (It's a Lock)
by August Turak
In a recent article, More Women Are Primed to Land CEO Roles, the Wall Street Journal offered a short list of the 10 women most likely to be named CEOs. While all of these women are spectacularly accomplished, Anne Sweeney, co-chair for Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC is clearly the front runner. I feel so strongly about this issue that if some moss-backed board doesn’t give Ms. Sweeney the nod and damn well soon I fully intend to sell my entire stock portfolio and put the cash under my mattress. (Alas the bump won’t be nearly as big as it was several years ago so I doubt I’ll lose much sleep.)

Ok so I’m biased: I’ve known and admired Anne for over 30...

Warren Buffett and Cardinal Lamberto: The Two Best Kept Secrets to Success

by August Turak
These secrets are so powerful that they could almost be considered pure grace. But though we have been surrounded by them for centuries, we rarely take them to heart.

As a huge fan of the first two Godfather movies, like many people I was disappointed by Godfather III. But I found one scene both profound and compelling. Michael Corleone has turned for advice to Cardinal Lamberto. Reading Michael’s unspoken guilt over the murder of his brother, the Cardinal extracts a stone from a fountain.

“Look at this stone,” he says. "It has been lying in the water for a very long time. But the water has not penetrated it.” He breaks the stone open on the fountain. “Look, perfectly dry.” Michael reaches into his...

EPA on Memorial Day

by August Turak
On Thursday, May 26th 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency held a Memorial Day Celebration and welcomed August Turak as their modern day Renaissance Man and the guest speaker. With 40 years of protecting health and the environment, the United States Environmental Protection Agency knows what it means to recognize the selfless service of others and continues to strive towards what Turak describes as a Transformational Organization. Turak demonstrates through stories and case studies why motivation and passion are in short supply and why these are the two  most important things in life.  

Thank you!! –Elaine Manning, EPA

Great speaker. While society may now view it as just another holiday, we can do all in our power to make sure Memorial Day is properly acknowledged. Great Speaker....

Steve Jobs and MTV: Nine Steps to All the Power You'll Ever Need

Steve Jobs and MTV: Nine Steps to All the Power You'll Ever Need
by August Turak
Authentic power arises from compelling communication. Every great leader is a powerful communicator. It worked for Steve Jobs. Here’s how to make it work for you.

In 1981 I joined Warner- Amex Satellite Entertainment Company (WASEC). WASEC distributed The Movie Channel, Nickelodeon, and MTV: Music Television to the nascent cable television industry, and my job was convincing cable television operators to carry our programming.

The first thing my boss did was send me out on the road with Mark Greenberg. For three days we crisscrossed New Jersey calling on clients before returning to New York with a brief case bursting with freshly signed contracts.

I considered myself a pretty good salesman, but I was dazzled by Mark. As we drove through the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan I blurted out his secret,...

A Leadership Prescription (Not Vicodin) from Dr. House

A Leadership Prescription (Not Vicodin) from Dr. House
by August Turak
It may be pure folly to try and unravel the Gordian Knot of Dr. House’s leadership philosophy and teaching methodology, but here are a few points that may or may not shed some light.

 

One of my favorite scenes in the TV series House shows two of his students, as usual, trying to keep up with the Master. One bitterly complains that what they are going through is just the latest in a long string of mind games orchestrated by House for God knows what reason.

“It’s all a script,” he says, “and each of us is supposed to play our part. Well, I refuse to play his game.”

“That’s just what House is counting on,” says his colleague. “The part you’re scripted to...

Zen Leadership: The Toughest (Best) Business Decision I Ever Made

Zen Leadership: The Toughest (Best) Business Decision I Ever Made
by August Turak
He cared deeply, lived carelessly, and couldn’t care less, and he died in the same obscurity into which he was born.Yet he remains the greatest leader and most remarkable man I have ever met. Everything that is best in me I owe largely to him.

 



In 1973 I dropped out of college and took a job jockeying a jack hammer in order to study full time under a West Virginia hillbilly, family man, house painter, and Zen Master hovering just above the poverty line in Wheeling, West Virginia. A poster child for the anti-guru, he claimed no lineage, accepted no money, and I was his first student. He cared deeply, lived carelessly, and couldn’t care less,...

10 Leadership Lessons from the IBM Executive School

10 Leadership Lessons from the IBM Executive School
by August Turak
But failure was not an option for Mobley, and after many a dark night of the soul he hit upon the answer that turned IBM into the fastest growing and most admired corporation in the world…

In 1955 IBM’s legendary CEO, Tom Watson Jr., gave my mentor, Louis R. Mobley, a blank check and carte blanche to create The IBM Executive School. Fresh from successfully implementing IBM’s first supervisor and middle management training programs, Mobley confidently set about churning out executives as well.

The first thing he did, in conjunction with GE and DuPont, was hire the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the same company that still does the SATs, to identify the skills that make great leaders great. Once these intellectual skills were identified, Mobley and his colleagues at GE...