From our Dream Team:

August Turak

Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: A Quest for Meaning and Authenticity

August Turak is a successful entrepreneur, corporate executive, award winning author, and founder of the Self Knowledge Symposium, a nonprofit organization that mentors college students.

After a corporate career with companies like MTV, August founded two highly successful software businesses, Raleigh Group International (RGI) and Elsinore Technologies. In 2000 he sold his companies to Identify Software, and in 2006 the combined companies were sold to BMC Software for $150 million.

His essay, Brother John, won the $100,000 grand prize in the John Templeton Foundation’s Power of Purpose essay contest. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Selling Magazine, the New York Times, Business Week, and is a popular leadership contributor at and the BBC radio show, Money Matters. He received a BA in history from the University of Pittsburgh and is pursuing a Masters in theology at St. John’s University, Minnesota. Turak lives on a 75 acre cattle farm outside Raleigh, NC.

Augie attributes much of his success to living and working alongside the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey for 17 years. As a frequent monastic guest, he learned firsthand from the monks as they grew an incredibly successful portfolio of businesses. Drawing on his experience as the protégé of the man who founded the IBM Executive School, 17 years working alongside the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey, and over 30 years of business experience, Augie offers the power to transform your business and your life in his book, Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO’s Quest for Meaning and Authenticity published by Columbia Business School Publishing (July 2013).

What August promises you as takeaways from his presentation:

In today’s climate where the boundaries between personal and professional life are diminishing and organizations are asked to do more with less, I will present concepts that challenge commonly accepted models of what it takes to foster successful organizations and communities.

I will introduce you to the monks of Mepkin Abbey and show you how to share in their incredible success. Using the counter-cultural business model that has been successfully employed by monasteries for millennia, we’ll re-evaluate the notion of what it means to lead successfully. 

We’ll focus on the potential to achieve this success not despite high aspirations, integrity and sense of purpose but because of them.

  • Discover the monastic ‘secrets’ which are at the core of succeeding in an economic era where meaning, authenticity and passion have become key.
  • How Trappist ways and wisdom connects character to the art of leadership and how this unique approach can enlighten us to be both satisfied and super successful in our businesses, communities and personal lives.
  • Why mission, purpose, values, principles, integrity, ethics, service and people are the most critical aspects of business.
  • How we can build authentically sustainable companies where leaders stop managing people and start getting results by managing culture.
  • The 3 types of transformation and what we all really want.
  • Understanding the 3 things that the Monastery, Marine Corps, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the IBM Executive School as led by Louis Mobely have in common and what it means to be a “consciously transformational organization.”
  • Steps to foster a sense of selflessness and community in your organization, why it is critical to your business success, and how it leads to loyalty from employees and customers alike.
  • Why most leadership training is a waste of money. Great leaders and great organizations are distinguished not by their skills but by their values. So, what is the best way to change values?

What August says about why he is participating in the retreat:

What do we really want from life, and more specifically from our work, and why are we having so much trouble finding it? It’s one of the most important questions that we could ask, and yet, we rarely take the time to do it. We’re too busy trying to balance personal and professional obligations. But life is not a balancing act. It’s a transformative journey.

I’m very excited to participate in this retreat with such a stellar line up of speakers and kindred spirits. I believe that the Academy of Culture Ambassadors is providing a unique opportunity for retreat participants who seek personal insight and professional growth and am honored to be a part of this transformational experience.

From August’s personal web site:

“Service and selflessness is at the heart of the 1,500-year-old monastic tradition’s remarkable business success. It is 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 vivid case studies from his thirty year business career with intimate portraits of the monks at work, Turak shows how Trappist principles can be successfully applied to a variety of secular business settings and to our personal lives as well. He demonstrates that monks and people like Warren Buffett alike are wildly successful not despite their high principles but because of them. Turak also introduces other “transformational organizations” that share the crucial monastic business strategies that are so critical for success.”