Welcome to the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview with Mr August Turak
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Introducing August Turak
August Turak is todays guest ready to be interviewed on the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast.
He is an author and entrepreneur who has had a life that can only be described as a bit different.
Not many people get to have the experiences in business and life that he has, after all who gets to study business with a bunch of Trappist monks?
I didn’t even know that monks studied business, and more importantly were extremely successful at it.
But August Turak knows, and it was detailing these experiences and insights that allowed him to pen the bestseller “Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO’s Quest for Meaning and Authenticity.”
How The Dots Joined Up For August
But that is just a small part of his story.
As with a background of sales, marketing.
Determination, spirituality, mindset, MTV and the belief that “It is in your own self interest to forget your self interest”
He is someone who would make a perfect guest for multiple shows.
Well let’s bring onto the show to start joining up dots, as we discuss the words of Steve Jobs with the one and only award winning, and hugely motivational – August Turak
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with August Turak such as:
How a small child’s walk in the snow, singing Xmas carols might well have shown the path to the future!
How being selfless will help you find your true calling!
The less he focuses on money the more he makes!
How loneliness as a youngster helped him realize that there was a better way to be!
How To Connect With August Turak
Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks [book by August Turak]
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Audio Transcription Of August Turak Interview
David Ralph [0:06]
Hello there. Welcome to today’s guest. Now, today’s guest has had a life but can only be described as a bit different. Not many people get to have the experiences in business and life that he has. After all, who gets to study business with a bunch of Trappist monks. I didn’t even know that monks studied business and more importantly, were extremely successful at it. But our guest knows, and it was detailing these experiences and insights that allowed him to pin the bestseller, business Secrets of the Trappist monk, one CEOs quest for meaning and authenticity. But that is just a small part of the story. And with a background of sales, marketing, determination, spirituality, mindset, MTV, and the belief that it is in your own self interest to forget your self interest is someone who would make a perfect guest for multiple shows. But we only have him at the moment, but this one, so let’s get down to business and start join up dots with the award winning and hugely motivational. August chilliwack. How are you sir?
August Turak [1:56]
I’m doing great David glad to be with you.
David Ralph [1:58]
Thank you very much for being on the show today. You’re an interesting character. Yeah, because I like to do my research and going into your history. You don’t really know where to start you you’ve you’ve moved through phases and areas that I wouldn’t have expected most businessmen and entrepreneurs to do.
August Turak [2:18]
Well, you know, I think it’s a pretty interesting background. it at first, it looks pretty disjointed, because as I like to say there was never any plan to my life. But I think there was also as you would say, I mean, I love the concept of your show join up dots which in America, we probably call it say connecting the dots. But I would have as well.
David Ralph [2:42]
I couldn’t get the URL.
August Turak [2:46]
But the but there’s a there’s a way, there’s a method to my madness, I think that runs through the entire arc of my life, even though in specific ways jumping from MTV, as you mentioned, to, to writing articles and books. And being a CEO of an entrepreneurial startup and working with a Zen teacher and all these different things that I’ve done at first glance would seem to be disjointed, rather than joined up.
David Ralph [3:14]
You say the word madness, that’s an interesting word to use what what has struck you as being mad really, in those sort of leaps from one thing to another?
August Turak [3:26]
Well, I think that the Mad this part of it, although I was using a metaphor, I hope I’m not mad. But I think the madness to it is that most of my life was spent playing over my head. You know, I somebody just pointed I’d like to use this quote a lot. It’s not. It’s from Kierkegaard somebody pointed out is that the problem with life is it must be live forward, and only understood backwards. And so the madness part of it is that I never knew what was coming around the next corner with my life. And that, in that sense, it was a always an adventure, it was always who knows what’s going to happen next, I didn’t have a plan that I want to be a millionaire by the time I’m 30. or, or, you know, I want to date the three most beautiful women by the time I’m 25, or something like that.
David Ralph [4:13]
Dude, I don’t have time, you
August Turak [4:17]
know, I didn’t quite make the million bucks. By the time I was 30. But I actually gave you the most beautiful women. I got them by the time I was 21. But that was purely an accident. And that’s that’s, and that’s the reason why I say that, that life, you know, the type of life that the trap is, obviously leads to happy accidents. But just you know, that’s, for example, how I got my job at MTV when MTV started out in 1981. It was a complete accident. But I like to think that although I didn’t have the words for going all the way back to when I was 20 years old, I had a strong mission for my life. And most people don’t understand that there’s a huge difference between having a mission and a plan. You know, a mission is an open ended quest search. You know, and I, the one I the way I describe my mission now, which I believe has always been my mission. Again, I didn’t have the words for it is to be become the best human being I could possibly be, to find the life to find the life worth living and live it. And this quest that I set off on when I was led me to all these various places, whether it was a Zen master that I studied under for five years, I temporarily dropped out of school for five years to study with him and then came back and and then that led me over to this guy that I ran that I bounced into. And he ended up being the founder of the IBM executive school and I became his protege. And and then I’m off to New York and MTV. Always though everything that was being motivated behind me. Was this longing to find the life worth living and live it.
David Ralph [5:52]
Have you ever had a sort of dark period August, the date, this desire to be the best person you can can possibly be? Is that a reaction to going through a part of your life? When you look back? And go, Ashley, that wasn’t who I wanted to be? I was a bit off the rails
August Turak [6:09]
up? Oh, well, I think I think it was constantly an alternation between the light and the dark. I think that even as early as in my is, you know, I want our scholarship to go. I was I grew up in a large family, eight kids, I was the oldest of eight children, we didn’t have much money, I lived in a very small house in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, we would have been called lower middle class at the time. But, you know, by today’s standards, we were dirt poor. And but I wanted a scholarship to go away to a prep school. And I had a very, very difficult time there and almost failed and almost flunked out a number of times and didn’t seem to have be able to make friends and, and even when I finally got to college, and I started to make friends and started to really find myself, you know, I started to have this sense of Wait a second, I think I put it on Facebook, and a lot of people related what I said as a young man, it’s it hit me with a terror, just how easy it would be to waste my life. How young and
David Ralph [7:08]
how young Will you vote when that vote coming? Because that’s it. That’s a big fall, isn’t it? That’s life changing?
August Turak [7:15]
Absolutely. I was only 18 or 19 years old. And I started to really think to myself how you know, it’s Look, I mean, I think part of it was being the influence of the times, you know, it was the early 70s were coming out of the 1960s. And, and I you know, we mentioned before we went on the air today, what’s it all about? Alfie, you know, was the the movie The Michael Caine movie that came out right around that time, and it was a big hit. hit song in the United States. What’s it all about? Al fi, you know, and, and, and the way that was a theme of everybody was looking right? So what is it all about? What is reality? What, what are we here for? what’s the what’s the purpose of life that was in the Air during those times? I think most people just kind of don’t, well, you know, this is Sex, drugs and rock and roll. And that’s all they did with it. But with me, it really caught on with me. And I think coming out of this relatively traumatic experience that I had a prep school, which I now am very, very grateful for. Because if I hadn’t been so tremendously challenged, I don’t think I’ve ever become introspective or started to think about these big questions. But I started to really just sense that I was the kinds of books that I started picking up early in college, the typical kind of well, I call them typical Hermann Hesse Damion, and in Siddharth of books and, and Don Juan books and the things I started to read, I said, wow, you know, there’s got to be something more to life, there’s got to be something bigger to life. What is that? I would call it now a religious quest, a spiritual quest. There’s got to be something more than, you know, TS Eliot, the famous American who became a British subject and Griff, my probably my favorite poet poet, says at one point, he said birth copulation and death, birth, copulation, and death. Those are the facts when you come to brass tacks, Earth copulation, and
David Ralph [9:10]
there’s nothing moves Is
August Turak [9:11]
that it? Is, is that is that it? Is that all? And to me, that’s thought, you know, filled me with horror. There’s gotta be something more, so I went looking for it. So
David Ralph [9:22]
did you? Do you think it was purely the loneliness and the, the feeling of being isolated? Doing yourself prep school that really dictated your life pushed you in this direction? Or were you just always a child? I,
August Turak [9:40]
you know, I think that in some ways, I was always an aware child as well, I think back to some of the things and some of the dreams and things that I had when I was when I was very young. As a matter of fact, I have an unpublished manuscript that I never tried to get published that I wrote, and, and I really, in the first chapter for that book, I tried to get into the various question that you’re asking, which is, which is troubled me a lot. You know, why me? So many people have said to me, even an editor, the first editor I had for my writing said to me, you know, what’s interesting about you Auggie said is that, you know, a lot of what things the questions you’re talking about that occurred to you and your late adolescence, you said their typical late adolescence questions. They’re the typical existential crisis kinds of questions that, that hit a lot of young people, he said, but the big question is, you did something about it? Why, why? And to in and I like to consider myself somebody who has an answer for everything. But I don’t have an answer to that question. I really don’t. But I do look back to my, you know, early childhood and little, little things. I’ll tell you a real quick story. When I was first, see myself as a young even as a boy, a very young boy, being a romantic. And I love Christmas, I was very romantic about Christmas, and Santa Claus. And everything about Christmas just filled me with magic, you know. And, and so one year, I couldn’t have been more than six, seven years old. And I decided that I’d heard about this thing called Christmas caroling. And I thought it would be the greatest thing in the world to go Christmas caroling. So I went to next and I went down this up and down the street where I lived, it was cold and snowy, I remember that Christmas and, and I knocked on the door and went saw my my friends from the neighborhood. And I said, Come on, I told him what it was. I said, tonight, we’re going to all going to get together, and we’ll go Christmas caroling. And that all these boys said, Sure, you know, not all there was five years, four or five of them. And then I went home and told my mother and she was alright with it. And so when it came to but when it came time to go was dark, and I went and knocked on all their doors, every single one of them said no. They are chickened out from from doing it. And I went home. And I went to my mother and I said, I’m going by myself. And I remember again, we didn’t have a lot of my father worked. He was actually a white collar job. He worked for the railroad. And the only flashlight that we had in the house was a railroad lander, which was a very heavy flashlight. And one of the reasons why I know that I was very young was that I had to use that flashlight to see my little hymn book. So I could sing You know, the songs out of it, the carols. And the flashlight was so heavy that I had to prop it onto my shoulder. Because it was too heavy for me to hold so I could focus it on my hands. And I went down, I lived in a very quiet neighborhood with a street that didn’t have much traffic on it. So I blocked myself plop myself in the middle of the street. And I started up the street singing Christmas carols at the top of my lungs, I was so young that I didn’t realize that probably the best thing to do to go Christmas caroling would be to go to people’s doors and knock on them. And, and then we come to the door. And then I would sing to them or something. I just started down the street singing at the top of my lungs all by myself. And I went about a quarter of a mile that way singing, no one came to the door, no one looked out. I didn’t didn’t take I don’t think anyone saw me or heard me. I got to the end of the street, I turned around, and I came back singing at the top of my lungs. And when I got back to my house, my mother was waiting for me in the driveway. And I collapsed into her arms crying. And, and I because I didn’t enjoy it at all, I wasn’t having any fun at all, I was miserable. And I was so let down and disappointed that these other boys didn’t want to go with me. But when I look back to that time, I see in myself this sense that I am not going to let other people determine my life. I have a I have this romantic ideal. And, and it’s something higher that I you know that I see, in a metaphor of the Christmas carol being some something higher, something more magical, something more beautiful. And if I’m not careful, other people who are initially may say they want to take the trip with you or they want to go with you or not going to go with you. All right, but you can’t let them stop that stop, you
David Ralph [14:13]
know, I bet you August, if you found those kids now, not one of them has achieved as much as you have in your life. Because it seems to me from even little legs walking along the street, you were an action taker, you might have been bloody minded as well. But you actually were an action taker. And I think that is the thing that really stops everyone, they all go out. It’s not worth it, it’s not going to happen once you don’t do it. But once you actually take those steps, and I think that actual story is a metaphor for everything that I’m personally trying to achieve on these episodes. And the kind of that the emphasis, I want to get over to people, but you just take one step after another, and you will get get to where you want to go. And it may not be a straight line, it may be a wobbly line, it might be whatever line. But unless you take those first steps, you’re never going to achieve. And I bet if you look back, you was always that kind of child. So where you are now, with the career that you’ve had, as all really stemmed from your your, your being your your passion, your personality. You’re an action taker, what you think about that? Is that is that too? I say to me, I think,
August Turak [15:28]
no matter of fact that you know what I like about it? Is it simple, not deep. It’s common sensical. You know, it’s reading not too long ago, somebody was talking, it was a discussion among people like Martin Scorsese, or something about, Oh, I remember what it was. Excuse me, it was a discussion about why the Godfather movies were so popular. And one of these famous director said, Well, he said, it’s not really that complicated. He said, it is the universal fascination with the man of action. That everybody is everybody wants to be a man of action. You know, my old Zen teacher used to say all the time, he said, People want to make things more complicated than they really are. He said, Everybody wants to be able to predict the future and have control over their lives and have it. In other words, they want to make predictions about the future and have the ability as a human being to make those dreams come true. And the kind of person that we admire is the kind of person who can both conceive of an alternate future of some type and has the ability to do it. It’s interesting that you said what you said because my Zen teacher was a wild man. West Virginia hillbilly he was anything but a Japanese or Chinese taciturn guy, he was really amazing. He’s still the most of the man I admire most of my life. And people used to ask him all the time, you know, what was the secret to his success in spirituality and, and Zen and stuff. And they were always expecting some wonderful revelation. And he would always just say, I put one foot in front of the other, and I never looked back.
David Ralph [17:06]
And he says it. Right?
August Turak [17:09]
It’s as simple as that. And it’s just saying, and I would see the disappointment in people’s faces with his answer. But the fact that it is it absolutely is the other answer that he you know, I asked him one time, what is the most important thing that you ever did in your life with your on your own quest in your search, you know? And he looked at me and he said, it isn’t what I did that mattered so much. It’s what I didn’t do. And he walked away, you know, and I thought, well, you know, as the years went by, and I never got any elaboration on it from him, I thought, wow. At the time, I just thought it was kind of being a jerk at that now. I realized it’s kind of what he’s great Zen co. nz is great Zen puzzle, because I don’t understand I spent a lot of time.
David Ralph [17:56]
Okay. And I’m thinking I don’t get this one.
August Turak [18:01]
It’s not what I did. That matters so much. It’s what I didn’t do. And I actually end one of my chapter in my book business Secrets of the Trappist monks, I, I start with this puzzle, and I believe I come with at the very end, I give my answer to it. two things. One, it’s in the book is he never sold out. Yeah, okay. In other words, he never compromised his principles. He was authentic, you know, I used to, he was authentic. And he and I, as I got to know the man more and more, I realized that, that he was a wonderful and a beautiful guide, a very compassionate and loving man. And you were anyone was Welcome to share in everything he knew and, and share his quest and walk along the road with him. But do not ever try to take him off that road. Do not ever try to sway him from what he knew he had to do with his life. Do not ever switch him with that. We were talking about mission earlier, he had a mission for his life. And do not ever try to get him to compromise on that mission. Because no matter how much he loved you, he would leave you
David Ralph [19:11]
was he single that although
August Turak [19:12]
there were some? No, he was not. And that’s a part of the interesting story, too, because he had children and everything else. But uh, but the so that was the that was to me the corollary The other thing, what is the other thing that he never did? The other thing that he didn’t do? He never quit? You know, I have people ask me all the time, you know, well, how do I know that I, you know, we we like to make things harder than they really are. Because we need we want rationalizations for doing nothing. Absolutely. And one of the rationalizations is people asking, Well, I don’t want to commit myself, I don’t want to, you know, start putting one foot in front of the other until I know that I’m doing the right thing, and I’m on the right path, and I have the right goal or mission or whatever. And I think that’s a bunch of BS.
David Ralph [20:02]
Don’t don’t don’t use a proper word, because this is stronger.
August Turak [20:08]
Bullshit. My, my, my life, I have learned, I have met 1000 people who have suffered from not taking any action that I have for people who have taken the wrong action. Yes, there’s dangers out there. But most of the time, assuming we don’t murder someone, and end up in prison for the rest of our lives. I mean, the mistakes that you will make in your life can be remedied. And there’s even what is the old saying you fail your way to the top. So that you learn you learn things from these failures. So the fact is, take start taking those steps, one one step at a time. And I’ll tell you the that another thing that really that I think is a is a double edged sword, is a lot of people will say to me, they’ll flatter me, they’ll say, you know, you’re wonderful or you’ve had, you’re so smart, or you’ve had such an incredible life or you this that or the other thing, and I’m always listening with two, with two ears to that. On the one hand, yes, it’s Thank you very much. It’s very nice of you to say that. But on the other hand, I think Wait a second, you’re trying to put me on a pedestal. And the reason why you want to put me on a pedestal is you want to say, Well, of course if I had everything going for me that Tarek has going for him, Well, then, of course, I would have do all these things, too. But he’s, you know, he’s a special man. And that’s why he’s been able and I have and I want to say no, no, no, no, no. That you’re only thinking that way because you want to let yourself off the
David Ralph [21:46]
hook. I totally agree. I think I totally agree with what you’re saying there. Because I think we have i’m not i’m
August Turak [21:53]
David Ralph [21:54]
go Yeah, I think we have a problem that we only see the highlights of people’s lives. And we don’t see the struggle Halle get there. You see the Simon cows. You see the Richard Branson’s, you see the Paul McCartney’s, you see all these famous people and you see them with all the money in the world and the success. But you don’t see when Paul McCartney had to sleep in a slum in Hamburg for a year. And you don’t see how Richard Branson had no money and you don’t see how Simon cow was made bankrupt, you only see the glamorous side, because that’s really where we only want to focus. Because if we focus in on the glamorous side, it stops us, as you’re saying, actually giving it a go because we kind of think of a special is never going to happen to us. But it happened to them. So why the hell can it happened to us?
August Turak [22:44]
Absolutely. You know, I in 2004, I’m really enjoying this, you and I are so so compatible. We’re soul mates, I feel like I’ve known you all my life decades, the deep the 2004 No, I come up through this business. back ground. I worked for MTV, I worked for these companies and a business executive. And then I start my own company in 1993. And I, I run it until 2000 when I sell it. And then in 2000, I kind of go off to study to graduate school to study theology. And in 2004, why I’ve always been coaching these college students, I talked about this in my book wouldn’t business secrets to Travis, but I was telling one of my college students calls up, writes me an email, actually. And he says, you know, you ought to write an essay for this contest. And another good British subject who I think was an ex American who became a British subject, sir john templeton, sir john templeton has has this contest running and he says 3500 words or less? What is the life worth living? write an essay for me. And it’s open to previously published material. It’s open to professional writers. And if you win, you win $100,000 or the grand prize. So I checked this out, and I’d never written anything in my life. And I only had this thing going on for 18 months. And I only had two weeks or something like a week or so to the deadline by the time I even heard about it. So I sit down and I try to you know, write an essay about what is the life worth living and 3500 words or less, I’m not getting very far. And another one of my students says, asks me about it. I tell him about how I’m struggling. And he says, Why don’t you just write that story about brother john, that you like to tell so much. And I thought, Wow, that’s a great idea. So I just write this story about this monk, who I’d met seven or eight years earlier at this monastery in South Carolina called napkin. And I finish it up and just barely get it in by the deadline, and I forget about it. And six months later, I get a call. And I’m told I won the grand prize. And I want $100,000 for this essay, and, and this is my the beginning of my quote, unquote, writing career. But with the reason I’m telling this story is though, is because about six months after I win this award, my brother I have, I have six younger brothers, my youngest brother is an attorney. He’s in business with another one of my brothers. And he tells me that his name is Chris. And he tells me that he was talking to one of his colleagues, and he told his colleague that I had won this award is $100,000. And he said, the other colleague said to my brother, Chris, he says, You mean to tell me that your brother never read anything else in his life? He said, start Oh, basically over a weekend and bangs out an essay? submits it, it goes up against professional writers, he wins himself. 100 grand. And my brother Chris basically said, yeah, that’s what happened. And he said, Boy, is your brother Lucky. And my brother Chris replied, You don’t understand. My brother. Augie has been working on that essay for 35 years. Yeah. He went. And to me, that was the greatest compliment I’ve ever gotten in my life, because he was absolutely right. I have been working for 30 years to be I’m, you know, working to 30 years to become an overnight success.
David Ralph [26:07]
had had you realize that you’d been working for 30 years? Or did he statement actually make you think? Yes. And you kind of mentally joined up your own dots at that moment?
August Turak [26:19]
Absolutely. And you’re done, you’re coming to the most again, let’s go back to the point. The problem with life is you must live it forward, but only understand it backwards. It’s only when he said that to me how this was pertaining to my writing into this particular essay. But I said yes, you know, the the themes and the ideas that were and one of the themes and ideas that is in that essay, brother, john, is what you’ve already brought up. Because I said in the very beginning, I said we’d like to think that, that that the that I said that the purpose of life is what I called self transcendence, or becoming the best person you can possibly be. And I said, we rationalize the we don’t have what it takes, we rationalize that, that we are we’re too busy. But said I said Worst of all, we rationalize that people like brother john, who have achieved self transcendence are particularly are uniquely gifted are especially graced and, and this came right out of just what I said is that I have even noticed people saying that, you know, to me, and in the form of praise, they’re they’re basically saying Augie, you are specially gifted, especially grace. So no wonder you’ve done this or done that. And, and I come back many, many times to these people. And for their own good, I’m hopefully I’m doing a compassionately not not so to show that I’m smarter than I am. But I’m, but I come back. And I say no, no, no, no. Thank you so much for saying so. But, but no, there’s the only difference between me and anybody else is that I started putting that one foot in front of the other and like my Zen teacher, I never looked back. I kept moving forward, I kept taking those challenges. I kept picking up my, my Christmas carol hymnal and going out into the streets. And yes, even if it did work, a lot of times, like you were just intimating earlier in our talk David there were many dark nights of the soul along the way.
David Ralph [28:23]
So So have you there, obviously, you must have done because we all have those moments when we look at other people and go, they’re special. It’s because of x y Zed. So you can’t have always had that point of view that no, it’s only because I’ve been making that step after step after step, that that must come at a certain point in your life. And beforehand, you like all of us where we go, it’s never going to happen, I’ll just go down the pub instead is never going to happen. I’ll go and watch the football
August Turak [28:55]
apps, we all struggle with that. As a matter of fact, I just got a I have this woman who works with me on my August track calm effort, which all my writing and everything is under and, you know, in, in 2004, after I won that award, you know, everyone thought I had all kinds of agents calling me I had editors, publishers calling me and, and everybody was predicting that within a year or so that I was going to be this best selling author and everything Well, here we are 10 years later.
And I went through, I think I wrote three book drafts,
which are each I mean, book proposals, which are 150 pages long each, all which rejected I went through, I did eventually put a whole a draft of a book together, which was four or 500 pages long that was rejected. You know, but I just kept trying. And I stumbled into this opportunity where I became a writer for Forbes, I write on leadership forbes.com. And just things you know, just, you know, connecting up the dots, joining up the dots, as you would say, as as time went on, I just got this an email from my, this woman who works with me and she just said, you know, gave me a bunch of good news about a lot of great things that are happening for us. And she gave me a list of them. And she said, she said it is so wonderful. She said it’s all finally coming together and finally taking off and finally beginning to hockey stick and and this is a whole new career for me that I started in 2004. I mean, I’d never written anything but a business memo in my life. And and yes, it’s taken 10 years of a gut wrenching hard work to become a quote unquote, overnight success. I mean, so this is incredibly important information that you’re putting out there David Yes. And I think that, but I also going to I’m also going to flip over on you now and say that one of the reasons I wrote my book, and one of the last things I say in the preface in my book is that Trappist monks don’t just make success happen. They also know how to let success happen. And this is must might be just the most profound secret that they have to share with with you. I say that in the preface, and I said you can call it grace if you’re so inclined. In other words, if you’re religious, or you can call it luck if you’re not. But there’s something about the Trappist way of life that attracts success, whether you are a monk or not.
David Ralph [31:40]
It’s right down, I went, I was reading, I’m reading reading your book, that was one of the things that really jumped out on me and to be on. That could have been a chapter on its own, just that that one line. Because it might mean
August Turak [31:54]
I could write it could be. It could be a book that I like, I talked about it, I come back to it in the not last chapter. And I said, Look at my whole life. Everything in my life is I join up dots in the last chapter of the books. And I said, You know, I didn’t plan to go into cable TV. I mean, I just I was just talked to another quick story. I looked up my old golf pro from years back in the 1980s. I took golf lessons from this guy who was much younger than me and, and I’ve lost track with him over the year, every once in a while I look them up and I call him up and I just got ahold of him again, after not talking to him for about 10 years. And I told him about my writing career, what I was doing, and he said Donaghy said, you know, he said it’s amazing, you know, he says you’re such a visionary. And I said what do you mean, I’m a visionary? He says, Well, you know, you were right there with Lewis Armada, who founded the IBM executive school. And just right after he retired, you were right there. And you had the vision to become his protege. I said, and then you went from there to you saw the cable TV was the thing to be and you jumped into MTV 1981 at the time, MTV was just starting. And then you jumped into software about seven or eight years later when that was the hot thing to do and, and on and on. And on. He rattles off my my my resume. And I ended up laughing at and I said cat His name is Ben. Ben, I said that’s hilarious that you would say that. I said none of those things were visionary. They were all accidents. They were all people and incidents that I bumped into. It was all being and being in the right place at the right time. If he I could have said it was all grace. And I had no inside information about cable TV. I had no inside information about software. I didn’t jump into starting my own business in 1993. When I did because I could I envision that the 1990s were going to turn out to be the GO GO era era for software that internet that it turned out to be you know, I didn’t you know jump into writing and blogging and, and doing the stuff I’m doing with force because I saw all this stuff that’s going on in the internet now taking off for writers like me how he was all these happy accidents. Because I was on this path. Just real quickly. For example, everybody Marvel’s that I that I was on. It was only in my 20s and I became the protege of Lewis our mob Lee, founder the IBM executive school. And I actually moved into his house and became his protege he tutor me one on one. He ran the IBM for executive school from 1956 to 66. Well, how did I how did this all come about? Well, I was actually laying carpet for a living, traveling around the country great. tried to find interesting people that can help me to understand what’s it all about Alfie. And I was thinking,
David Ralph [34:54]
you know, you want to? What’s
August Turak [34:56]
it? What’s it all about?
So, we were talking before for the benefit of your listeners, we were talking about what a big Michael Caine fan I am. So anyway, I used to go to bookstores. And I would ask the owner of the bookstore, I’d say who are the coolest people in town, who are the people you might be able to introduce me to, they might be able to teach me something about life. And I was in a bookstore in Washington, DC, and the owner of that bookstore handed me a telephone number, and a man’s name Louis Armand, but he said call this guy he’s really, really cool. So I ended up calling cold calling him and he said, Come on out. And he I went out to his house, and I ended up spending about 12 hours talking to this man and only in the only in the gist of talking to them that I find out that he was the founder of the IBM executive school. And what attracted me to him at the time was that he was a very spiritual man. And he saw everything that he was doing at the IBM executive school. And since and the reason why he retired from IBM from IBM at 55 was the he saw all the business benefits as by products of his spiritual life. And so I didn’t go to him for business advice. I didn’t go to him to help me become successful in business. So I called him up about I was so fascinated by the man that I called him back about three or four months later, and I said, I have a proposition for you. I said, I know you have a little consulting firm you started since you retired, mostly to keep out of your wife’s hair. I said, I will find you clients for that consulting firm and I will do it for free. I said all I want in return is for you to teach me everything you know about life. And he said to me, I’ll go you one better. He said you moved on here you can move into the house here into the guest house he had his big house on biggest state outside of Washington DC. So do you move into our guest quarters? He said I will meet with you in my study every day a tutor you one on one and in the afternoon, you can go out and find this quiet. He said you can eat dinner with our with the family the breakfast and everything with the family said and and I insist on one thing and I said what is that he said I insist on paying you. This turned out to be the most amazing, amazing experience, you know, living with him and his family and, and just absorbing everything he had learned over a 30 year career at IBM and all the stuff. But I look back and I say okay, you know, part of it was was what you said getting off my butt, right? It was being willing to make make the telephone call and ask for the appointment and drive out to his house cold not knowing anything about the man except that a guy in a bookstore said I should meet him. But there was also another thing I think and that and to me, it’s first of all my my purity of purpose. Why was I looking for this man, I wasn’t looking for him. Because I wanted get rich quick. I was looking for him for a higher purpose for a deeper meaning in life. And then secondly, I look back and I wonder it and you know at that young age, I had enough purity of purpose to offer to work for that man for free. I didn’t have any money at the time. I wasn’t I wasn’t a rich man. I had no independent source of income or anything like that. As I said I was installing carpet for a living at the time was a blue collar man. I was like Alfie and but rather than seducing women is Alfie was into I’m, you know, I’m trying to learn something about life. And I offered to work. So this is the selflessness. This was a sense of selflessness. And I think as a result, these things all combined into a kind of a grace that I talked about, that ends up being this really lucky break. Because I I don’t think
David Ralph [38:53]
so you gotta carry on.
August Turak [38:57]
But I was just gonna say that I think that this is what a true lu lu mommy to me to make such an offer to me. I saw many people make the trek out there was a he got he had starts. He had the reputation and his reputation grew as I spent a couple years working with him as kind of the man on the mountain and people would make the trek out to see him and stuff. But this special offer that I he made me to live in his house. And you know, and he had four or five children. He was looking for another son necessarily or anything but but there was a magic to that. And I see this when I look back over my life, I see this this magic taking place. For example, I won that hundred thousand dollar Book Award. But why I had been donating my time coaching college students for 1517 years at that point. And it was two of these. And I never thought to myself, well if I coach these kids one of these days, they’re going to help me they’re going to come back and didn’t do something for me. No, I wasn’t thinking of it that way. I never expected it. But it was one of my students who came back and told me about the contest about search on Templeton’s contest. And it was another one of my students who accidentally told me, you know, when I was stumped, he was the one. His name is George Bueller. He was the one that said all you wanted to write about brother john. And his in his, his throwaway comment is lucky accident comment is what not only won that award for me, but set me off on thinking more deeply about my relationship with these monks that I’d started to develop. That’s the final thing. I mean, I didn’t go down to napkin Abbey in 1996. With this idea that, boy, I bet, you know, I’m going to get to come down here, and I’m going to study these guys, and I’m going to find out about their business secrets. And then I’m going to figure out a way without letting them know that I’m going to run that I’m up to this, I’m going to do my research or write a book become famous. Um,
David Ralph [40:57]
I have a you’re deliberately spoken about your book, because I want to ask the question. And the question is, you’ve had such a career, you’ve done so many things. But now whenever I google your name, monks come up. Does that kind of annoy you that you are so well known for that one thing when you’ve got such a breadth of career?
August Turak [41:22]
Well, I think that if anybody reads, you know, I don’t know not at all, because I think that if anybody reads the book and read some of the writings, although I think I’m also very well known for writing for Forbes on leadership, which is not directly associated with the monks. But I think that they’ll see that there’s that there’s there is a broad but but let me, let me say something else. What What do I care about? I don’t care whether people give me enough more credit or that I’m lionized for being one of the founders of founding employees of IB of MTV are you I am whole life is dedicated to helping other people at this point in my life, so my Zen teacher way back when I was 20 years old, you know, I and many other people, he never charged any money for his work and didn’t ask for anything. And he was and he was just a very generous man with his time and energy. And so a lot of us were raised well enough that we would occasionally say, Well, how can we pay you back.
And he would say,
there’s only one way to pay me back. He said, If anything that I have done for you has helped you in any way, then pass it on to someone else. pass it on to someone else. That’s the way you pay repay the den of spiritual have a spiritual life, all my life is dedicated to is paying, paying it back through passing it on. If If my association with the monks is helping me to get my message across that service, and selflessness is the is the most important thing that you can focus your life on. And and to do that means being tremendously associated with the monks of napkin or monks period. I don’t really care. I mean, if I could do this anonymously, the best way if the best way was to be anonymous, I would do it. I have been rewarded and blessed. Far beyond my wildest dreams in my life David far beyond my wildest. Well,
David Ralph [43:26]
I totally believe, I totally believe in what you’re saying that you have.
August Turak [43:30]
But I’m not looking for more,
David Ralph [43:32]
I’m thinking for, for both for the listeners listening in, I think a lot of them will probably confuse spirituality with say, religion, just for example. And I think a lot of them will be looking for success in their life, you know, as a benchmark for achieving. And most of them, the avatar for the show, is the kind of generation that are maybe in their second job, they’re in this or 20, he’s to 30s. And they’re that they’re lost by know about what they’ve studied at college is now not the thing that they want to be doing in their life. And they know that the salary that they’re getting in, although it might give them a good Friday and a good Saturday night down the pub all the bars isn’t a fulfilling boom, but they haven’t found bad place to go. So do you think by being selfless, as you were saying, Would that lead to success? Or do you need to spirituality as well in there?
August Turak [44:32]
Well, I think they’re all the same.
My my definition of spirituality is the transformational journey from selfishness to selflessness. And I started my book I talk about Joseph Campbell, and the hero’s journey. And Joseph Campbell went on all over the world and studied all the world’s myths and religions and philosophies and theologies. He wrote this book, it’s this seminal work. It’s called the hero with 1000 faces. And he’s the thing that he found repeated again and again, is this hero’s journey. And the hero goes through this journey. And the first stage of the journey is there’s a call what you’re talking about all these people that are gonna be listening to your show, who are going down to the pub, I was one of those people You said you wanted to mention my Mick Jagger’s. Yeah, you know, I was one of those, those, those people. And I had a lot of friends and I was not doing too badly with the girls and, and I had fun on Saturday nights. And but I was, there was something profoundly missing in my life. This is when I was in college. And to me, this is what in the first stage of the hero’s journey was called the vocation. This is the call. A lot of people go to the bar, and they, they do that for the rest of their lives because they don’t feel something’s missing. But for those people, you know, you talk about the movie, The Matrix. He says, Let me the Morpheus says to Neo, he says, Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something, what you know, you don’t quite understand. But it’s been there all of your life. There’s something wrong with the world what it is you can’t put your finger on. But it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, slowly driving you mad. Joseph Campbell would call that the vocation, you’re called, you’re called to something, something more, something bigger. The second stage of the hero’s journey is the resistance to the call. And all these movies that are done by Spielberg, and all these people are done based on this hero’s journey. And so the second stage is resistance. And this is when, you know, Clint Eastwood has been called to, they come out in a truck to his farm, and they want him to come back into the Air Force. For one last mission, right? Something has come up the only Clint Eastwood character can do. And he’s been out of the, you know, Air Force or, you know, and, of course, Michael Caine plays a lot of these roles, too. And what is the what is the reaction and I was ready to get out of here, leave me alone, I’ll never come back. They were the last man on earth, I wouldn’t come back to that damn Air Force where the United or whatever it is. And that’s resistance to the call. But of course, the Euro always changes his mind and decides to accept the challenge to accept the the mission. And so the next stage of the hero’s journey is the desert. And so that, then he has to go into training. And you know, and within in Star Wars, you know, Yoda is standing over Luke Skywalker screaming at him, don’t try.
Like you said, you know, it’s not enough to you know, we have to we don’t you know, and so the, so whoever it is, it could be a drill sergeant, it could be somebody, there’s always some Yoda. There’s some Morpheus. You know, what’s the first thing that Morpheus does the Neo, he takes them into that room and kicks the living, you know what I am? So there’s always some teacher that’s that standing over the hero, you know, kicking his butt and telling them, you know, and this is the desert stage, this is Jesus going out into the desert for 40 days, or, or this is the this is the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years, you know, being trained, being tested being schooled. And so the next stage of the hero’s journey is the great trial. Because the hero emerges, like Neo from his training, he’s got all this power, but he’s going to be tempted like, like Darth Vader, he’s going to be tempted to use this for the wrong reasons for selfish reasons. Rather than selfless reasons. Or as in the case of the matrix, what happens is that he, Neo finds out that that on his own no matter how powerful he’s become on his own, he can’t defeat Agent Smith on his own so he actually dies. And but he’s, he’s connected by a phone line back to the real world, which the real world with a capital R, to end my is a metaphor, in my opinion to heaven, to this woman who happens to be named of all things trinity of the religious, the ramification is, the application is there, and she represents love incarnate with a capital L. And so she’s connected by a phone line to him and the illusory desert, or the illusory world. And, and through his or her love, he dies and he dies, gives up on himself gives up on his selfish powers and surrenders to something bigger than himself love in this case. And now he can come back and beat Agent Smith. So this is the next stage of the hero’s journey, which is the death and rebirth you get the grand trial, where in the case of the Star Wars stuff, the Darth Vader succumbs he goes to the dark side. He wants to be selfish, not selfless. In the case of Neo he dies and is reborn as this completely selfless person. And then the final stage of the hero’s journey is the hero then returns to help others. He comes back as a teacher now now he’s the Morpheus now, he’s the Yoda or he’s the Obi Wan Kenobi who comes back to help other people. This is when Joseph Campbell studied everything, he found out that all these myths are revolve basically around this thing. And if you adopt this lens, you will see that that nine out of 10 movies are based on the you know, the Truman Show and, and Groundhog Day and the Devil Wears Prada I could I could go on and on these movies are all based on the fundamental idea of storytelling, which is the hero’s journey. And when you look at it even more closely, what is the hero accomplishing over all these stages as he goes from vocation to, to resistance to his vocation to the desert to the great trial to the death and rebirth to the return, he is being transformed from a selfish person to a selfless person?
David Ralph [50:46]
That’s all that’s happening. I think there’s more to it than that. But I think the the key to that, and this goes to anyone listening to this is that person started, they started doing something, they had to go through those stages, but they wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t started in the first place.
August Turak [51:07]
There’s no question about it. And that is the vocational stage. You know, I’m sure Carl young, the great psychologist said, he said that there was nothing more tragic and life that a person who is called who doesn’t listen to that call, and who doesn’t any. And I actually at one point in time, I have brother Joseph in my book says, We’re all called to something higher than ourselves. We’re all called to something bigger than ourselves. Those who say they’re not just never learned to listen. So to me, it is a it is a question of, of, of listening to your book. So that to me, the the the number one, the World Health Organization said the number one problem in western civilization today is depression. That’s the number one disease afflicting the western civilization today. And, and people are we’re going through all kinds of chronic depression. And a lot of this almost so much of this to me is is is the is caused by selfishness by finding out that, that you know, sex drugs and rock and roll works for a while, but it but eventually it leaves you empty. And, and so to me, what we’re what we what we think of as, as depression or negative is oftentimes, again, as I said, in my book, I said it’s just a, our frustrations with life may very well just be a higher power calling to us by frustrating our lower it’s our higher self colleagues was by frustrating the instincts of our lower self. So when you’re when when the pub’s not working for you anymore, that can either you can either look at that as being a bad thing. being jealous of the people who the who the when the pub still working for them ready to move on, or you can say, wait a sec, this is time, it’s time for me to move on to something bigger. And, and this is why I come back again and again to the theme in my book, which is aim past the target. This, the greatest success you can accomplish in life is to become selfless. And when you become the more selfless you become the it’s in your own self interest to forget yourself interest, the more you aim past your own selfish success. And I said this is not strange in business. Every great salesman knows that the more he forgets about himself. And by the way, I came up through sales, and I ended up on the cover of selling magazines. So I think I have a little bit of credence to say this, every great salesman knows that the more he forgets himself. And his himself is his products, his commissions and his quota and instead focuses on selflessly serving his customers needs, the commission take care of themselves. They become the byproduct, every corporation that forgets about its bottom line, and instead focuses on delighting its customers, the bottom line takes care of itself. And every great leader knows that the more he focuses on making other people successful, the quicker he gets promoted. So if you want to get promoted quickly, don’t worry about getting yourself promoted, get somebody else promoted. And that’s how you’ll get promoted. And this is a this is a bigger picture. This is an aiming past the target of your own promotion. You know, if you’re if you’re fixated on getting yourself promoted, if you’re fixated on, on, on getting your own sales commission check if you’re fixated on on your bottom line of your business, you know, you’re probably not going to be successful. It’s when you aim past that target when you aim in. In basketball, we’re told to aim for the back of the rim. In golf, they say aim for the back of the company and archery they say aim past the target. So you aim past the target of your of, of what you think of a success at something much bigger than that, which I say should be selfless service. And guess what, you know, then the success takes care of itself. You know, for religion, I say my book again, because I don’t write my book for religious necessarily for religious people, I said, you can take it either way. I said, you can take what I’m about to say literally, if you’re a religious person, or you can take it metaphorically if you’re not. But seek first the kingdom of heaven and everything else will take care of itself.
You know, seek first the kingdom of selflessness and everything else will fall into place for you. Remember, you know, it was my offer to Lou Bobby, I’ll work for free. I’ll help you in any way you can. Can. All I’m interested in is that you know, you teach me but I could be your humble student. You know, this is, you know, I’m not the kind of attitude people who come to see me, don’t come to me with that kind of attitude.
David Ralph [56:15]
You see that? Yeah.
August Turak [56:18]
It Oh, that and it’s all about what’s in it for me. And even people who try to and i and i don’t blame people because it’s hard. This is a transformational journey. We’re all going to start even if you buy in intellectually, to what I’m saying. We all start in a conundrum. Because the conundrum is is that our minds are so hard wired to be kind of selfish is that we think, okay, I just I just helped this little lady across the street. Now, when something great can happen for me, should I go buy a lottery ticket number two, when I just helped this old lady across the street, that, you know, the closer you become the the the closer you become to being the kind of person who doesn’t care about whether anything pays off for you, the more it will pay off for you. But I when you
David Ralph [57:08]
get to the I agree with that totally. When you
August Turak [57:12]
when you get to the point, you know, and I found this in my own journey and it and believe me, it isn’t something that is easy. It’s not even an intellectual decision that you can make, you have to work in the desert. hard at it. And I think I put that time in. But I think I can honestly say that in the last I don’t know how many years, I have become the kind of person who gets more joy out of seeing other people succeed than I do, I have my own success.
And the more I’ve become that kind of person, the more successful I’ve become.
And it’s it’s a it’s almost a weird paradox. The less I care about making money, the more money I make, the less I you know, I just said to somebody, a friend of mine was here yesterday, visiting me and I have beef here on I am on a farm. I have cattle here on the farm. And I actually leased the land to a veterinarian who raises the cattle for me, but he does about seven or eight cattle for me. And so I have, you know, I get I get pre beef, basically, I get I have to pay the butcher, but I end up with a freezer full of these. So I loaded my friend down with a whole with a whole bunch of grass fed fresh beef yesterday when he was here. And I told his name is Jay. He’s my former partner, my businesses Matter of fact, I said Jay said, you know what I never would have expected. I said, I thought when I started getting all this beef, I said that the real pleasure and joy would have been in eating steaks anytime I want to. I said it’s not it’s in giving the beef away. That’s what’s the most fun.
David Ralph [58:49]
And I think that’s an amazing, amazing statement is really bring it to the dino August. This is the first ever show that we’ve done. All the listeners, we’ll be sort of aware we do a thing called the Sermon on the mic when we play a little little tune. And we get you to speak with passion and enthusiasm and commitment directly to the masses. I’m not going to do that today. Because I think you have done that from minute one. And we’re all the way through two minute 58 I also generally will play Steve Jobs iconic speech that he did in 2005. I’m also not going to do that either. Because if anyone has demonstrated how you can connect the dots and you can join up your life. It’s yourself you’ve been an absolute delight on this show. So I really well thank you so much. I really want to thank you for being so generous, open and you know and of course talkative and I wish you all the best for every venture that you have in the future. And remember you know, the door’s always open to come back and return and tell us what you’re doing because
August Turak [59:53]
we’re you know we never we never told by Mick Jagger story so so you have to have me back because we’ve we’ve hung up the drums all your listeners because I know they’re all dying to hear my story about Mick Jagger and we never got a chance to tell
David Ralph [1:00:05]
we didn’t we didn’t cover Top Gear.
August Turak [1:00:07]
Now we didn’t tell what top Top Gear either now
David Ralph [1:00:09]
so is it so we’ve got a load of things. Please come back once again and don’t continue to join up dots because join up dots is the only way that we can build a future August Turak Thank you so much.