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The trappings of success

KEITH APPLETON

Published: Oct 16, 2013

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Those discerning readers who religiously follow my Guardian column will know that I‘ve reviewed business books inspired by a diverse range of people including self-made millionaires, academics, economists, military leaders, politicians, TV presenters, sports stars and even terrorists, but never by Trappist monks - until now.

‘Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks’ outlines how such an unlikely group have built a successful business, with only four hours of management oversight a week.  The author, August Turak, is a successful entrepreneur who sold two software companies for $150 million, and attributes his success to working alongside the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey in the U.S. for seventeen years.  These monastic entrepreneurs have developed an incredibly successful portfolio of businesses including 3,200 acres of land, a gift shop, library, conference center, with business interests in timber, fertilizer, mushrooms and eggs.  Surely a literal case of not keeping all your eggs in one basket!

August was impressed by their business-like approach with everything geared towards profitability and efficiency; two key lessons for any Bahamian business.  Service and selflessness are at the heart of the 1,500-year-old monastic success and this ancient economic model is demonstrated using instructive case studies on how these ideas can be applied to any Caribbean business.  The author shows how Trappist principles are successful, not despite the monks’ high principles, but because of them, and key lessons include:

• Always honor your promises as customers will use these to gauge your reliability.

• Success correlates with your willpower and self-control which are virtues that are essential to any management discipline.

• Never under-commit and over-deliver.  Only make promises that you know you will be able to keep or risk losing respect and credibility.

• Protect your personal image and always ask yourself, ‘how will this decision affect my personal brand’?  In the long run, your reputation is your most valuable asset.

For those of you praying for a more ethical approach to management, this book provides an intriguing alternative, with the ethos being that good business is based on no ‘monk’-eying around and avoiding bad ‘habits’ – sorry about the pun.

So what next?  Well, continue to follow The Nassau Guardian business section and you might even see a book review on supply and demand by Santa Claus!

• ‘Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticity’ by August Turk, and published by Columbia University Press.

 Keith Appleton JP, BA (Hons), N.Dip.M, MInstLM has extensive experience within an academic, managerial and strategic leadership role.  He is a member of the UK Institute of Leadership & Management and can be contacted at KeithAppleton@Hotmail.co.uk or follow him at twitter.com/WritingRightNow.


Last Updated on Thursday, 17 October 2013 18:22
 

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