2013 California Meeting
Executive Committee
Ablin Lecture
Cloward Award
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2006: August Turak, MD
August Turak
August Turak
Most people wait their whole lives to meet a man like Augie Turak. He’s one of those one-in-a-million type of people that most of us only get to read about. At age nineteen, he found himself in a dilemma: he was in a good college, he was a bright and successful student, he had a promising future—and he was unsatisfied. He couldn’t locate a meaning to life, a higher purpose. Of course, almost everyone “goes through a phase” like this around late adolescence, but most people never do anything about it. Lucky for the SKS, Augie Turak is not most people.

In 1973, Turak met a man who would change his life forever. His name was Richard Rose, and to the untrained eye, he was just a simple, West Virginia farmer. But Rose was much more. A voracious spiritual seeker since childhood, Rose had dedicated his life to finding God. He traveled the nation, looking for individuals, spiritual groups, and books that might have answers. At twenty-eight, in the late 1940s, he had an Enlightenment experience while meditating. He first impulse was to share his new knowledge with others, but in the conservative atmosphere of the era, he knew he would be taken for a madman, so he stayed quiet. When the spiritual movements of the 1960s and 1970s began, Rose saw that he finally had an opportunity to teach.

August Turak was one of his first—and best—students. For five years, Turak studied under Richard Rose. Did he realize at the time that his life would never be the same?

The determined, “take no prisoners” attitude Rose held towards spiritual seeking rubbed off on Turak, and it’s the same attitude that has made him so successful in other arenas of his life. In 1978 Turak moved to Washington, DC, to work as the protégé of recently retired IBM Executive School Founder & Director, Lou Mobley (also author of the best-selling book, Beyond IBM). Turak moved into Mobley’s home, lived with his family, and spent every morning studying management and leadership, and every afternoon helping Mobley build his consulting business.

In 1981, Turak began working with a small, little known cable television programming venture known as MTV: Music Television. After helping MTV become Fortune Magazine’s breakthrough product of the year in 1981, Turak became the National Director of Marketing for what was to become The Arts & Entertainment Network. Shortly thereafter, he took a position as Vice President of Marketing with Adelphia Communications, one of the largest cable television system operators in the U.S. Already seeing the ethical problems that would eventually lead to Adelphia’s demise, Turak left Adelphia after only a year.

From 1985 to 1993, Turak worked in executive and consultant capacities at a number of cable and software companies, including Data Broadcasting Corporation (a subsidiary of Financial News), UPI, Bell Atlantic, Federal News Service, and Applied Control Systems. But all this time, he wanted to begin a group of seekers like those he had known while working with Rose. Spirituality had always been his primary passion—he defines himself as a spiritual man who happens to be good at business, rather than a businessman who happens to have an interest in the spiritual.

In 1985, Turak moved to Raleigh, NC, and in 1989, several students at North Carolina State University approached him after a lecture and asked him to teach on a regular basis. Thus the first chapter of the Self Knowledge Symposium was born, which has since expanded to the University of North Carolina and Duke University, as well as recently gaining federal non-profit foundation status.

In 1993, Turak founded Raleigh Group International, a software company that he ran until he and his partners sold the company to Mutek Solutions, Inc. in 2000. Turak stayed on as a President of Mutek until his retirement from the business world in 2002. But Turak’s true love is the time he spends teaching university students involved in the Self Knowledge Symposium (SKS).