The Buddhist CEO

The Buddhist CEO

Thane Lawrie

My first novel The Buddhist CEO will be published on the 13th December by Koehler Books. This article gives insight into what to expect from this book and the motivation behind it.

My name is Thane Lawrie and I live in Scotland with my wife and two adult children. I have been a practicing Buddhist for almost twenty-five years. Until 2021, I was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a large not-for-profit organization. I enjoyed being a CEO and was successful at it. My company was listed in the prestigious Sunday Times list of the Top 100 Companies to Work for in the UK in six of my seven years in charge. We also won a host of local business awards for recognition of the world class culture we strived to create for our staff.

Although I really liked the job it came with a high degree of stress. During my CEO years I became close to other CEOs and senior staff. I admired them all and often felt energised from being in their presence. What I admired was their dynamism, ideas and passion to make a difference to their company and wider society. All the senior staff I met really wanted to do a good job. Few of them, if any, were driven solely by money. They all had a strong moral compass.

But despite the many positives I admired in them all. I often got a strong sense that stress took its toll on them, including me. I sometimes struggled as a Buddhist with some of the difficult decisions I had to make. I would ask myself could I have been more compassionate in my decision making. This moral dilemma, was an observation I made in many of the leaders I met. How did they balance their own religious or moral viewpoint with some of their decisions? Ultimately the stress took its toll and I ended up being diagnosed with a neurological condition likely caused by stress. Forcing me to medically retire at the age of 49.

Despite retiring and concentrating on improving my health I wanted to still contribute to the world and do something positive. This is where the idea for my novel The Buddhist CEO was born. My first thought was should I write a memoir telling the tale of my own Leadership and Buddhist journey? Quite quickly I decided it was unfair to write about my own company and talk about real events. So I decided to write a fictional novel that draws heavily on my observations of leadership and Buddhism. So what is this book all about?

My main character is called Hamish and he has been a practising Buddhist for much of his adult life. He embraces Buddhism and Buddhist practice, and it has a deeply positive impact on his life. He meditates daily, practices mindfulness and goes on retreat regularly at a monastery, where he develops friendships with many of the Buddhist monks living there. As he incorporates Buddhism into his life, he feels more peaceful, compassionate, considered and he approaches his work life with diligence and right effort.

As his career progresses and with his Buddhist approach he finds that doors open for him and he is promoted quickly. Until eventually he is offered the opportunity to become a CEO. He resolves to lead like a Buddhist CEO, believing this will benefit his company greatly. In the first three years he transforms the once struggling company, turning it into a great success.

But three years into his journey senior staff plot against him, make secret recordings and even take him to court. For the first time on his leadership journey he is unsure of what to do. How should a Buddhist CEO deal with these difficulties? The novel follows his inner journey and dialogue, as he tries to resolve the difficult role of being a modern-day CEO with his deep desire to follow the ancient tradition of Zen Buddhism.

The book will be published on the 13th December but can be pre-ordered on Amazon globally and is available at other online book sellers as well.

The book has received endorsement from leading authors far and wide and from Buddhist monks. Below is a small taste of the endorsements the book has received.

“There are two worlds colliding in this wonderful novel, when the zen meditator and corporate chief executive officer in Buddhist CEO weaves a visual tapestry of the path toward enlightenment in the world of business. The fragrance of the incense in the silence of the zendo is as expressively depicted as the corporate tribunal where both sides of employer vs employee struggle to debate their positions. The author expresses a passion for his spiritual practice in every sentence, drawing the reader toward a discerning look at their own personal choices as they integrate compassion and mindfulness into their daily lifestyle.

Buddhist CEO is an evocative first novel as it takes us on a narrative journey and explores the potential for synergism between the worlds of personal business from the perspective of a mindful zen practitioner. 5 out of 5 stars are well deserved.”

Nora D’Ecclesis, Best Selling American Author of Zen Rohatsu, Multicultural Mindfulness and Spiritual Portals.

Thane Lawrie’s debut novel is tightly drawn, sometimes amusing, always profound, evocative and universally reflective. Balancing the tensions between the demands of a highly pressured profession and the constant quest for spiritual enlightenment and peace, Lawrie paints a vivid portrait of the inner workings of a modern man striving to honor the gentility of his beliefs while confronting the challenges and frustrations of leadership. A splendid and thoughtful revelation, Lawrie’s work quietly opens the door on the questions we all carry in our deepest core. This is a book to be read slowly, savored and absorbed.

Greg Fields, Author
Through the Waters and the Wild

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