The CEO Monk’s Guide to Shaolin Kungfu

CEO monk guide to Shaolin Kung fu-by Shi Yongxin, the CEO monk

Well, it’s official; the Shaolin Temple is officially corporate. I was hoping this could be an all-hands meeting, but we’re time poor today, so I’ll have to go offline with the hermits who couldn’t be here. There’s a major disconnect that we all have to action if we’re going to go forward. Our core competency is no longer spiritual devotion. We deliver integrated kung fu solutions.

You guys can’t even concept how much low hanging fruit we’ve missed over the last 1500 years with the old Zen Buddhist charity model. It’s time to leverage our trainage and spiritualization into incremental revenue contexts. I’ve been visioning new segments with marketing in a pre-meeting, and we’re way out of the box. We’ve pinged D&G about co-branding on our signature orange tunics, and I’ve just had some ear-to-ear time with Wu Tang Clan about synergizing on a world tour. We’re waiting for buy-in from legal on a new Mortal Kombat game and Dragon Ball Z series, too.

Our old read-only values of education and philanthropy are a major time suck. So let me shift your paradigm into fourth gear with a brand new mission statement: Wow service to provide a Showtime experience for all Shaolin stakeholders. We’re going to segment our schools from Cannon Fist to Dragon Technique, and create a future-proof long tail.

But first, we all need to be on the same page with our corporate history, so you’re going to have to ramp up on our new war story, otherwise you’ll be putting rocks on the runway.

540 CE

Key enabler Bodhidharma travels from India to the Shaolin Temple in Henan to find the monks locked in an unprofitable niche: translating Buddhist texts from Sanskrit to Chinese. He offers to add to their core competencies with yoga-based exercises, but temple corporate won’t give him any face time. Bodhidharma opts for a nine-year leave of absence in a nearby cave, and stares a hole into sheer rock. Monks who witness the hole ping corporate, and Bodhi becomes a team player, re-branded as Da Mo.


Disciple Hui Ke accesses two deliverables Da Mo had hidden in an iron chest – The Marrow Cleansing Classic and The Muscle Changing Classic. The Shaolin priests gradually repurpose their yoga and animal-based trainage so that it is more result-driven. Best practices now include breakage, sufferage, and all-around damage.


Tang Emperor Tai Cung liaises with thirteen Shaolin monks for help in quashing a rebellion actioned by Wang Shi Cheng. The monks leverage bleeding edge techniques to own the project and establish themselves as best of breed. A new metric equates one Shaolin monk to one thousand MBA (Mediocre But Arrogant) soldiers.


Emperor Tai Tsu becomes a key demand driver, segmenting Shaolin styles and synergizing the master-student dynamic in a top-down process. He gets boots on the ground by incenting officials to learn kung fu if they want to fast track to corporate.

1271 – 1398

China’s running with scissors for almost a century, after the Mongols reposition themselves as the Yuan Dynasty. Anyone not wing-to-wing with their new marketing platform gets a maximum downgrade. This doesn’t prevent Shaolin monks from going forward in helping rebels action their anti-Mongol agenda. They even facilitate the rebels with fighting techniques and other next steps.


The golden age of the Ming Dynasty is likewise the peak cycle of Shaolin. Shaolin intellectual property is socialized across major Chinese markets with almost frictionless distribution. Kung fu solutions are integrated with philosophical, medicinal and artistic solutions for a value-added package that boosts metrics into the stratosphere. Monks also innovate B2E (Business to Emperor) deliverables that are upsold as mission critical protection services.

1723 – 1736

Qing Emperor Yongzhen throws the Shaolin monks under the bus, ordering the destruction of their temple. Qing troops take a granular approach to the action item, and commit to making all monks black swans. The Shaolin dog and pony show is downsized to a goat rodeo.


A soft launch of revived Shaolin tradition comes to a hard stop at the Boxer Rebellion. Although the temple’s brand promise has convinced thousands of boxers that they’re best of breed, efforts to touch base with the foreigners reveal major strategic gaps in their skill sets. Stakeholders are forced to admit they lack the bandwidth to deal with western firepower.

1949 – 1970

Further to China’s restructuring, the temple is left out of the loop and goes into yet another extended incubation period. During the Cultural Reassessment, risk averse cadres own the project of eliminating what’s left of Shaolin’s competitive differentiators, and reduce the temple to a train wreck.

1972 & 1977

Popular TV show Kung Fu and the Shaw Brothers’ cult classic Shaolin Templeping a global market segment. Shaolin’s last living assets ramp up their soft skills to refocus on the customer and drive student enrollment, regardless of compliance shortfalls. The temple once again has an open door policy.


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