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Interview with Randel Carlock

The interview with Randel Carlock you can read about his passion for family businesses and how his three-pronged expertise of being a professor, therapist and CEO shapes his talks. The management professional captures his audiences and engages deeply with all kinds of attendees. Read more in his interview below.

How does your training as a family therapist factor into your consulting style?


Our personal experiences shape us. I have 20+ years experience as a CEO and Chair, a PhD and 20 years as a professor in entrepreneurship and leadership and certification in family therapy. These three experiences interact to help me have a very different view of human behaviour and organisations. If I am working on a project I think about three questions:

1)  As a professor : What is the plan?

2)  As a CEO:  Can we execute/deliver it?

3)  As a therapist: How do you feel? Being a therapist has changed my entire perspective on business and leadership.  Appreciating how powerful and flawed humans are makes your approach very different.


You especially focus on family businesses, what makes family businesses so interesting for you?


The twenty-first century is a new era of global opportunity – particularly for family businesses because family capitalism combines the best professional practices with an emotional commitment that can’t be matched by widely traded firms. We feel this family enterprise model provides a new approach for the entire business community. Over 80% of the global economy is controlled by family firms so the world’s future prosperity depends on the family firms performing well.

Family business is the most challenging topic in a business school. It is a derived discipline, meaning it takes theory and practices from management, psychology, economics, therapy law, and leadership.  It is also the most fundamental to us as humans: Freud said that the basis for a satisfying human life  is “work and love”.  Family business is about the overlap of these two powerful human experiences.


In one of your management classes, you meditated with students before starting the lecture. How do you believe that meditation can improve management?


I use meditation and unguided imagery in my more senior classes like the EMBA and Masters in Psychology because the students are older and face more life demands. Meditation calms the mind, provides a more balanced and objective view of the world,  improves attention to others, and improves self-awareness. These are fundamental skills to leadership in the 21st century.  Leaders need new tools to deal with the complex and demanding world they face.  There is an old expression “High Tech/High Touch” meaning humans need balance.  Meditation is a new practice of an old art.  Almost every religion has a tradition of silent reflection. The religious have been meditating for centuries.   See my class on meditation here!


How does humor factor into your keynote engagements?


I think learning should be fun and I am a “wise” guy by nature so I carefully use humour to make my points.  I often use film clips, cartoons or TV ads because then the humour is carefully structured to support the learning experience.


Do you have a favourite experience from your speaking career?


Two groups.


BUSINESS: There is an old joke about three kinds of people and success. First there are successful people, second, people who want to be successful and third,  there are teachers and consultants who help the second group become successful.  I spend most of my time with successful business people who take our executive and leadership courses at INSEAD.  I also spend most of my teaching with our MBAs and EMBAs helping them learn how to be successful.  The second group is the most challenging audience they are bright, motivated and critical thinkers.  They would be my favourite audience. At INSEAD our students and participants come from 98 countries; we are the most global business school in the world.  We are also the number one ranked school as of last Monday!


FAMILY  BUSINESS:  They are the most motivated and challenged audience in the world.  They are passionate about their family, business and careers but they face huge professional and emotional challenges to make it all work. Many times when I work with business families, there are tears around the room.

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