Families Summit of Minds

Detailed Program


What are the current forces behind capitalism? Is more wealth or more meaning our goal? Take a deep dive on why purpose matters deeply for professionals seeking growth and for (Family) businesses seeking a competitive edge.

Find out:

  • Why purpose is less about profit and more about benefits to customers
  • Why more purpose is essential to how companies should be governed

“There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer,” the late Peter Drucker famously said. Other luminaries believe many companies do not know their purpose. Some insist that identifying purpose is critical in the search to address the unthinkable: failure. Arguably, purpose is not about profit. Purpose is about how to create business benefits to us as customers and communities. Profit emerges from that process, yet profits are not the purpose of business – they are the incentives for those who put up the capital for the business to do so. Given the rise of ethically responsible companies, are purpose-driven mentalities merely fashionable or essential to how companies should be governed?



What are the new standards? How will the rising generation embrace them? Can they? Join responsible owners and explore lessons learned from Volkswagen’s “dieselgate,” the precedent set by Vale Dam disaster in Brazil or the Odebrecht corruption case and whether corporate social responsibility needs redefining.

Find out:

  • Whether Millennials are as conscious of their social, economic and carbon footprints as they claim
  • Whether they can avoid the same errors as their less well‑informed and “short‑sighted” predecessors

What went through the minds of the Porsche-Piech family, indirect majority owners of Volkswagen AG, when the German carmaker was caught cheating on emissions tests by the US Environmental Protection Agency? We may never know. What is known is that the lofty notion of corporate social responsibility, the self-regulating business model that helps companies be socially accountable to themselves and the public, took a hit in the wake of VW’s “dieselgate”. If the rising generation of Millennials are as conscious of their social, economic and carbon footprints as they claim, how will they avoid the errors of their short-sighted predecessors? Is CSR fake news, canny marketing or, ironically, due for an ethical rejig? 


The “healthy mind in a healthy body” theory is espoused by many. What are the hidden effects of stress on corporate captains? Engage with practitioners on the impact of isolation on leaders and why we should broaden our definition of success.

Find out:

  • Why putting work ahead of self-care spells disaster
  • How to keep fit and achieve more
  • Why good leaders foster good societies

The “healthy mind in a healthy body" theory is trumpeted by many, yet modern times usher in modern problems – and modern fretting. In G7 economies, the annual cost of stress to employers is estimated at tens of billions of dollars. Blame disruptive innovation? Studies have found that businesses receive up to a 200% return on every $1 invested in staff wellbeing – often in the form of enhanced productivity. So what effects will health – good or bad – and age have on corporate captains, will we start placing more emphasis on the fact that living in better health condition enables owners to make sounder decisions (i.e. Branson…) their enterprises and our world? What should be done?


Is business longevity under threat in our time-starved digital world of instant gratification and disruptive innovation? Explore generational questions and better understand why few family enterprises make it past three generations.

Find out:

  • Long-term plans versus short-term demands
  • Why life expectancies for family firms have fallen

Enterprising families are committed to their family’s longevity, not just the business. They have traditionally taken a long-term approach to affairs. But life’s accelerated pace (think rapid prototyping to speed dating) has since blown quaint traditions out of the water. The past generation alone delivered an onslaught of disruptive innovation that turned sectors upside down, and shunted aside established market-leading firms, products and alliances. Enterprising families must weigh the virtues of long-termism against the threats of short-termism. Yet time is a thief: Life expectancy for the largest family firms has decreased from 75 years to 15 years in just a single generation. At the current rate, in 25 years more than 75% of the S&P 500 will be replaced by new firms. Time is a tormentor too: Studies suggest that those who feel time-poor, and there are many, experience lower levels of happiness and higher levels of anxiety. It is high time for solutions. But what are they?


Join international families and experts to explore the impact of shifting trade agreements on our personal lives and the wider economy.

Find out:

  • Whether US-China trade friction is the new normal
  • How might an EU-US trade war affect trade in the Americas
  • How to rebuild trust among former Nafta treaty members

The new USMCA trade agreement (NAFTA 2.0) took 13 months of frequently-stalled and fraught negotiations to emerge. Now turmoil in Washington threatens to derail its final ratification. The probability of the US and China striking a trade deal this year has also dimmed. Both sides are far apart on US demands that China make deep structural changes to its economic policies and shrink the US goods trade deficit. The prospect of a new trade deal between the US and the EU looks even gloomier. Amid differences over what to negotiate and seemingly intractable demands, talks between Washington and Brussels appear doomed before they’ve begun. “We’re next,” European investors fear. CEOs globally are bracing for tariffs. Are trade wars the new normal?


Explore the causes and effects of current political and economic unrest in the Americas.

Find out:

  • The reason why unrest persists is Latin America
  • What are the impacts of US government shutdowns
  • Whether Venezuela’s turmoil could spread beyond its borders

Venezuela, home to vast oil deposits, is in turmoil. Nicolas Maduro, who swore himself in as interim president in January, has struggled with plummeting oil prices amid an economic crisis characterized by shortages of basic goods and soaring inflation. Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office in 2018 amid high expectations, now frightens investors. Prosperity is a dream for Mexicans, thousands of whom have sought to cross the 3,000-km US border in search of a job. In the US, the Department of Justice investigation into links between Donald Trump and Russia continues to dog a troubled presidency. Painful government shutdowns aside, last year’s midterms delivered a split Congress, with Democrats in charge of the House and Republicans in charge of the Senate, which will slow the passage of legislation. Which way out?


Migrants fill employment vacancies and create demand. So why are they so reviled? Take a deep dive to better understand the impact of economic migration on the global economy and doing business today.

Find out:

  • Should western nations reduce or increase immigration?
  • Are refugee crises of our own making

When thousands of migrants fleeing poverty and persecution in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador recently turned up at the US-Mexico border, US President Donald Trump labelled the caravan “an invasion”. Pragmatists might have called it thousands of missed opportunities. Economic migration, standard policy in western nationsensures continued growth of labour forces and economies. Yet Angela Merkel’s decision to allow more than a million migrants, mainly of Syrian origin, into Germany in 2015 raised more than a few eyebrows. The Chancellor swiftly acknowledged Germany’s challenge of better management of migration (along with transitioning to sustainable energy and creating a digital infrastructure) as one of three big tasks applicable to the wider world. Pulling southern economies out of poverty might discourage illegal migration, and spread wealth, but that does not answer why so many developed nations with relatively low fertility rates have not embraced immigration yet accept the risk of economic decline.


In an age of globalization should we put a microscope on customs and beliefs before seeking growth through product, market and customer acquisition? Engage with experts and your peers to learn why cultural issues can make or break business marriages.

Find out:

  • Whether due diligence can account for intangible social disparities in business deals
  • Why mergers and acquisitions can be so painful

Mergers happen. Acquisitions happen. Most fail. Does it boil down to a clash of cultures? Imagine the purchase of a used car. You test drive it and have a mechanic look over the engine. Despite your due diligence, the reality (whether it’s a bargain or a dog) only becomes truly evident months after your purchase. M&A deals follow similar challenges. You can rigorously scrutinize an existing business based on visible financial numbers, assumptions of a fit, and advice from M&A experts. The reality? That becomes evident after the deal, and months down the line. That reality is culture. How do we compare the intangibles of Business Style A with Business Style B? In our age of globalization, should a deeper understanding of “cultural governance” top our list of business priorities?



Is pushing venture capital away from traditional heartlands madness or shrewd contrarian thinking? Engage in an insightful conversation to better understand why it’s the latter and what the implications are.

Find out:

  • Whether the future of start-ups also lies beyond the tech hubs
  • Whether it can contribute to a more “conscious” form of capitalism

Are investors who seek the next big thing looking in the wrong places? Well-funded future start-ups will not necessarily emerge from the likeliest of places. Instead, a new wave of innovation and technological change will come from forgotten communities – the neglected and overlooked areas of our world. Those in obscure regions or remote northern towns, those in hidden hinterlands and southern states, will rise. Those who dare change how they perceive themselves, who play to their strengths and retain young talent, will benefit. But VCs must change too, and explore outside of the proverbial box. As the “Internet of Everything” takes hold, with all devices all connected, a new wave of businesses will not necessarily benefit from a tech ecosystem, but by forming partnerships at grassroots levels in the most of established of industries and in the most unlikely of places.


From the ground up and the inside out. Across two generations of business leaders, learn why enterprising families must embrace intrapreneurial initiatives, tap existing resources, and develop all-new revenue streams from legacy operations.

Find out:

  • The value of mentoring next gens to develop new businesses within existing operations
  • How to allocate energy to new ventures as a complement to core business caretaking.

Urgent intrapreneurial initiativesBuild from the ground up? Yes. From the inside out? Definitely! This is the future of enterprising families with the intent to sustain their businesses past three generations. Entrepreneurial families are the bedrock of the global economy. If they are to survive beyond 75 years, they must move away from a hyper-focus on core business planning and discover of new products and revenue streams by leveraging existing assets and, most vitally, by supporting next gens in intrapreneurial initiatives that develop and exploit old resources in new ways.


Are men and women different in their approach to business? If so, what are the implications for the longevity of a family enterprise?

Explore the perceptions and realities of women as risk-averse chief emotional officers in family businesses.

Find out:

  • Why quiet "female" determination can be a family firm’s greatest asset
  • Why it is time to abandon gender comparisons and exploit combined assets

Women and leadership: When US President Barack Obama was once asked about the qualities of leadership, he famously said: “Not to generalize, but women seem to have a better capacity than men do, partly because of their socialisation.” It has been posited that women are more likely to prioritize the needs of others over their own. Others argue that women act more ethically than men. In the context of family enterprise, women are sometimes referred to as chief emotional officers, invisible giants or the glue that binds family and business. Husbands are counselled to not underestimate the power of their spouses. Matriarchs work daughters harder so they can excel in a “man’s world”. It is time to abandon gender comparisons, and instead identify, isolate and apply mutual strengths?


Will the "quadruple bottom line" set societies once and for all on a path towards a more conscious form of enterprise?

Discover whether conscious investing is gaining credence in the hearts and minds of pioneers, corporate captains and government leaders.

Find out:

  • If the "quadruple bottom line" is more than just a catchphrase for business and the common good
  • What role average citizens will play in aligning purpose with corporate efforts for greater sustainability
Corporate sustainability has had a positive and adaptive effect on global supply chains, enabling novel environmental benefits and clever financial efficiencies, yet it has never been a fundamental element of business DNA. As millennials mature, we might witness impact investing – their probable financial legacy – morph into a broader, if not fully embedded, mindset of “conscious” investing, where financiers are motivated by causes. How will that manifest? An “outward in” rather than “inward out” approach – where the common man’s opinion is sought before the board’s – may emerge as the preferred method in shaping the ultimate inclusive quadruple-bottom-line model. But is quadruple thinking small? Sustainability is multidimensional. Business practices should match. That requires pioneering leadership, from citizenry and from governments with the will to implement intellectual frameworks that generate new thinking. Yet administrations can only enforce systemic change if it exists. 

Families Summit of Minds

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