This coming weekend I’ll be attending the annual meeting of Psychodynamics of Family Business (PDFB) in Chicago. I’m very much looking forward to it and being with some great colleagues.  We come up with interesting and creative ways to put our minds together to improve how we help business families be successful with business and family alike. Most of the attendees have some kind of clinical background (e.g., clinical social work, psychology, family therapy) although a few come from law or other disciplines and have a deep interest in the relationship/emotional part of the business family equation.

I’ll be presenting a workshop entitled, “Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘N Roll: Family Business Lessons from Metallica” along with my colleagues Sharon Dorsett from Maine and Barry Graff from California. The presentation is based on the movie “Some Kind of Monster,” a documentary following the heavy-metal band Metallica when its members hired a performance enhancement coach to help them through a stressful time.

While Metallica’s members are not actual blood relatives, they are so close and have so much in common with a family, particularly a business family; I will use clips from the movie in the workshop to demonstrate many of the issues business families face. Among these are defining and nurturing a common vision, respecting tradition while being open to change, bringing new members into the family and/or the business, addiction, and managing conflict. It is absolutely striking how useful this documentary is for enterprising families and their advisors and consultants from the perspective of better understanding the dynamics at play.

In addition, the coach in the documentary runs into many of the challenges consultants to successful families face when they are asked to enter a system in which there is power, wealth and, often, fame at play. The consultant falls prey to some common pitfalls – for example, I believe he loses sight of the appropriate professional boundaries when he offers suggestions for lyrics, gets defensive when the band wants less time with him and he even starts making plans to move closer to the band before they find out and confront him, afraid he is overstepping his role.

Ultimately, the coach seems to have been quite helpful overall – he was good enough for what they needed and he provided a safe space for some very difficult discussions. And the band expresses appreciation for the process even while they were uncomfortable with some of his choices.

I highly recommend “Some Kind of Monster,” available on Netflix! You don’t need to be a fan of the band or of heavy-metal music or of family business to enjoy it – only a fan of the depth of human experience and family (or family-like) relationships. Here is a link to a NY Times article about the documentary entitled, “Band on the Couch” which you can absorb quicker than the two-hour and twenty minute movie but I still highly suggest the movie is well worth the time.

And if you enjoy my connections between rock stars and family business/wealth issues, here are some oldies but goodies from my archives:

John Lennon/Strawberry Fields in Central Park

Carlos Santana (and son???)

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young