The Importance Of Maintaining A Network Of Valued Friendships

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Above: Patrick Tambay in his McLaren – picture courtesy of Patrick himself :)

In recent weeks, I have been spending much time researching information on guests, their histories and successes as I prepare for the forthcoming McLaren Old Boys and Girls Reunion and Dinner on September 11th close to Goodwood Racing Circuit.  It is a poignant event as it is very close to where on June 2nd in 1970 the racing teams founder Bruce McLaren lost his life in a testing accident and it is also the anniversary of the dreadful happenings in New York 12 years ago.  Importantly, whilst giving thoughts and due reference to these happenings, it is also a time of great joy and happiness as old friends and colleagues come back together from across 50 years of motor racing achievement to celebrate their achievements and successes as individuals and as teams. From Can-Am to Indycar, from Formula 1, to Heritage collections, they will be there.

As the event’s host and in working with founding organiser Matthew Jeffreys, (McLaren’s former chassis designer between 1979 and 2005), I have been contacting a great many former and current McLaren employees, sponsors, drivers and colleagues who are attending and it is with these actions in mind that I realise the importance of a strong, well connected network of friends and associates.

It has given me a real and much needed jolt in terms of just how quickly our professional and personal lives pass us by. One of those I have contacted for the event is former Formula 1 driver, Patrick Tambay.  I got to know Patrick quite well in the 1980′s and it was only in contacting him last week that I realised what a wealth of information this great man holds in his mind and in his archives, yet despite those years of fun and friendship, we had lost contact.  Patrick’s achievements were quite something – despite only winning two GPS’s,  he drove for McLaren, Ferrari, Beatrice, Renault, Theodore, Ligier, Surtees and Haas Lola!  2 Wins, 11 Podiums, 5 Pole Positions, 2 Fastest Laps and 103 career point scored…as if that is not enough, he is a deputy mayor in a suberb of Cannes in France and is godfather to Jacques Villeneuve!  He is also a food and wine lover – what better mate can a bloke have?

How I am asking myself can one lose touch with associates and friends like that?  The answer is scarily simple really in that we all get immersed in our busy lives, projects, with friends and families and the like and we seem to forget the depth and value of what we have gained along the way.

Another great friend and sparring partner from 1987 and my time at McLaren as Sponsorship Co-ordinator is former GP driver Stefan Johansson. Ferrari, Onxy, McLaren, Spirit Racing….how on earth did I lose touch with him? And Prost, yes Alain Prost! Four times World Champion, 1984/85/86/87/that amazing 1988 season and again at Williams in 1992 spent together…how could we have lost touch?

This has all taught me one thing…I should spend more time on speaking to people and friends within my network and my phone book!  Not just for business reasons of course, but for reasons of personal value in terms of friendship and sharing past achievements and current interests.  All of us benefit from great experiences as we move through life and whilst some record these on film and in pictures and others on paper and in books, it is all too easy to forget to relish the important moments in our life and think how by keeping in contact we could prosper both in terms of ongoing business and commerce.  Most importantly though, through friendships we are enriching our time on this planet.

However well we know someone, at times it can be a shock to see how they have developed their lives and we have failed to notice.  One of my great friends is artist and musician, Simon Taylor.  Simon and I met through motor racing and his then thriving artwork business of drawing and painting motorsport stars in F1 rally and motorcycle racing.  After our meeting in 1994 I went on to represent Simon for many years and whilst we still have the ‘opportune crossing’ of interests, I have failed to keep a close watch on his skills as they have matured and developed – the end result?

This picture:

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What a stunning piece of work!  Simon and I are now actively working together again on the McLaren 50th reunion where four of his specific new works will be on display.

However the point of this ‘shameful admission’ of mine of not paying enough attention, is this.  We all know we lead busy lives, we all know we try hard to find that elusive balance in our business and private lives and we know that to move ahead, we must continually refresh and reinvigorate ourselves and our offerings, but the crucial thing is also to remember all of those in our pasts and pay them due reference, for it is by doing so that we enruch our own lives and those of our friends and clients.

I cannot put into words how much I am looking forward to seeing 240 people from all eras of McLaren’s history back in one room.  Engineers, financiers, mechanics, sponsors, drivers, media and family members.  What is hugely important moving forwards as friends and keeping in touch.

As Matthew Jeffreys said to me the other day “McLaren is a family – we move, we travel, we change and we develop, but we are a family, and families should stick together”.

My ‘family’ from years gone by has just given me something once again.  It has given me the impetus to keep in touch, exchange views and contacts and above all, value what we all have in our human networks – friendship.

My friendships within my client base from later life are taking me far during the remainder of this year.  From Dublin to Scotland and later in the year to Australia and the Middle East, I will be making sure I leave no stones unturned in keeping in touch we everyone I meet along the way.

As if I needed any further prompting, I watched the Hunt v’s Lauda BBC2 documentary again on Sunday night.  In talking to my Sons, I mentioned it and was asked, did you ever know James or work with Niki Lauda…perhaps I need to spend more time with my family…..

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