During this year whilst creating our Get The Drive program I have interviewed a lot of Driver Managers and Sports Agencies who represent race drivers.
One of my main questions to them is "What would be the one golden nugget of advice that you would give to a driver who is trying to make it in this sport?"
Today I want to share the most common piece of advice that they usually tell me and in doing this I hope to wake you up, to get you out of your own set ways and to remind you of what you must bring to the party, as a driver.
Provide Value Or Get Out Of This Sport!
Managers and agencies tell me this in different ways but in essence one of the most popular tips I get is based on this following sentence:
"If a driver is not providing value, then they have no place here!"
This rule goes for most industries, sports, businesses and even personal relationships.
If you as a race driver, a company or as a person are not bringing serious value to others then you will soon be disposed of.
Drivers seem to forget this simple rule of survival.
It's the same for anyone in Motorsport, for me as a coach, for managers, for engineers, team bosses, mechanics, truckies, agents.......everyone has to be valuable and continue to provide value if they are to stick around.
Drivers will never get anywhere without providing some kind of benefit to those who can help them.
Motorsport (and life) is like a deletion machine, if you do not bring something that others need, then you will be deleted or not even give a chance in the first place.
I am here today to make sure that you fully understand this and act on it immediately.
How Can Driver's Bring Value?
A driver's value can come in different forms but let's simplify things down here.
First off you must always, ALWAYS remind yourself that a race team is nothing more than a business.
They are here to thrive and survive in this sport and their blood line is cash. Cash and doing business (to get cash).
Ok they also want to win and are in the sport for genuine sporting reasons but they need cash to fulfill their own dreams and goals in Motorsport.
You, as a driver, are one of their greatest resources and sources for getting what they want.
For them to be able to compete they need drivers who can help them either pay the bills or reach their dreams.
Drivers can do this by providing one or more of the following benefits:
1) Outright speed and impressive track record
2) The finance to run a car/s
4) Drivers who can deliver commercial benefits or partnerships
As a driver if you are not providing 1 or more of these 4 qualities then you will find it very difficult to get anywhere in this sport.
The Industry Doesn't Care About You
Teams, managers, sponsors and investors do not give two hoots about how much you want to be a race driver, they do not care about your story (unless it's marketable).
This isn't because they are heartless, this is because your aspirations do not provide tangible value for others.
You may have a rags to riches dream in your head and feel that you have a story that others will fall in love with, but I'm afraid to say that this is not enough for people to throw money and opportunities your way.
Again this is business, not charity.
In business you are required to trade like for like - you bring something they value, they bring something you value. The trade is then done!
It is a very basic principle but most drivers forget this.
Instead you see drivers (I used to do this by the way) get caught up in what the sport means to them, how they deserve a chance and they fall in love with their own story.
In reality nobody gives a damn about your story and how much it means to you, they are too focused on their own journey.
So it is up to you to instead show them what you can do for them and in return they will reward you.
Look At This From A Driver Manager's Point Of View
Managers spend their working lives helping drivers get the best shot possible with the resources that their drivers can provide.
They help drivers in the following ways:
1) Team placement
2) Getting the best deals
3) Sponsorship acquisition
4) Handling contracts and contractual issues
5) The wellbeing of the driver
6) Protecting the driver and their investors from foreseeable problems
7) Open up opportunities and set up meetings with key people to assist the drivers career
8) Appoint experts to help the driver improve performance wise
And so on.
So you can say that a good manager is worth their salt.
In return a manager or agency needs the driver to give them something to work with, something that they can go sell to teams, manufacturers and sponsors.
The drivers they work with need to possess something of value to the industry in order to open up opportunities.
This needs to be at least 1 of the 4 qualities that I mentioned earlier.
The driver either needs to be able to bring finance, speed or commercial value to a team or manufacturer.
If not then a management company will have nothing to go with.
They will damage their reputation in the industry by suggesting drivers who bring no value.
Reputation Is Huge
When a manager goes to a team on behalf of a driver, then that manager is putting their reputation on the line.
For example if your manager went to Toto Wolff and said "Toto you must take a look at this driver, he is the best kept secret in Motorsport, he has so much potential and I guarantee that my driver is the next big star that will help Mercedes in DTM, blah blah blah".
If Toto was to give that driver a test, on Mercedes' expense, but that driver completely sucked balls all day in the test, or had a bad attitude, or wasn't intelligent enough on the engineering side, or wasn't fit enough and/or ended the day smashing that car up, can you imagine the repercussions?
That particular manager who suggested that driver would have destroyed their own reputation, harmed their relationship with Toto and would probably not be allowed to visit the offices in Stuttgart again.
Reputation is all we have in this sport, it is a big part of our value so managers need to make sure that they select drivers who have something to sell and will not embarrass them.
You cannot blame them because it only takes one 'bad' driver to undermine their decades of hard work.
So As For You
Back to you, I want you to seriously assess where you stand with this, what value are you bringing to the sport right now?
Mark yourself (out of 10) in the 4 qualities needed.
Be honest and really face whether you are creating enough value in order to reach the goal you have in Motorsport.
If you do not have the finance then do something about it.
If you do not have the speed or results then do something about it.
If you are not marketable then do something about it.
If you do not know how to offer teams business opportunities that will help them reach their goals in different ways, then yes, bloody do something about it.
You need to create value for others in order to get your chance, there is no way round this.
You need to find out what a team's greatest needs are, and then make sure that you are the driver who delivers those needs to them. Then obviously get the right person to communicate this to them.
Get advice on this, ask managers and agencies to give your campaign an assessment and for advice on how you can get yourself into positions where you can provide that value.
For example if you understand that you need to improve your results, then instead of racing in an expensive championship that you cannot afford to compete at the front of, swallow your pride, race in a championship that is better suited to you and your budget, get assistance to help improve your actual driving, then get out there and dominate the damn thing.
It is all about raising your market value.
You must spend all of your time raising your market value through the 4 main areas.
Do this, spend most of your days doing nothing but this and you just watch what happens over the coming years.
Be more intelligent and proactive in this area, this alone will put you ahead of most of the other drivers out there and will allow you to talk the 'true language' of teams and manufacturers.
That's valuable in itself.
Now get out there and let's do it right this time.