The 1% Podcast

Mark Gallagher


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    Mark Gallagher

    Lessons from the fast lane The 1% Podcast


My guest today is Mark Gallagher.

A Senior Executive and respected Broadcaster in the adrenaline-charged world of Formula One, Mark Gallagher translates his experiences from the race track to the language of business. Gallagher’s passion for the sport has been partly driven by the dual challenges of managing risk and high performance. His roles at the Jordan and Red Bull Racing Formula One teams were followed by his relaunch of Cosworth as one of Formula One’s best-known technology suppliers. He played a key role in developing current technical regulations which place an emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainability. His latest book, The Business of Winning: Strategic Success from the Formula One Track to the Boardroom, exposes the behind-the-scenes management of a Grand Prix team ensuring business continuity, viability and profitability. Mark is an international speaker and consults with organisations globally through his consulting business Performance Insights.

We talk about F1 today as well as some of the sports legends such as Aryton Senna, Nikki Lauda and Eddie Irvine as well as F1 technology, inter team rivalry and the sports marketing, branding and ongoing popularity.




Show Summary


2:16 Memories of Niki Lauda

  • Niki’s brush with death and his unexpected return to racing
  • Creating the Lauda Air and Niki airlines
  • His strong personality
  • Niki’s role in Mercedes’s success

4:46 Mark’s early days at Motor Sport magazine

  • The challenges of his sheltered childhood
  • Why he started in advertising
  • His love of writing
  • Recounting early racing journalism assignments

8:11 Ayrton Senna

  • His intensity of focus and religious beliefs
  • What made him different
  • Why he is perceived as the god of racing and serves as a benchmark to all other drivers

9:41 Working with Eddie Jordan’s F1 team

  • Their first meeting
  • Being approached by Eddie as he attempted to recruit Eddie Irvine
  • Mark’s different roles in communication, media, marketing, sponsorship and management

11:31 The team’s crazy antics

  • “Eddie is bonkers, there’s no question, but in a lovely way”
  • His old-school habits and his maverick approach
  • How the team took “Irishness” and turned it into a brand value
  • Attracting other teams with their hospitality and willingness to party
  • The harder aspects of working with Eddie

14:06 Criticism of the Jordan team

  • How “begrugery” affected their level of recognition
  • Paul Kimmage’s article about him in the Independent
  • Looking at the big picture: Eddie was successful businessman who led a successful team
  • Separating the man himself from his accomplishments
  • The tempering effects of time on the media’s perception of him

17:06 Eddie’s financial investment in the team

  • How this affected the rest of the team
  • His family’s participation in the financial risk and burden

18:31 The team’s heyday

  • Eddie as an empowering boss
  • “We didn’t realize how good a team we were”
  • Why they didn’t go further than they did
  • A politically incorrect marketing joke played on Eddie

23:16 Great leaders

  • What they have in common: their single-mindedness and work ethic
  • The appeal of Eddie’s maverick approach
  • The cult of personality
  • Leadership characteristics of Frank Williams (founder of Williams) and Ron Dennis (from McLaren)
  • Examples of McLaren’s impressive branding and attention to detail

26:31 Michael Schumacher

  • His start at Jordan
  • How he was perceived by those around him
  • One of Mark’s career highlights: being with Michael when he tested a Formula One car for the first time

28:53 Rivalry within teams

  • The odds of drivers running into each other
  • The rivalry between 2 Red Bull drivers: Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen
  • Daniel’s decision to leave and go to Renault
  • Why Honda and Red Bull seemed like a good match

32:31 Sponsorship

  • The loss of tobacco and banking sponsorship
  • How the business model has changed
  • The disproportionally high budgets of the top teams
  • How technology has changed the sport

36:18 New social media channels

  • Imagining former drivers using social media
  • Mark’s current media collaborations and involvement with drivers
  • What Mark misses and doesn’t miss about the work

39:10 Looking back at the 2019 season

  • Max Verstappen’s performance in the Austrian Grand Prix
  • Mercedes’s high performance
  • Lewis Hamilton’s skill and the varying attitudes towards him: “He’s got the magic formula”
  • The importance of pursuing other interests outside of racing
  • One to watch: Charles Leclerc
  • How video games have made racing more democratic and accessible
  • Predictions for Lewis Hamilton’s racing future and comparisons with Michael Schumacher
  • Leadership issues in the Williams team

49:04 Pit change-over

  • How to achieve such high-speed efficiency
  • How teams become successful: practice

51:56 Liberty Media’s purchase of Formula One

  • Problems with past leadership
  • The advantage of having a media and entertainment company take over F1
  • The “Americanization” of the sport
  • Eliminating “grid girls” and the backlash that followed
  • Women in racing

56:56 Waning interest in racing

  • Our changing media consumption habits
  • The public’s desire for unpredictability
  • Predictions for the digital future of the sport
  • The popularity of the Netflix series “Drive to Survive”
  • The potential death of live broadcast sporting events
  • New possible formats for watching sports
  • The advantage of Ferrari and Mercedes’s refusal to participate in the Netflix show: lesser teams getting more air time
  • Another highlight of the show: Guenther Steiner of Haas

1:02:46 Takeaways for business

  • Mark’s book “The Business of Winning”
  • How to build a high-performance team
  • “When we put our minds to things we can do them far faster than we expect”
  • How F1 teaches respect for deadlines
  • F1’s use of technology and how it has helped with risk management
  • Decreasing workplace fatalities
  • Why Formula 1 is a good model for business

1:09:00 Mark’s future plans

  • His monthly column for F1 Racing magazine
  • Broadcasting, radio, podcasting with Mika Häkkinen
  • Working with the young driver James Roe