4 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Top Gear

Any fan of motoring is a fan of BBC’s Top Gear. That’s a given. But what about the masses that can’t tell a hatchback from a sedan, let alone a Honda from a Hyundai? The beauty of this automotive television series is that it entertains all. When it comes down to it, it’s really just three middle-aged men messing about with cars (and each other), and having a whale of a time while they’re at it. Often politically incorrect, yet always hysterical, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May make up the show’s trio of hosts.

You may think it silly, but there is much to learn from these three “blithering idiots”, as they so often call each other. And not just life lessons, but lessons that will make you a better entrepreneur. The trio has since left Top Gear, after a staggering 22 years, to produce a new series. But more on that later. For now, let’s reminisce on the good old days with four pearls of wisdom from a few accidental gurus to a business innovator.

(Featured Photo via Metro)


1. Rejoice in failure

Most television shows go through hundreds of takes just to get the perfect shot. Blunders and misfortunes are reserved for the blooper reel or the behind-the-scenes special. With Top Gear, every episode is like a montage of Jackie Chan’s medical history. Okay, not really. But you get the point.

They’ve flipped cars, cracked ribs, broken bones, slipped discs, suffered concussions, and got a bee stuck in one’s nose (see: Jeremy driving a Porsche convertible in season 15, episode 4). And it’s all caught on tape – even the most severe of it all, a near fatal incident, when Richard crashed and overturned a Vampire Dragster, which left him comatose with brain damage and memory loss.

As an entrepreneur, the least you can do is to expect failure – lots of failure. Welcome them as personal learning opportunities that only you can receive. One of them might even turn out to be a success in disguise. Besides, the more comfortable you get with failure, the less disappointment you’ll face, which frees you to keep going until you get it right.

2. Break the mould

Who says you can’t sail across the ocean in a car? Or race airport vehicles? Or have an actual car chase inside a shopping mall? To call Top Gear the world’s most unorthodox comedy motoring show would be a major understatement. We’re talking about a series that makes celebrities do laps in budget automobiles. They’ve put cars on railway tracks, replacing carriages with caravans, in the hopes of improving train travel. It was a catastrophe, of course, but a hilarious one nonetheless.

The point is to break the rules and be different. Creative ideas, even if they’re slightly insane, are never born out of sticking to conventions. Take Apple for example, whose slogan used to be “Think different”. Steve Jobs revolutionised computer design. It was the first to introduce voice-activated personal assistants (i.e. Siri), and just last year, was the first to do away with headphone jacks.


(Photo: Alan Kent’s Blog)

3. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Whilst doling out advice at NRF’s (National Retail Federation) 2017 Retail’s BIG Show, Richard Branson said, “Being a bit cheeky and having a bit of fun is good – not taking yourself too seriously is important.” Top Gear’s former hosts, who are constantly basking in tomfoolery and doubling up with laughter as a result, would readily agree.

Not taking yourself too seriously is not the same as throwing discipline and a work ethic out the window. It’s about having a sense of humour, enjoying the ride, and being flexible – a crucial ingredient for innovation. Considering the valleys you’ll have to trudge through as an entrepreneur, you’ll need the laughs to survive. Otherwise, you’d be no better than a corporate zombie stuck in a loop of misery.


(Photo: Drive Tribe)

4. Never give up

Due to his trouble-making ways, Jeremy landed himself in the middle of a controversy that got him kicked off one of UK’s longest running television shows. Not wanting to continue the series without their best bud, Richard and James left the show as well. While the faint-hearted would call it a day, these aging iron-willed Brits found another way to keep the show going.

Together with Amazon Prime, a Netflix-like subscription service, they’ve created The Grand Tour. Described as “Top Gear in witness protection”, it’s mostly the same show, except you won’t see The Stig, and each episode will be set in a different location around the world. The Amazon Prime exclusive recently became globally available in December 2016, and it’s no surprise it’s doing better than the current line-up of Top Gear.

Resilience is the hallmark of the entrepreneurial spirit. It takes a whole lot of mental fortitude to not give up when the whole world seems to be shoving you the other way, but if you keep your eyes on the prize and forge ahead, everything you’ve been working for might just be a few moments away.

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