Suspension Tuning ~ RaceTeq
Martha Maznevski is Professor of Organizational Behaviour and Faculty Director for Executive Education at Ivey. She is an expert in global teams, global leadership, culture and identity, and empowering individual differences. She has published widely on these topics in academic and management arenas, and also works closely with leaders and their companies around the world on innovative approaches to leadership at all levels in today’s highly complex global environment.
Dr. Maznevski completed her Ph.D. at Ivey with research on multicultural teams, and has expanded that research stream throughout her career. She publishes the popular textbook International Management Behavior, now in its 7th edition, with Ivey professors Emeriti H. Lane and J. DiStefano. Her research has been published in leading journals including the Journal of International Business Studies and Strategic Management Journal. Her current research unlocks the performance dynamics of lateral teams – teams that coordinate across multi-unit organizations such as global key account teams or matrixed product or function groups.
Prior to joining Ivey as a Professor, Dr. Maznevski served fifteen years as Professor at IMD (Institute for Management Development) in Switzerland. She developed, directed, and taught in open and custom executive education programs for senior leaders, including CEOs, from a wide range of industries and in countries around the world.
She also directed IMD’s globally top-ranked MBA program. Prior to IMD, she was an Assistant Professor at University of Virginia. She has served as a consultant and advisor to public and private organizations in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia on challenges and opportunities of managing people globally, and she works frequently with global humanitarian and conservation NGOs.
Keith Veira: Martha, tell us a little about what you do, (profession) and your connection with DriveTeq?
Martha Maznevski: I am a professor and I teach leadership and organizational behaviour. I’m specifically looking at cross cultural management and global leadership. Right now I'm at the Ivey Business School, but I spent 15 years from 2001 to 2016 at a school in Switzerland. While I was living there I became enamoured with the driving culture.
Coming back home to Canada in 2016, I was looking for a way to keep that up. So that's kind of the headline of how those two parts of my life come together, it was this discovery in Switzerland. The professor part has always been about learning and putting the learning into application, and because I'm a professor of global leadership it means I'm always looking at people's experiences around the world and how they are both similar and different from each other.
Then I also look at how the interfaces between those similarities and differences can lead to innovation and cause interesting things to happen.
Plus with my professional side I always found it super interesting when travelling to Europe because you see all of those interfaces all the time. When you go 50 kilometers and it's a different language on the side of the road, and there’s a different legal system it shows you a whole different way of seeing things. It was a lot of fun.
Then there’s the relation between that and driving. I'm 57 years old so I don't I don't know if that's important to you or not but I was young when I got into this. I have always loved driving, but it wasn't something I prioritized much beyond always having a car. It wasn’t really something I prioritized until I was living in Europe and the driving culture there is very interesting since people appreciate precision and high quality driving.
I was 42 when I bought my first real sports car. It was a 911 996 Carrera C4S and I bought it brand new in 2005. I loved it. You know I was scared when I bought it but I'd always wanted one so I went out and bought it and about three months later I took it to the tracks. My first track day was at the Porsche Training Center in Leipzig, Germany, which is, in retrospect, one of the best first track experiences you could ever have in your life.
If you didn't fall in love with track driving after that you never would. It’s an amazing facility and an amazing track, and I had great instruction there. I remember being really afraid when I first went that either it wasn't going to be nearly as much fun as my fantasy was, or that I was going to be really terrible. Neither of those things happened. It was way better than my fantasy and even though I was really terrible in the first half-day, by the end of the second day I was really getting good and feeling good about it. From there I just never looked back. It was amazing.
It’s the feeling of the driving that I love. It’s how you feel when you're going around curves and you and the car are working together, and the cars taking you through it. It's just amazing. Every time I do a track day, when I come back home I'm just in a completely different place mentally and emotionally.
KV: How did you learn about RaceTeq’s Suspension Tuning program?
MM: It was actually through Matt DiStefano. He works very closely with them obviously. His father is the person I went to Europe to work with. So when I came back to Canada I actually wasn't sure that I would continue driving because my experience in Europe was so phenomenal that I didn't think that I would be able to match it here and if I couldn't match it, it wouldn't be worth it. As you see it's wonderful but it's a lot of work and a lot of money. If it's as much work and as much money but when I get there it's not as great an experience, I'd rather just say, ‘That was my Europe chapter, I’ll do something else here.’ But Joe, Matt’s dad, and Matt connected me with Rick Morrelli and Gerry Low of DriveTeq.
They said before you decide that you need to do something with Gerry and Rick because we think you're really going to like their organization. So I still wasn't ready to commit to a car but I went out and bought a 2008 Boxster S. When you get it used you can get it for quite a reasonable price and it's a Boxster S so it’s zippy, and I love the mid-engine feel.
I bought that fairly soon after we moved back because I couldn't be without a sports car. I thought I could but it turns out I couldn't. In fact my whole family was like, ‘Mom, please get a car. We actually like you better after you do these drives. It’s not just you that likes them.’ So I got the Boxster and went out with Gerry and Rick, and said well I'll just try this. They run some of the best track experiences I have ever experienced. Matt is the best coach I’ve ever worked with and I've had a lot of instruction
I discovered the suspension tuning program from hanging out with DriveTeq and RaceTeq. I learned from being at track days with them and then hanging around, kind of seeing what they're doing, and frankly being a little jealous of the people who are involved.
KV: What type of vehicle are you driving and why did you enrolled in RaceTeq’s Suspension Tuning course?
MM: The vehicle that I'm driving is a Porsche 992 4S Cabriolet and it’s not involved in the suspension tuning program basically because it is set up to do all of that itself. It’s not as adjustable as the cars that they’re working with, which also means that it's not going to be quite as suitable for the track driving.
So, how do I take a car that’s already well tuned? The two variables are the car and the driver. The suspension-tuning program already takes you as a pretty good driver and then explores how can you take those driving skills and increase them by improving the car. I've got a pretty good car and I am seeing how I can increase the driving skill. I'm doing all of that with my own car but we're not making the adjustments to it, which is really what the suspension tuning is all about.
Porsche 992 4S Cabriolet
KV: Please describe three key revelations you learned from RaceTeq and how they complement your driving skills?
MM: The first lesson is the one that Matt calls the Yoda lesson. Have you heard of the Yoda lesson? I’ve heard the pieces before but the way that you put them together and then label them as the Yoda lesson really made a huge difference. The Yoda lesson is to steer with your brakes and brake with your steering wheel.
That’s why it’s named after Yoda. Basically this is really about understanding the physics of how the car responds to forward motion and lateral motion. Then if you understand that you can manipulate the forward and the lateral motion by moving the other one. Forward or backward motion affects the lateral motion and vice versa.
Normally if you want to slow down you use your brakes, so that's the forward-backward motion and if you want to steer you use your steering wheel, which is the lateral motion. But those two are actually related to each other you know if you slow down or speed up it affects your steering and your ability to move laterally and vice versa.
If you’re steering, it affects how you can speed up or slow down, if you're turning. So the idea is to learn to use that relationship in a deliberate way, not just by accident. That was the first big ‘Aha’. It was putting all of those pieces together and realizing that you can use them strategically and use them on purpose.
It takes a while to be able to do it and I had learned all of those pieces before but working with Matt just really helped me put all of those pieces together and see them as tools and that was a big ‘Aha’.
It is counterintuitive. That’s not what they teach you in Driver’s Ed. It’s also different from the first thing you learn when you go on track, which is that you should never turn while you’re braking. So you brake, you get to a speed, then you lift your foot off the brake and then you turn.
You never brake when you're turning and you never turn when you're braking. When you're first starting to drive on track you have to do that without even thinking. So then this actually takes it a step further and breaks that rule, but in a very deliberate way.
Part of what I really appreciate about Matt and why I say he’s the best instructor I've ever worked with is that I felt him adapting to me. Every other instructor I’ve ever worked with, I’ve adapted to them. I think, what is this person going to teach me? This is their expertise so this is what I'm going to get from this course and this person.
As I was working with Matt I could feel him doing that for me, and then adapting his teaching style to what I needed, which is really unique. It's completely customized and I was already impressed with DriveTeq and RaceTeq, but that’s the kind of coaching they do. It’s really amazing! It means you take leaps and bounds in your own capabilities, not just steps.
Number two was really learning to feel it. So it's still related to number one but it’s not just knowing it in my head, but knowing it with my body. The way that we got to there was that Matt wasn't in the car with me because of COVID. So I was following him on the track and he's so good that he could keep just ahead of me. We tried it without headsets first and I actually liked that better because I was really focused on doing and not just listening.
That was part of the learning to feel it actually, was not being on headsets, but just doing it. It was a combination of sometimes I followed him and sometimes he followed me. Because I had an instructor but we weren’t talking I was focused entirely on how it felt. Then your body gets it, not just your head. You know through your bum, your back, and your shoulders how it’s supposed to feel as you're at different stages. It's really cool.
That’s number two, and number three was then to learn to turn it on its head and play with it. You want to be perfect but part of the fun is not being perfect. I mean, if you're racing you can't play around because somebody is in your way. So it was about actually learning to enjoy myself and not be frustrated with doing it differently. It just felt so irreverent.
KV: How would you summarize the instructions you received from RaceTeq?
MM: Beyond what I’ve said about Matt I think that it would be - and it’s not just Matt, I’ve received instruction from Gerry and Rick as well. They really customize the training to you. I mean first of all what they want is for you to improve and they really have that as their first goal. It’s not that they want to teach you this specific method or that they just want to make you fast. They want to help you become a better driver and then within that it's very customized.
They’re all extremely knowledgeable, but they're also very able to adapt. What makes the context good is that they're very aware of the social context of the day and by social I don't just mean food and everybody being happy.
They are constantly making sure everybody's introduced to everybody. Which sounds like a little thing, but it's actually huge. I don't know if you've noticed but track days involve a bunch of people, and some of them are involved in racing, and some of them are involved in the RaceTeq suspension training, and for other people it’s their first time out there. All those things have to go together to make it a good day and to make people want to come back to it.
Rick and Gerry overall manage the whole day and I've seen this with Matt too and the other staff. They’re really good at introducing people to each other, bringing people into conversations, and making people feel comfortable being there. They take that part of it very seriously, which makes a big difference too.