Why connections matter: The story of the Four Vagabonds

One of the key features you will find in most successful people is that they are careful about who they place around them. This means advisers, trainers, mentors, team members, friends and partners. Who you choose to connect with, it matters. 

Every aspect of your life needs to integrate so that your brain, your heart and your body are constantly being nourished and nurtured.  

If those around you constantly challenge you, stretch you, feed and support you, then every aspect of your life is aligned. This can happen wherever you are; at home, with your peers, at work, with your mentors, socialising, or in your health and fitness environment.

Read: Unusual places to make business connections

If you choose who you interact with carefully enough, you will find a level of care and concern that gives you comfort and security but hopefully keeps pushing you out of your comfort zone.

This means that you can seamlessly move from board meeting to team meeting to recreation to fitness sessions to family time, without a change in the quality of the person you are interacting with. It also helps you identify people who are not upbuilding or positive to be around among the random folk you might meet every day. 

There is a famous example known as The Four Vagabonds; a group consisting of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and John Burroughs, a naturalist and essayist.  

They became known for their summer camping trips which rapidly became more than a vacation. 

The idea was born in 1914 when Edison was visited by Burroughs and Ford in Florida. They toured the Everglades together.

The next year the three were in California for the Panama-Pacific Exposition. Together, they went to Luther Burbank and motored from Riverside to San Diego.

Read: Can introversion be an entrepreneurial advantage?

The group expanded through the next ten years to include Harvey Firestone, his son, Harvey Junior, and Robert DeLoach of the Armour Company. This elite group of friends even included the 29th President of the United States, Warren Harding. Later trips needed a large a big twenty-seater folding round table.

There was a whole convoy of vehicles on these trips; cars, vans, staff and equipment. There were even Ford Motor Company official photographers to record the journeys. The caravan, in later years, involved fifty vehicles (two of them Ford marques) and a kitchen camper that had a gasoline stove in it. There was a portable ice box, a cook, and a big touring car on a truck that contained sections for lights, chairs, beds and tents. 

This high level group of friends grew from a relationship that resulted in Henry Ford being able to build the car business that he did.

When Henry Ford [right] was starting his career, he worked for the Edison Illuminating Company. His ambition was to build an affordable car “For the great multitude,” and he was later to become the chief engineer for his hero, Thomas Edison.

Edison encouraged Ford to pursue his vision to create the gasoline-powered vehicle. This mentoring example led to the manufacture of the first Ford model Ts.

The friendship that started between the two men helped both of them to develop to develop their individual missions. 

A lot of the brainstorming was done during the camping trips described above.

Can you imagine the conversations that may have taken place as these American titans relaxed on their upscale camping trips, sometimes accompanied by their families?

What came from the Ford-Edison relationship proves that if you have the best network of people around you, there is no limit to what you can achieve.

We may not all be presidents and prime ministers, but if we think of ourselves as our own giants with unlimited potential, who knows what we can achieve if we create the right teams around us.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.


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