Why should I care about Elon?
Daydreaming about what the world will be like 50 years from now is one thing. Actively shaping how the future should be is ambition on a whole ‘nother level.
Idolized as a mad scientist and serial entrepreneur, this man needs no introduction. Elon Musk is one of the greatest innovators of our time and is responsible for bringing revolutionary ideas to life including commercial electric cars, space travel and renewable energy, to name a few.
Oh! Did I mention, Elon did not become an entrepreneur to be financially successful? His ultimate goal is to radically change the world for good.
So what did he build?
When he is not busy revealing a new electric car or preparing for lift-off, Elon is focused on making his dreams come true. He has grand aspirations for the next decades and is not about to slow down anytime soon.
“To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy” is the heart of the company’s mission. Tesla produces electric cars at affordable for the mass market. If you think Tesla is just another car manufacturer, think again.
Launched in 2008 and accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds running on lithium battery, the Roadster set a new standard for electric mobility. In just a few years, the car can be found on the road in more than 30 countries.
In 2012, Tesla launched Model S, the world’s first premium electric sedan. Model S was named Motor Trend’s 2013 Car of the Year.
Earlier this year, Tesla surpassed General Motors as the most valuable automaker in America. Fueled by momentum and pride, the company plans to dominate the road and expand its footprint across the globe.
Another one of Elon’s initiatives is SpaceX, which sets out to revolutionize space technology, with the goal of one day enabling people to live on other planets. The company designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.
SpaceX made history as the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station; providing 1,000 pounds of supplies for the astronauts stationed there.
Most recently in March 2017, SpaceX enjoyed another breakthrough with the successful test flight and landing of a rocket made from reusable parts, a milestone that opened the door for more affordable space travel.
Note: In addition to Tesla and SpaceX, Elon is also the visionary behind companies including SolarCity, Hyperloop, OpenAI, Neuralink and The Boring Company.
Back up, it’s too good to be true. How did he build it?
It is no secret that Tesla and SpaceX compete in a high-cost, high-risk industries; meaning the road to success for Elon and his companies have not been easy. But despite the odds and a history of failures, he refuses to give up.
- 2008: Tesla nearly collapsed during the financial crisis. Elon injects his fortune into the company to avoid going bankrupt.
- 2012: When tested, the Roadster ran out of power before achieving the promised range. Sales eventually ceased when Tesla ran out of Lotus gliders.
- 2013: A year after its introduction, the Model S catches on fire after hitting debris on the highway. Shortly after, Tesla introduces rudimentary self-driving software into its vehicles.
- 2016: Fatal crash that occurred in a Model S which triggered an evaluation into the performance of Autopilot.
- 2006: First SpaceX launch fails just 33 seconds after takeoff.
- 2007: Engines shut down prematurely and the rocket fails to reach orbit.
- 2008: Two of the rocket stages separate and collide, sending the spacecraft into an uncontrollable spin.
- 2014: SpaceX wins NASA contract, the third rocket exploded at launch, destroying the NASA satellites aboard.
- 2015: SpaceX rocket ends in a crash near launch site. Later that year, SpaceX successfully lands a rocket upright for the first time. Elon tweets “Welcome back, baby!”
- 2016: One of the legs on rocket did not latch, causing it to fall over and ultimately explode.
Throughout this tumultuous journey, Elon’s tenacity, willingness to take risks and confidence to stand by the big ideas is what makes him admirable to many.
Mind over matter: Tackling failure head-on, Elon style
Elon once said “If something is important enough you should try, even if the probable outcome is failure.” Those who finish on top respond differently to failure. Are they afraid? Of course! But what keeps them up at night is not simply failing, but rather failing to try again. “Either I went all in,” he said. “I didn’t want to look back and say there was something more I could have done.”
So how can we bounce back from failure to make every learning count?
1. Accept that failure is essential to success.
Failure is not the key to success, it is the only door to success. Elon was quoted saying “Failure is considered a badge of honor. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying. And if you aren’t failing big time, you aren’t aiming high enough.”
2. Admit it!
The sooner you admit to your mistake, the sooner you can do something about it. In giving advice, Elon emphasizes the importance of seeking critical feedback, whether it be through self-reflection or from those you trust. Owning your mistakes can actually enhance your image. It shows confidence, accountability and integrity. Just make sure you do not make the same mistake twice.
3. Fix it!
Acknowledging you were wrong is one thing, knowing how to fix it and getting your team onboard is leadership at its finest. Find out what went wrong and come up with a solution. Elon proves that once you have mastered the art of failing, success then becomes your only option.
4. Let your goals guide you, but be ready to improvise.
Elon could have easily played it safe with the sale of PayPal to eBay, but instead, he stayed true to his heart to change the world for the better. He stuck to his core values and reinvested the funds it into Tesla and SpaceX so he could leave his mark on this planet in a positive way. In reaching his goal, he had to make a few compromises along the way including selling stakes to eventual competitors Daimler and Toyota, in order to save Tesla from going bankrupt. For that tradeoff, we was able to achieve greater success in the long-run.
The key takeaway here is that success isn’t what it appears to be on the headline of magazine covers. Failure is an everyday part of doing business, in some shape or form. The difference is in how you react to it.
What’s Elon’s response? “I will never give up” he says.
Have thoughts on this post? Elon as an entrepreneur? Or what about failure and the lessons it has taught you? I’d love to hear!