The press surrounding Elon Musk over the last decade has been a roller coaster of people that love and admire him as well as an equal amount of critics, nay-sayers and short-sellers in the market with a bullseye on his back. Since I believe we all have good and bad qualities, I would like to focus on his good qualities so that we can all learn from him and his amazing accomplishments. Here are a few great takeaways I have learned from the study of his career and life:
1) His ambitions are not only HUGE, they are also crystal clear. The over-arching mission for Space X, Tesla and SolarCity has to do with their long-term impact on our planet and humanity as a whole. This means that his companies are literally changing the world as we know it. These are the types of missions that great people want to be a part of.
2) He is a rapid learner. Before he begins something, he reads everything available on the subject. Then he talks to anyone who knows anything. Then, he begins a rapid trial and error process consisting of testing, learning and improving until he gets it.
3) He is a forward-thinker, carefully analyzing where a market is going to be or where it needs to go. As Wayne Gretzky says, he doesn't skate to where the puck is, he skates to where the puck is going.
4) He uses unbelievably aggressive deadlines to drive unprecedented results. He is often criticized for missing a new rocket launch date or a Tesla model debut by a month. Many don't realize that this is by design. If it should take two years to build a rocket from scratch, Elon sets a dead line of three months and then pursues it relentlessly. A month behind that schedule puts you 20 months ahead of anyone else.
As Vince Lombardi said, "Gentleman, we will chase perfection relentlessly. Although we will never catch her, we will catch excellence along the way."
5) He hates outsourcing. After a brief stint of trying to buy over priced rockets from Russia, he determined that he could build one cheaper himself. After waiting on contractors to manufacture his parts, he determined he could make the parts better. He found out that there is no other company in the world that will act with the same passion, sense of urgency or the same standards as his people will. So he has used this as a competitive advantage. While his rocket and automobile competitors have to wait on their parts from thousands of suppliers all over the world, Elon makes his better, faster and cheaper in house.
6) He has the entrepreneurial spirit of a Samurai warrior. He will either accomplish his mission or die trying. After his 3rd failed rocket launch at Space X, he only had enough money to attempt one more. He could have easily taken the several million left in the bank and walked away to fight another day. Not a chance -- even though it was deemed impossible, he put it all on the line and the fourth launch not only made it into orbit but also landed him the necessary contracts to keep the business going.
I hope you will join me in focusing on Elon Musk's good qualities and use him as an inspiration to better the world in our own unique way.