7 Traits Of Elon Musk Which Set Him Apart – Strategy With RS

Elon Musk is a strong contender for the throne vacated by Steve Jobs. He is creating a world in which the world is likely to reside in future. It makes sense to get an insight into how Elon Musk thinks.

I am sharing with you 7 ways of his thinking, which sets him apart and which resonates with me. Do savour them and take time out to share if it resonates with you, too.

1. Do not be a slave to process – In large organizations, process becomes a substitute for thinking & creativity and over time kills human ingenuity!

2. Take inspiration from physics. It provides a good framework for thinking: Boil things down to their fundamentals truths and reasons up from there. Elon Musk applied this principle successfully to build his battery business.

3. Any product that needs a manual to work is broken. Take Apple. It is possible to use its product without referring to the manual, which accompanies it! Proposed solution: Make your products intuitive to use and see it take the world by storm!

4. Seek non-stop criticism: Musk strives to create the most perfect product. But no matter how perfect it is, there is always room for improvement. Solution embraced by Musk: When his friends sing praise about Tesla, he stops them and pointedly asks them to share with him what they think is wrong with Tesla? Once he collects these drawbacks he gets down to eliminating them from the root itself so that subsequent generation of Tesla do not have these
 drawbacks. Because he does it consistently, hence over time Tesla become flawless and delivers an awesome experience to its owners!

5. It’s ok to have your eggs in 1 basket as long as you can control what happens to that basket. Even Warren Buffet supports Musk on this – ‘Diversification is the protection against ignorance. It makes very little sense to those who know what they are doing’. By the way, Alphabet and more recently Microsoft seems to be hedging its bet by not putting all its egg in one basket!

6. There is no way that you can live an adequate life without making a mistake. This advice of Charles Munger, partner of Warren Buffet resonates with Musk and also with Buffet, who adds, ‘I make plenty of mistakes and I will make plenty more mistakes, too. That’s part of the game. You just have to sure that the right things overcome the wrong.’ Let me get in Mario Andretti, an Italian American former racing driver, one of the most successful Americans in the history of the sport who said, ‘If everything seems under control then you are just not going fast enough.’

7. Work like hell … it is good work ethics to embrace and live by, all your life!



In this series, Rajesh Srivastava, Business Strategist and Visiting Faculty at IIM Indore gives you a regular dose of strategy case studies to help you think and keep you one step ahead as a professional as compared to your peers. Rajesh is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and IIT Kanpur and has over 2 decades of experience in the FMCG industry. All previous Strategy with RS posts can be found here.