Elon Musk is a sought after personality on and off the internet who has a track record of success with all of the companies he is involved with. That’s a rare feat especially if you’re involved with nine companies (almost) all of which aim at grander visions whose importance by the general public will be realized only in the future. The biography of Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance is a well researched and well written book to learn of him and get inspired. To save your from reading the entire volume or to inspire you to read the volume I am trying to present the summary of the book.
Work SUPER Hard
Anyone could counter this by saying “Work smart” instead but when there are lots of smart people working hard the only way to match or beat them is by working harder. I am losing count of the companies that Musk runs the recent additions being the Solar City, OpenAI, The Boring Company and Hyperloop. He has schedules as tight they can be to hustle through all of them. These companies are not just operating they are (almost) leaders in their respective domains with Tesla valued as the most valuable car company, SpaceX snatching deals that NASA could probably land and so on.
Aim at the stars (literally)
None of the companies that Musk is associated with or has founded are here just for today or making quick cheap cash. They are instead for tomorrow to bring about changes and make impacts that can probably change the course of humans in major ways. SpaceX is about traversing to the stars and making another planet habitable to reduce the risk of human extinction. Tesla and Solar City is about reducing the dependency on traditional or non-renewable source of energy. OpenAI is about creating AI that is friendly to humans. Such grand visions.
Teams that are never too large
Elon has never embarked on any of his ventures alone or even with a team comprised of only handful of people, brilliant or not. When you have a vision that large you should not. He is always expanding his teams as quickly as possible. he does not form a second rate team to realize his first rate visions. Musk is a leader – he leads development efforts in lot many ways – doing technical and managerial works himself wherever possible and having people to do it rest of the times. Of course a person can’t do everything themselves which makes teams of utmost importance.
With Tesla and SpaceX, Musk lowered the barriers to entry in such challenging and expensive business domains through breakthrough innovation and frugal operations. Tesla and SpaceX function 10x brilliantly at 10x less cash than their counterparts like General Motors, NASA, etc. Even then they burn a large cash to carry out their daily operations due to inherent nature of their business. The takeaway lesson is that large companies burn lots of cash and if you’re planning to do start-ups that isn’t there to make quick cash you’ll require lots of cash in deposit.
Expand your horizons
Read extensively, diversely and voraciously. It requires mastery of lots of subjects to run companies that require vertical expertise. Reading books and devouring information his peers, employees helped him become a confident speaker for all the companies that he looks after.
Take risks wherever possible
Musk has made some of the most audacious bets on lots of projects. It’s quite another thing that they ultimately paid off. He invested all of his money that he got from his Paypal sell out to fund Tesla and SpaceX leaving himself (almost) penniless. He’s a billionaire today and he can invest all of it in a compelling project or company. There are really few people who can do this.
Disclaimer : This author is not an expert on either of Musk's companies or Musk himself. He has just read the biography of Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance.