If something is important enough you should try, even if the probable outcome is failure.
„Since some time now, he amazes professionals, incites wonder in everyday people, and enthusiasm among investors when he tweets and speaks about his projects.“
The German newspaper “Die Zeit” once referred to him as “Musk the genius”. It was meant as a sarcastic remark, but maybe he really is one.
„And yet, Elon Musk seems to be somewhat shy at first glance, and insecure, apprehensive, if not downright modest when he speaks to his audience about his visions. Similar to Sir Richard Branson, British multi-billionaire and owner of the Virginempire(Virgin Records, Virgin Store, Virgin Atlantic – Express & Blue Airlines, Virgin Atlantic Challenger II, Virgin SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Racing, Virgin Oceanic, Virgin Trains, Virgin Fuel …) he loves to put old paradigms to the test. But unlike his peers, he prefers to shy away from media attention for his David & Goliath-like undertaking. He maintains a simple, understated appearance. And what really sets him apart from the rest: He devotes the whole of his knowledge and abilities to foresight in solving core issues of our planet in the 21st century. The creation and use of renewable energies and life on earth.
His previous ventures have shaken up entire industries, and the capital to make it happen came from the sale of PayPal to eBay in 2002. He has democratized the energy supply (SolarCity), electrified mobility (Tesla), economized flights to Mars (Space X)and reduced transport time (Hyperloop). He’s drawn out his visionary power from the need for recognition, and thus the ego. Hanging on the wall in his office, and mounted on large boards are the front page of WiredandInc. magazine, and a long series of photos from Vanity Fair. The motif is always the same: Elon Musk, the genius.’“
Nevertheless, what makes him unique is that he uses his abilities for the service of society. It is his excellent technical understanding and holistic visions, paired with an outstanding business sense, which helps him to find solutions to the pressing issues of our society on a daily basis. That’s why he calls California home – it boasts the eighth largest economy in the world, and therefore, it’s the perfect breeding ground. A cool environment with the business sense and technology (Apple, Intel, Oracle, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo) to help him find answers to pressing problems in energy and mobility. For him, it’s more than evident, like for many others, that oil is a finite resource that causes enormous climate related problems and sends off smog alarms in megacities, not to mention the long term health problems. Now he’s doing something about it. For Elon Musk, the highest environmental requirements for mobility in California arrived just in time. „In 1990, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), called for a “zero-emission Program”. This program requires auto companies to produce a certain percentage of zero emission vehicles (ZEV) in California, at least two percent by 1998 (…) and at least 18 percent by the year 2018 of all newly registered cars.“
He’s not driven by the big show or a grand performance. He examines technological challenges for sustainable solutions on our planet. He’s not a dreamer, but an obsessive engineer who sees his visions in a pragmatic light. He is known as someone who wants to make all of the decisions. He doesn’t like compromises, and he doesn’t show any feelings. „He has this to say about himself „I’m a hardcore Atheist. Fairy tales are for children.“ (Kohlenberg 2009) „Maybe it’s his introverted manner that allows Musk to win over the big players in the automobile industry. Engineers dominate this branch, but Musk is a natural scientist. He speaks the language of technicians, and can talk shop about energy coefficiency or thermodynamics.Even Akio Toyoda has apparently succumbed to Musk’s standoffish, boyish charm. The two met over breakfast at Musk’s villa in Bel Air for the first time in April. The planned one-hour meeting turned into a whole day, according to “Wired” magazine. The head of the world’s biggest automaker raced around the 405 Freeway in Musk’s Roadster, and Musk showed Toyoda his rocket launch video clips. They promised to keep in touch.“ (Hillenbrand 2012) The staff at SpaceX says that what really makes Musk stand out is that he has no apparent fear of failure. “But I think I do have a little fear”, says Musk.”I think what they meant was that I encourage everyone to take risks.” He likes taking risks, and testing his limits, especially with his McLaren F1 – whose speed reaches up to 243 miles an hour – or with his Aero L-39 Czech fighter jet. His cousin and SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive once said: „A normal workaholic is sober compared to Elon.“ (Klooß 2013)
What about Elon Musk is interesting to integral consciousness?
It’s the type of vision. It’s not just about outstanding technological achievements, but it also quite clearly has to do with fundamental questions of humanity, and he shows his abilities in service of this task. The possibility that the motivation comes from an egotistical pursuit of recognition only makes him more human and real. In any case, he pays an immensely high price by not being able to watch his five children grow up, working 100 hours a week, and already going through two divorces, having the need to “have to” do everything, decide, represent, manifest, and help to make breakthroughs with all the financial, technical, and time resources that he has.
 Klooß, K. (2013): SpaceX, Hyperloop. Die Welt von Elon Musk, Manager Magazin Online from 8/13/.2013, download at https://www.manager-magazin.de/unternehmen/industrie/spacex–hyperloop-die-welt-des-elon-musk-a-916336.html
 Hillenbrand, T. (2012): Tesla-Chef Elon Musk. Der Renaissance-Mann, Manager Magazin online from 11/17/2010, download on 8/12/2013 at https://www.manager-magazin.de/lifestyle/auto/a-729412.html
 Kohlenberg, K. (2009) >> Der Mann, der zu Mars will <<, Zeit online from 6/19/2009, download on 8/12/2013 at https://www.zeit.de/2009/02/DOS-Raketenmann/komplettansicht
 Pander, J. (2012): Mobilitätswandel: Wie Kalifornien der Autowelt die Trends diktiert, Spiegel online from 11/30/2012, download on 8/12/2013 at https://www.spiegel.de/auto/aktuell/strenge-abgasvorschriften-kalifornien-setzt-in-der-autoindustrie-die-trends-a-868966.html
weekly excerpt from the book THE NEXT WAVE IN BUSINESS
wishing you an inspiring week
yours, Stefan Götz+