Elon Musk: Ask the right questions to succeed in business
Polarizing as he may be, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has remained significant in the public eye over the past few years, and he’s spoken countless times and different ways on the factors that brought him to this point. Among the most important of them, Musk says, is identifying the questions worth asking.
Photo: Daniel Oberhaus / Flickr
Musk’s focus on asking and answering the right questions has played a major role in the Tesla CEO’s success, as recently reported by Inc.com. With the billionaire’s net worth floating around $200 billion, even critics have to admit that a few different factors put Musk in that position, and his business savvy is definitely one of them.
Beyond being a founder of both Tesla and SpaceX, Musk’s brands have increased mainstream awareness of both EVs, a necessary step forward for the climate, and for space exploration, a huge and growing industry, for lack of a better description.
But asking the right questions is central to Musk’s ethos as a CEO, and he’s revealed this time and time again. Musk’s leadership style has discouraged the chain of command mentality in favor of the free flow of information, and he has used this to encourage anyone to search for the right questions at the right times — a strategy crucial to Musk’s approach.
In a recent TED Talk in Vancouver, Canada, Musk referenced the famous novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, going on to emphasize how important the refinement of questions is.
"Adams makes this point that it's actually the question that is harder than the answer," said Musk.
Currently the auto industry’s biggest disruptor, Tesla has made interrupting the status quo a major part of how Musk expected the automaker to rise to its current position. For example, the introduction of Tesla’s unconventional sales model was at first viewed as a misstep, but now major automakers like Volkswagen, Volvo and Ford are headed in the same direction with online sales and dealership-free delivery methods.
Tesla’s sales model is just one way the automaker has introduced new questions to the auto industry. Another set of questions Tesla sought to find out was how much control it could take over its supply chain, and the answer it has currently found its way to is — a lot. Tesla published its mineral suppliers in recent weeks, showing just how many companies it’s working with globally to secure raw materials for production.
Now, even as Musk prepares to face some tough questions of his own in the public court of scrutiny, his business strategies have opened many a pandora’s box of questions that the auto industry will grapple with in the coming decade.