Great Leadership: 10 Elon Musk quotes that provide a glimpse into the DNA of Tesla

Every great company has an ideology influenced by its top leadership. In the case of Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA], CEO Elon Musk provides a guiding light for his hardworking, ultra-talented team. To best understand the Tesla DNA, it's helpful to distill Musk's wisdom from some of his more revealing quotes. Inc. Magazine* reports, "Many people imagine what it would be like to be great someday. They hope to add significance and change the future for the better. There are few of these groundbreaking visionaries in today's world but surely Elon Musk is among them."

Above: Tesla CEO Elon Musk (Instagram: @jakejanz_fineart)

How is Musk a visionary? "He has often been referred to as a thrillionaire... this South African native has impacted the world in game-changing ways. As founder of PayPal, he created a new way of sharing currency. Next was Tesla, finally bringing electric vehicles into mainstream production. And now, off Musk goes into the final frontier with SpaceX, in hopes of settling Mars someday." And soon Musk plans to merge Tesla with America's largest provider of solar power, SolarCity.

Above: Charging a Tesla Model S with power captured by the sun via rooftop solar panels (Image: Counter Steer)

So how does a business icon like Musk create a company ethos for the incredible, dedicated staff at Tesla? Here are ten telling quotes (and one video vignette) that might just provide you with a glimpse into his trailblazing leadership style...

  • 1. "The path to the CEO's office should not be through the CFO's office, and it should not be through the marketing department. It needs to be through engineering and design."
  • 2. "I think it's very important to have a feedback loop, where you're constantly thinking about what you've done and how you could be doing it better. I think that's the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself."
  • 3. "Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product."
  • 4. "I do think there is a lot of potential if you have a compelling product and people are willing to pay a premium for that. I think that is what Apple has shown. You can buy a much cheaper cell phone or laptop, but Apple's product is so much better than the alternative, and people are willing to pay that premium."
  • 5. "Great companies are built on great products."
  • 6. "I don't create companies for the sake of creating companies, but to get things done."
  • 7. "Talent is extremely important. It's like a sports team, the team that has the best individual player will often win, but then there's a multiplier from how those players work together and the strategy they employ."
  • 8. "Really pay attention to negative feedback and solicit it, particularly from friends. Hardly anyone does that, and it's incredibly helpful."
  • 9. "Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80-to 100-hour weeks every week. [This] improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40-hour workweeks and you're putting in 100-hour workweeks, then even if you're doing the same thing, you know that you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve.
  • 10. "The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur."

Above: Of all the videos with biz advice from Musk, this short video — from a rarely seen interview — is an absolute gem (Youtube: Jasur Hasanov)


*Source: Inc. Magazine