Three lessons from Tesla CEO Elon Musk

According to Inc.*, the iconic leader of Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA] "Elon Musk is a lionhearted leader with a strong stomach for risk. He revels in thinking big, from inventing an environmentally friendly car to making space travel a reality. Even among fellow entrepreneurs, the scale of Musk's ambition sets him apart from most leaders who tackle the world's biggest problems. His one-hundred-hour work weeks and estimated $11 billion fortune make him the closest thing we have to the fictional superhero Tony Stark, aka Iron Man."

Above: Tesla CEO Elon Musk (Instagram: paul_oskar)

That said, can we learn any lessons from Musk that can be applied to our own business endeavors? Let's take a look at three lessons that can be gleaned from observing Elon Musk in action...

Intelligent Failure

Although Musk exudes supreme confidence, it's important to note that in reality, "He comes from a foundation of deep humility. It's OK to be wrong. It's OK to fail... [Musk] says: 'When starting out Tesla and SpaceX, in both cases, I thought the odds of success were less than 50%... So it's not as though I was convinced that it would all work. I thought, Well, it probably won't work, but it's worth a try because the outcome is important.'" The key is: "how to fail intelligently. The take home message is in uncertain environments stop worrying about the rate of failure because you can afford a lot of failures" — as long as you're constantly learning and it's really worth it.


Above: Musk at the office (Instagram:

Ripple Intelligence

It's crucial to learn how to, "navigate different trends, changes, and contexts that can disrupt an industry or business... Musk has ripple intelligence, which is the ability to see the interactions of business contexts like ripples moving across a pond. He has a vivid imagination, obsessive focus, and deep curiosity about the world and business in particular. He is brave not just in his words but his actions, and he uses ripple intelligence in a systematic way for moving fast. One of the best ways to develop this intelligence is to step outside your normal orbit and have a point of view... [to] help you anticipate hidden opportunities and catch the next big wave before others do."


Above: Elon Musk talking Tesla (Instagram:

Think 10 [x], not 10%

Needless to say, Elon Musk likes to think big. "Most people think about how they can grow by 10% or 20%, not by a factor of 10. Musk's mindset is hardwired to think bigger and bolder, whether it's wiping out malaria in the next ten years or making space tourism a reality. He has an eye on the future and can spot an unmet opportunity quickly before others." How can you apply this thinking? "Get started, have a clear destination, fail fast, test ideas lightly and often, and know that those who think 10 [x] hold two beliefs: (1) problems can't be solved with yesterday's thinking, and (2) you have the resources to achieve your goals."


Above: The rise of Elon Musk in 60 seconds (Youtube: CEO Middle East)

Will these lessons turn you into Iron Man overnight? Of course not. But, it may be helpful to question your own way of thinking and adopt a few traits from Tesla's Elon Musk. Inc.* concludes: "What future are you prepared to commit to? It's not easy to close the door and jump into the unknown, bringing your boldest self to your biggest challenges. Embrace Musk's mindset of continual learning and curiosity about the world and keep starting until you really start."


*Source: Inc.