The South-African native, Elon Musk was born on June 28, 1971. At the age of 17, he moved to Canada for college and to escape his duty to serve in the army. Shortly after, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania and has been in the U.S. since. In 2009, the entrepreneur sold his first company called X.com which he founded in his 20’s in 1999. X.com today is Paypal, which Musk sold in 2002. The self made man is worth $22.8 billion and the twenty fourth richest man in the world. Musk wants to revolutionize transportation both on Earth and in space. His goal in finding Tesla was to bring fully-electric vehicles to the mass market for an affordable price. In 2002, he founded Space X and the following year in 2003, he founded Tesla Motors. Currently, Musk divides his time between Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company.
Today Musk is the CEO, chairman and project architect at Tesla. Musk is involved in the day to day operations at Tesla. He ensures that all Tesla products and their development are up to standard and overseas the engineering and design. Despite Musk’s busy schedule, he ensures time to meet with the design team each week for a few hours. Musk is meticulous and pays attention to every detail at Tesla. He has an incredible work ethic that enables him to manage three companies while only getting an average of four hours of sleep per night. Musk leads a healthy lifestyle by eating well and staying in shape. Because Musk travels a lot between all of his projects, he uses a spreadsheet to records all of his meetings and flights and analyzes it at the end of the year. Time management is very key for Musk. Musk pays attention to detail in his work and personal life which is a testament to how the company is run.
Tesla would not be the company it is today without Musk. On September 27, 2019, the US Securities and Exchange Commision sued Musk for false and misleading statements. The SEC’s goal was to ban Musk the ability to serve on the board of any private company. The SEC claims that Musk tweeted false information that said he had the ability to take Tesla private and had secured funding and investor support. This was a deceiving tweet for shareholders. The SEC requested that Musk step down as chairman of the board but he declined. Once the lawsuit with the SEC began, Tesla’s stock dropped 14%. This was detrimental to Musk who is the company’s largest shareholder and lost $1.6 billion. Investors choose to invest their money in Tesla for many reasons but clearly Musk’s leadership is a key reason. Musk is transparent with all investors and if known for often discouraging people from investing in Tesla. Musk said, “We have no interest in satisfying the desires of day traders. I couldn’t care less. Please sell our stock and don’t buy it.” Musk is not afraid to speak his mind, he is a leader and not a follower.
Musk is a visionary genius but is also known for having erratic behavior which is an issue because as Gene Munster, a managing partner of the venture-capital firm Loup Ventures said, “The SEC is about order and rules. And Elon often operates as if he’s above the law.” This case proved that Musk is the backbone of Tesla as he is involved in every decision the company makes. Musk is not just the CEO but he the face of Tesla and has unchecked power. Musk’s eccentric personality is Tesla’s best public relations. Musk does whatever he feels, he is known for questioning the status quo and engaging in mass dialogue. This is intriguing for people in the business world, who are used to robotic personalities. Musk wants to eliminate the uniformity in business. Kim Scott, a former executive at Google and Apple says that Musk is “refreshingly candid… he is not afraid to be himself.” Musk uses humor with his employees and investors. With big risks, Musk seems successful in doing so. Investors, shareholders and executives at Tesla often tell Musk to avoid Twitter conflits and shift his focus to creating profitable cars.
Musk made Tesla into a company which competed with Ford in the market. Credit to Musk’s efforts, Tesla is the most successful U.S. automotive company in over a century. Musk has his meeting style down to a science. One, he requires that everyone is prepared. Musk expects a standard of research and knowledge that all attendees at the meetings know they must be uber prepared. Two, he reduces everything to basic facts. Musk is a firm believer in “First Principles,” the principle of breaking down a complicated problem into many parts and then, reconfiguring it. This reasoning from first principle originated from Aristotle. Musk says, ““I think people’s thinking process is too bound by convention or analogy to prior experiences. It’s rare that people try to think of something on a first principles basis. They’ll say, “We’ll do that because it’s always been done that way.” Or they’ll not do it because “Well, nobody’s ever done that, so it must not be good. But that’s just a ridiculous way to think. You have to build up the reasoning from the ground up—“from the first principles” is the phrase that’s used in physics. You look at the fundamentals and construct your reasoning from that, and then you see if you have a conclusion that works or doesn’t work, and it may or may not be different from what people have done in the past.”” Musks doesn’t rely on previous approaches, he breaks everything down step by step. Thirdly, Musk ensures that everyone keeps the long-term vision in sight at all times. When inventing a new product or launching a new product along the way, there will obviously issues will arise. But, Musks says that feeling discouraged will not help. Rather, he suggests always remembering that eventually you will be successful and keep that as your guiding direction. Musk believes the key is to keep moving forward and not look back. Lastly, Musk says not to expect more at the meetings or from anyone else than you are actually doing yourself. No one should think they are working the hardest. Musk’s staff knows that he is as dedicated to the meeting than they are, he does not believe that he is above anyone else at the meeting.
Musk takes a hands on approach. This attitude keeps Tesla employees on their toes because they know they always need to be putting in their best efforts and nothing be overlooked or unnoticed. Musk said, “I always move my desk to wherever – well, I don’t really have a desk, actually. I move myself to wherever the biggest problem is in Tesla… I really believe that one should lead from the front lines, and that’s why I’m here.” Musk is known for answering questions on Twitter himself when people have customer service issues. Tesla is not a hierarchy and Musk does not feel is above any issue that arises in the company.
Musk prides himself on having meetings in which are innovative, engaging and productive. However, not all managers like Musk’s intense style of running meetings. Musk manages Tesla in a very strict way which is seen as efficient to some and micromanaging to others. Tesla has been known to have a lot of employee burnout because of its low- trust environment. Tesla employees do not have freedom to start new projects they want.
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