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Top 10 Elon Musk Quotes about Innovation

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1. “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”

Elon Musk’s primary goal is literally to save the planet through the implementation of greener technology. While other may gawk at the impossibility of changing the entire course of more abundant pollutive tech. Elon Musks creates revolutionary green companies one after the another. Firstly, by creating solar factories that can mass produce solar panels and batteries. Which will aid in transition to more green energy. Secondly, by leading the electric car race as the CEO of Tesla Motors. In fact, Elon Musk opened up all the Tesla Motor patents so other electric car companies can adopt better electric car technology. Thirdly, by creating reusable rockets that drastically reduce the cost of space travel. And by building rockets with the aim of building a base on Mars.

2. “Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.”

People are stubborn being. To many, Elon Musk may seem like an exceptional eccentric genius outlier. However, I argue that Elon Musk may be the only sane visionary. There’s proverb about cutting down the last tree, “When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.” When we realize that the Earth’s resources are finite. Will we finally awake to the atrocities that we committed to the planet’s environment as we cut down the last tree and realize our demise? The alternative to not investing in green technology, is the collective demise of humanity.

3. “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

Building new technology is about trial-and-error. If you’re right all the time, then you’re following another person’s recipe. In order to advance your service you need to become the “chef” and test new ingredients. New wealth is created by innovation and result in diversification of “Stock Keeping Units” (SKU). Not by reusing the same products over and over again. How many soft-drinks do you have at your local supermarket, versus the total diversity of soft-drinks in an remote indigenous tribe.

4. “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.”

An interesting insight into what makes CEO material. Elon Musk is famous for being knowledgeable in various key fields. One anonymous employee from SpaceX recalls that if you mention you can’t do the task, then Elon Musk will take it upon himself and finish the task for you. Elon Musk’s definition of a CEO is a leading engineer. Not a manager.

5. “Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up.”

When does a startup die? According to Paul Graham, a startup dies when the founder gives up. In fact a primary reason Paul Graham invested in AirBnb was because the founders refused to give up. AirBnb was in “Cockroach Mode” for so long, the founders had to survive by selling political themed cereal boxes. Likewise Elon Musk has taken part in great risks to keep SpaceX afloat, even going so far to invest $100 million of his personal money into SpaceX.

6. “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.”

Quantifying your various experiments is a great way to optimize your product development. Theorizing can only take you so far. There are bound to be various unseen errors just waiting to be triggered. By writing down each hypothesis, testing the feature, and logging down the results. Through careful documentation of our feedback loops we were able to determine the most efficient marketing channels were Medium and Reddit, not Quora.

7. “It’s OK to have your eggs in one basket as long as you control what happens to that basket.”

When investing your assets a common phrase is that you have to diversify your assets. In a volatile environment such as the stock market. Diversity is key. But what about an environment you have control over? In order to truly excel in your field you need to invest at least 10,000 to have become a professional. 10,000 hours working with computers to build Windows. 10,000 hours in practicing music to be the Beatles. Is there any room for diversification when gaining mastery in a single field?

8. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to plan to sell a company.”

The current ecosystem of Silicon Valley startups require large amounts of time to acquire venture funding, massive burn-rate to achieve rapid exponential growth, and high valuations for an exit. Venture Capitalists essential make money by increasing the value x10 fold, then selling the company. The question we haven’t been asking is, “Do you really want to sell your startup?” Elon Musk’s vision of a company is not creating value, so VC can sell at a higher value, but creating consistent value.

9. “It is a mistake to hire huge numbers of people to get a complicated job done. Numbers will never compensate for talent in getting the right answer (two people who don’t know something are no better than one), will tend to slow down progress, and will make the task incredibly expensive.”

There’s a common misrepresentation in startups, that a larger company equals to a more highly functioning company. Contrastingly, companies like 37 Signals, GetPocket, and Automattic take pride in their small team that serves thousands of customers. Elon Musk takes the approach of lean and agile teams taking on large problems through rapid experimentation.

10. “People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working.”

A large majority of employees are miserable at their job. We as a culture have become complacent and accepting of this general unpassionate corporate culture. Which is absurd. How well would a soccer team perform if the players were unmotivated, unclear of the goal-post direction, and chronically ill with overworked sleep deprivation? Elon Musk makes sure that every employee at SpaceX knows “why” they’re working at SpaceX. They willingly work overtime because they know that they’re working towards the advancement of humanity.



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