Everyone Wants To Be Elon Musk. Here’s How.
If you spend any time on Quora, the question and answer site which I pioneered a version of from 2000-2005 (as I’ve always said – being a futurist is like being a meteorologist, you are usually right, but at the wrong time) you’ll find an inordinate fascination with Elon Musk.
You’ll find questions on everything from his business acumen to his personal habits. You’ll find out when he gets up in the morning and what he eats for breakfast, all the different things he does during the day, (as I’ve said before, if you want to be ultraproductive, you need to schedule your every waking moment – and keep to that schedule) and when he goes to bed.
It’s safe to say that he has now taken up the mantle of “famous-eccentric-rich-guy-that-I-would-really-like-to-be-like” (now that Steve Jobs is no longer available – although many continue to attempt to “Be Like Steve”) with apologies to my personal favorite in that category – Peter Theil (sorry, but you are far too libertarian for Silicon Valley – BTW when are those seasteading ships finally going to launch? I need to buy a berth.)
But I digress.
Musk seems to be able to create new businesses out of the ether as often as we brush our teeth – all based on the latest pet peeve that personally bothers him – love the environment – starts an electric car company – hate flying from SF to LA, imagine the Hyperloop – hate LA traffic, create a company to dig a tunnel from your house to your office (although I have to think that wouldn’t a personal autonomous flying car be easier?) – hate our lack of space travel from the state, build your own space program.
Musk takes whatever is currently bugging him, and literally starts a business to address the problem, not caring about the fact – or lack of fact – that no one else may have that specific problem.
For some reason, he is thought of as a visionary because not only does he see a problem which is bugging him personally, then also comes up with a solution for the problem, which is typically audacious and more often than not, nowhere near currently doable. If you ask me, that is the key: it’s not that he addresses a current problem (which most of the time is one we all have – like traffic) but his solution is either crazy or just crazy undoable right at this very moment. It’s a “solution from tomorrow”
Even if they are undoable right now, you can see that at least they are possible. The key is the “right now”. If you can see how current technologies can evolve into the future, then you can see how Musk’s solutions are possible.
We can’t be Elon Musk if we just emulate the man – we must emulate the big, hairy audacious solutions that he brings to the table. We must take a problem, and then solve it, using not the tech of today, but the tech of the future.
Visionaries in all fields have done this – even the recently deceased Jerry Lewis wasn’t just a comedian, he invented a technique all film directors use today: using a video feed to see what the camera is seeing.
But I digress again – you say that you’d like to be just like Elon Musk? Well then, you need to do the same kind of audacious, future based solutionizing to the problems facing you and your organization. But how? You are only one person and you are likely not even incentivized to be your organizations Elon Musk.
If you truly want to get there – you need to tap that amazing brain-trust in your organization, your own employees. Let them – and tell them – that you don’t want the solutions of today, but the solutions of tomorrow. When you ask for ideas and solutions, not only make it OK to think about future solutions but make it ESSENTIAL. While you may not have single or multiple individuals who can envision bold new future-focused solutions, together, they can move mountains.
Gather their ideas, nurture their solutions, and in no time you may have a full set of Muskian-style solutions to your most pressing problems. You may not personally be like Musk in the end, but at least you’ll be able to get big, hairy, audacious Musk-style ideas out of it.
And that might be just as good.