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Learning from Elon Musk on his b-day

Love him or not, in many ways Elon Musk is the modern equivalent of Thomas Edison. To many people, he is the personification of innovation. Tomorrow is his birthday, so it's a great time to explore how he can inspire us to be more innovative.

By Maurizio Pesce from Milan, Italia (Elon Musk, Tesla Factory, Fremont (CA, USA)) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Look at some of the businesses he founded and projects he kicked off:

  • Zip2

  • (later to merge and become PayPal)

  • SpaceX

  • Tesla

  • SolarCity

  • Hyperloop

  • The Boring Company

Not a bad run. It helped him land as #21 on the Forbes list of The World's Most Powerful People last year and amass more than $15B in wealth.

The crazy thing: He hasn’t personally authored a lot of patents as one would expect. So… what makes him a great innovator?

I believe Musk is exceptional because he:

  • Combines technologies with new business models

  • Addresses emerging needs (AKA big hairy challenges)

  • Does a great job of telling (and selling) his story

The takeaways for us mortals: Don’t equate invention with innovation; meeting important challenges by combining solutions and making them available in new ways doesn’t always require new “widgets”. Solutions don’t gain traction on their own merit; affecting change requires persuasion. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to add a bit of quirkiness.

This reinforces my belief that innovation and persuasive storytelling have a deep, native link.

What are you doing to foster both in your organization?

If you don't have an answer, give me a shout. I'm always happy to discuss and point you toward the resources you need.

#Genius #DoAmazingThings #BigHairyChallenges #Quirk #Hero

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