How to truly Innovate like Elon Musk?

Innovate like Elon Musk

When Microsoft first came out with the notion of windows, it failed to generate any waves. The first version released in 1985 to little or no hype at all. Even though the coming years didn’t see the fate of Microsoft any better, but moving from 1980’s to 1990’s, we see that Microsoft Windows carved an indispensable niche and became a household necessity, not just an alien invention that was best left to its own devices.

The initial success of Microsoft is credited to Bill Gates, since for the first five years, Gates used to shrewdly scrutinize and edit each line of code himself. A true leader! A similar story follows the unparalleled success of Steve Jobs. The people who have interacted with him label him as being laser-focused on his vision, and equipped with exceptional leadership qualities. We see how Job’s single-mindedness and unflinching commitment turned the blueprint of Apple!

If someone else deserves all the accolades due Gates and Jobs in the current era, Elon Musk would take the lead. Musk has achieved so much in a short span of time that it seems almost inconceivable. 80% of the problems solved by Elon Musk relate to design and the realm of engineering.


Every successful person follows certain personality traits that make them stand a head taller than the rest. Elon Musk has also followed a pattern. The good news is that I was able to crack the code. Here is the hidden programming that works Elon Musk:

Focus on the details

The most successful people have a tunnel vision of their success. Their laser-focus is what makes them successful. The assumption is that all the big people are either putting out the fire or dealing with big problems with negotiation. What most people don’t know is the effort it takes to make all the difference.

In this era of high-frame distractions, it is often difficult to do all the things yourself. In fact, people often ignore the small things that go a long way. Just like Bill Gates, Elon Musk took the liberty to pore over everything in detail. In Musk’s biography, Ashlee Vance highlights her level of focus by showing a letter that Musk sent to all the employees at SpaceX.

“It was a warning about the increasing use of acronyms that he had observed. Musk felt that this was getting out of hand and that it could potentially lead to inefficiencies in their communication structures if they kept creating new words and new meanings in their interactions.”

Keeping in mind that Elon Musk works 80-100 hours a week, but still, he took out the time to address a minor problem that the company was facing.

The Grand Vision

When you ponder over a company as grand as Tesla, Apple, or Google, you feel something. Even though Microsoft has lost its initial charms, but back in the days, they too had an association with innovation. Gates foresaw the grand vision of 20 years, and moved forward. If you compare this with an average company, you might see a notable difference. And that difference is not about the marketing, or the slogan, or the logo, it is about the vision that aligns with the company.

At each product launch, you could see in Job’s eyes that he wasn’t just talking to the crowds. Whether you have attended the product launches or not, you know that Apple did everything that fortifies their grand Vision. Steve Jobs knew where he was, and he was taking Apple to that vision.

Coming back to the present day, you could see the same passion and vigor in the product launch events of Elon Musk. He might not have Steve Job’s charms nor his ornate public speaking skills, but Musk does talk with his heart when he talks about Mars.

Today, if you look at any of Musk’s interviews or product launches, you see a similar pattern unfolding. He’s not quite the public speaker that Jobs was, but it’s evident that when he talks about taking humanity to Mars, it is all a part of something far bigger. The secret ingredient here is the strategic imagination


The Unimaginable Power of the Shaper Effect

Ray Dalio, in his brilliant book, Principles, talks about myriad success factors and what separates Gates, and Musk from other leaders. He dubs them as shapers. Shapers are leaders who are strategically & tactically astute in their decisions. To put it in a nutshell, shapers are just as effective when it comes to managing the low-level implementation as they are with a higher-level vision that guides them in navigating the process.

“Effective achievement is best harnessed by finding harmony in opposites.” ~Ray Dalio

Wait. What? You might be thinking that you can only succeed if you are a shaper. Not necessary. But, as they say. If you want to go somewhere where other people have visited, it is often wise to learn from them.

Regardless of wherever you are working, be it as a struggling Entrepreneur who is willing to survive, or a founder of a well-established brand that is trying to expand, or even as a high-level manager who is aspiring to solicit a promotion, you can walk the shoes of Gates, Jobs, or even Elon Musk if you follow these habits.

The result? You accomplish things most people don’t even dream about.