Elon Musk’s Secret for Success

Athenus Institute for Excellence

Elon musk is a house hold name for many Entrepreneurs. He is a huge success story, a rags to riches story and an inspiration to many. Most people when heard of his life first would be blown away by the things he achieved at relatively Young age.  The biography of Elon Musk is written by Ashlee Vance, which is a wonderful read. He captures the essence of what Elon Musk is and how he thinks? The month of April started for me with this Biography book and I am very engaged with it. I always try to find the common patterns or habits of people who are successful while I am reading Biographies of great people in business, Politics and sports. Through half-way of the biography of Elon Musk, I find this one point very interesting and I haven’t seen it in any other business man other than Steve jobs. I think that is Elon musk’s one secret to his success.


Shoshin is a Japanese zen word, which means “Beginner”. It is not tough to have Shoshin mind-set, when you know very little about something and start doing it. But for a person who is well read, well informed and highly intelligent, it is almost impossible to have this Shoshin mind-set. Elon musk has it, so did Jobs. Steve jobs was a pioneer, creator. He taught us how to value up your products. When everyone is selling mobile phones for 40 to 70 $, Apple is selling it at 999$. How is it possible? The thing that meets the common man’s eye is the product design and the presentation they give at the annual event. But the real secret is to whom they sell it. Steve Jobs has built a community for his products.

Starting from Apple 2, he has done one thing different from others and by that one thing he has created a community for his product and separated them from the rest of the crowd. If I Phone are selling at that rate, that’s because people feel proud to be the part of that community. Did you know it was Apple who came up with white head phones first, when everybody was giving that in Black color? When two people in metro with white headsets see each other, an immediate bonding happens there. That is the power of community. Steve jobs with his Beginners mind set thought, how can I sell it for a higher price and thus created the new idea of selling to a community and scale up the value.

Musk’s Shoshin:

Elon musk after building two successful companies, Zip2 and x.com. He ventures into something very dramatic. He found Tesla INC. by 2003 and committed to make pollution free commutations in US of A. That was a revolutionary move but that was dwarfed by another company found by the same person in 2008. The SpaceX which promises commercial rockets for space tours. Now let’s see how this Shoshin mind set has played a role. When Musk, started SpaceX he was already a multi-millionaire. He had deep and profound understanding on how things work, both in physical world and in cyber world.

But when he started the design for his first rocket, he said to his men, “let’s all forget everything we know about rockets and start by asking few fundamental questions”. This lead to a dramatic business process that has helped SpaceX to produce 90% of the materials they need to make a rocket. Many people may be aware that Boeing too now have a space program. They have more than 12000 suppliers. Because of this SpaceX promises an outer space trip for 60 million dollars and the same trip would cost around 300 million with Boeing.

So if you are looking for a huge success, it is imperative to have this Shoshin mind set.

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