15 Personality traits of Elon Musk

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Written by BusinessAlligators Support

Support Staff at BusinessAlligators is a team of business experts led by Shilpi Singh Trusted by over 100K readers worldwide.

March 28, 2017

Elon Musk, the CEO of private space transport company SpaceX and leading electric car company Tesla, is the real life inspiration behind Tony Stark’s character. Well, if you have watched the movie Iron Man, you might be familiar with the character Tony Stark and can easily relate that Musk is probably the closest real-life person to Tony Stark. In short Elon Musk is the Real Iron Man.

Elon Musk is among those top entrepreneurs who have a vast impact on the latest technology trends and are in the news almost every day for their new innovations. It is not unusual that one day you will see him in the news for Tesla Motors and the other day you will be watching him celebrating the achievements of SpaceX.

As an entrepreneur, it was not easy for Elon Musk to achieve this success. It was just a few years ago when he was struggling in his personal and professional lives and had nothing in his bank accounts. But with his continuous dedication and hard work he achieved success and is sure to achieve much more.

Now let’s have a look on Elon Musk’s personality traits and characteristics that make him the most intellectual entrepreneur of the century alive, after Steve Jobs.

1. Elon Musk- An INTJ Entrepreneur

Elon Musk’s personality makes him an INTJ (Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judgement) type of entrepreneur as he is an unemotional person and looks beyond what is visible. He happens to find a way to improve his surroundings. An INTJ personality type entrepreneur works for future improvement, consciously and unconsciously. He is brilliant, but he leads an unbalanced life with long working hours which is also a sign of an INTJ. An INTJ focuses on one thing with incredible depth of perception and focus, which is another personality trait present in Elon Musk. One eminent personality trait of Elon Musk that makes him an INTJ is that he never budges from his mission. No matter what the obstacle is, he never gives up.

2. Never Say Die Attitude

Elon Musk is exceptionally motivated and self-driven and there is absolutely no doubt in it. Unlike any other ordinary man who would have given up, he displayed outright determination to continue and keep moving forward through all disparities even after three launch failure attempts of the SpaceX rocket. Even when the Tesla Motors failed to achieve the production deadline for its first Tesla Roadster, the company was near to bankruptcy and one of the directors refused to fund anymore in order to fail Elon Musk and take his position. But Elon Musk did not give up by this. He found the investors and fought back. He even put all his stakes on the mortgage to avoid the bankruptcy.

Elon Musk has a clear idea of what he wants and is wholeheartedly driven to do the right thing in achieving what he desires. His status quotient is not at all botheration for him. His conviction to overcome challenges lobbyists is exceptional. He is imminently motivated and pushes himself to the limits. His never say die attitude gives him the ability to “stick with it.”

3. Proved that Serial Entrepreneurship Can Bring Success

Elon Musk proved us that serial entrepreneurship is not a bad idea at all, but only if done properly. Through his company PayPal, he showed us to make payments within seconds, and thus entirely modifying worldwide ecommerce. Then PayPal got acquired for $1.5 billion, and Elon Musk being the largest shareholder of the company, made $165 million. The space industry was moving at a very slow pace until Elon Musk’s next company SpaceX came along. He invested his money from PayPal into SpaceX. SpaceX built spaceships at a very low cost as compared to NASA’s spaceships costs. Tesla electric cars have also started alluring the customers and are likely to become more cost effective in the coming years. Solar City, Elon Musk’s latest venture which has started developing solar cells and solar panels, has the potential to be the largest electricity provider in America.

Elon Musk is also credited with the creation of Zip2, which was the predecessor of Google Maps. His latest idea of Hyperloop, according to which we can travel a particular distance in 35 minutes which distance presently is covered in 6 hours by a car, is taking everyone by surprise. He has already implemented a version of this in California. Although he postulated the idea of Hyperloop but he is not developing a commercial Hyperloop of its own. Instead, he has been organizing various competitions to encourage students and engineers to develop their own test prototypes. To help them, SpaceX has also built a 1-mile test track in California.

Through these various projects in different fields, he has demonstrated that being a serial entrepreneur can be real fun and rewarding. The only take here is that you should have the ideas and the courage to implement those ideas.

4. Elon Musk has Insane Work Ethics

Elon Musk is a hardcore workaholic person. He believes that there is no shortcut to success. He works for 100 hours a week and has been doing so for over many years. Elon Musk is undoubtedly the hardest working employee of the company and has set standards for his colleagues to achieve. He once said,

If other people are putting in 40 hours in a week, and you’re putting in 100, you will achieve the target in four months, what it takes others a year to achieve.

He doesn’t take a lunch break of even 30 minutes. Instead, he combines it with meetings and emails to maximize the productivity at work.

He is always prepared and always comes with complete homework. When Elon Musk set foot in the space and aeronautics industry, most industry giants considered him as one of those many millionaires who wants to spend some money on their hobby to fail only. But Elon Musk was different and he proved them wrong. He entered the industry not just with full preparations but also with clear goals and targets. And now he is redefining the standards there.

5. Always Aims for Bigger Picture

Elon Musk has targeted exceedingly challenging obstacles that have been the cause of misery for mankind since the inception. He has selected three major areas, namely space, clean energy and the internet. Elon Musk wants to make a big difference in these core areas. He is ready to take big risks in each of these fields and has no particular short-term gains in sight. There was a time when no one believed in his ideas and people started saying that he will drown all the money of investors. But this did not get his spirits down. He believed in himself and proved to be successful. Over the coming 10–20 years, he is targeting to place a man on Mars and wants to retire on Mars with 80,000 other colonists! He says,

I’d like to die on Mars, just not on impact.

His goal setting skills are legendary. Elon Musk puts his heart and soul into achieving those goals.

Elon Musk’s idea of trying to repair real world problems that can improve thousands of lives for the better is exceptional and truly motivating. He is a businessman who genuinely wants to change humanity. It is very rare that we come across a business leader who is concerned about the mankind as a whole and wants to analyze how technology can change the world that we live in.

6. Redefined the Conventional Ways of Working

With a century-long history established competitors, and a business model that has changed very little, automotive industry seems like the last industry a startup with an unconventional product would attempt to enter. But this was before Elon Musk and Tesla Motors made a bold entrance into this market with an unconventional product. It had a very different business model and it had to face a lot, from skepticism to legal challenges. But that did not stop Elon Musk from redefining the conventional ways of working.

Space and aeronautics industry was also following the centuries-old conventions of working. When Elon Musk entered the Space industry, one of the main challenges for his company SpaceX was to challenge the giant companies like Boeing. SpaceX brought with it the idea of reusable rockets. The latest successful landing of the rocket from SpaceX is a big step in this regards. The cost cutting strategies of SpaceX have now become an advantage for them. It has given them a point to compete with the established companies in the industry. Also after this, it is looking feasible for the low-cost passenger flights in the space for the first time.

7. Believes In Hiring Fresh Talent and Trusts Them

We generally listen to the news of “big hiring” in different industries on a regular basis. These big companies hire experienced and big brains in their companies. However, Elon Musk thinks differently in this regard. Elon Musk built his team mainly with the fresh talent for both his companies, SpaceX and Tesla. He even contacts the young and talented engineers himself directly. Once he decides he wants someone, he will go to any extents to hire them. But on the flip side, if you’re not a fit for the team, then you’ll soon know about it. Elon Musk does not tolerate non-workers in his team.

While the inexperienced team can do big mistakes because of the lack of experience, so Elon Musk always gives his best to increase the productivity of team as a counterpart. Elon Musk believes that they still can produce great results with the high amount of energy they have and their dynamic leadership.

8. Works on Ground Level

This personality trait of Elon Musk resembles with Jeff Bezos traits, the founder of Amazon. Elon Musk possesses the ability to think at the system level of design. He knows exactly what he wants and leads a team that is super intense. He is the connection between the market demands and engineers’ interest. Musk seems to be a taskmaster of sorts but his attitude sets the culture of the team. He believes he will know about the better working of his company if he works with them.

Elon Musk gets his hands dirty by working with the engineers on the ground. It is a very rare sight to see a “C-level” person work hand in hand with the junior staff but you are used to such sights if you happen to work with Elon Musk. He himself test-drives the changes to the Tesla cars before it is handed over to the customers. He loves getting into the details of his innovations and according to him, there is no other way of knowing the details than to work the details yourself.

9. Believes in Self-Analysis

Elon Musk believes in self-analysis and critical thinking about oneself. It is difficult to critically think about yourself because you are very close to yourself. He thinks that generally, people do not think critically enough. It is one of the reasons for their failure. They take too many things for granted and be true without enough basis in that belief. So it is extremely important that people carefully analyze the things that are supposed to be true and build it up.

10. Ever Ready to Sacrifice the Galore

Elon Musk believes in what he does. He can go to any extents to make his work possible. Along with everything that Elon Musk does, he really has his skin in the game. He has incurred monetary risk by being involved in achieving his goals. He supports his business empire with unusual financial moves and embodies the prosperities and impoverishments of his own industry.

From personal loans to buying stocks, Elon Musk has provided every sort of help to his ventures, even though he knows that it could be risky. He has invested all his savings in ventures that he has faith in, at the risk of going broke. At the end of 2008, he got a near nervous breakdown on how to keep both Tesla and SpaceX alive when both the companies almost went bankrupt simultaneously. He had the option of saving only one of the companies but rather than saving one and let other one die, he split all his remaining money between both the companies, took a risk and saved both of them. He invested around $100m into SpaceX and $70m into Tesla, and watched both the companies flirt with bankruptcy. In the end, it was a $1.6 billion contract with NASA that saved SpaceX and some new funding of $40 million that saved Tesla from going bankrupt. Elon Musk is never reluctant to make tough decisions and does not compromise on his vision at any cost. He believes that you need to make sacrifices when you really like what you do.

11. Obsessive about Work

Most of the leaders and entrepreneurs have the mindset to just get the things done or accept it is good enough even when it is not. This kind of thinking makes these companies mediocre and less successful. Elon Musk is however, the opposite. He is very passionate about his work. In fact, he is obsessed with it. He treats his work as his oxygen. He devotes nearly every waking hour in his life to shaping his ideas and then executing them.

Elon Musk is obsessed with the smallest of the details. He is known to set extremely high expectations for himself, his products and his team. He pushes himself beyond limits just to achieve the desired perfection. Elon Musk believes that if you strive for excellence and are not ready to settle on mediocrity, then only you will be able to set yourself apart from all those who are willing to play safe and accept well enough.

12. Focuses On Signals and Not On Noise

Elon Musk never invested in advertising Tesla Motors. He preferred investing in research, development, and production of the design in Tesla Motors. He stresses that many businesses get confused after getting hit and deviates their focus from things that make their products and services better.

Elon Musk truly believes that all the efforts that are not resulting in better products or services should be stopped immediately. Such efforts are just a waste of time and in the long run, you will see yourself spending more time in conditioning those efforts just as the same way you spend your precious time in conditioning the noise in the signal.

13. Elon Musk Love his Brand like a Religion

Elon Musk loves Tesla Motors and his other companies. This can be easily inferred from his inspirational TED talks and his undeceptive vision for a sustainable future. He takes his work very personally, and this love for his companies is born from the heart. It has been nurtured into existence and fiercely guarded.

According to Elon Musk, as a successful leader, you need to teach others to love your brand and you can teach others how to treat your brand by the way you treat your brand. If you want others to love your brand, then you first have to love it. If you want your brand to run through the veins of the people, then it has to run through your veins first. His working principle involves pouring his heart into the work which automatically invites people to participate in his vision, and attracts thousands of fans willing to show their love and respect.

14. Elon Musk Love to Celebrate Success

Elon Musk’s this personality trait differentiate him from other legendary businessmen’s like Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffet. He has a very busy schedule. He works for 20 hours a day when everyone else works for 8 hours. But despite such a busy schedule, he always manages to find the time to enjoy the life. He finds the time to celebrate the success with his employees and thank them.

He bought an 1800 square-foot condo and moved there from his apartment when he got his share from the sale of his first startup. Elon Musk used to share the place with three other people. He bought the McLaren F1 car for $1 million and only 62 people had that car at that time and also threw an epic Tesla Q3 celebration party at a soccer stadium in 2016. He thinks changing the world to better humanity is certainly a cause for celebration. Elon Musk did once say

The one thing Tesla is good at is that we throw good parties.

15. Prefers to Be a Rare Breed in Industry

The world now does not require any more new but monotonous companies. It does not need any more “me-too” companies and brands just the way it does not require any other restaurant that serves frozen fried chicken fingers. No, it doesn’t need that. Do not be just another company if you want to succeed, be a rare breed.

Tesla Motors is anti-ordinary. Its online marketplace has become a destination for potential buyers where they can interact about product specifications. They also have video testimonials that far outperform in an industry which is known for being aggressively “salesy.” A research by Pied Piper (consultant and market research firm) named Tesla as a company with the worst car salesmen among all the leading brands. And Elon Musk intends the same. He said for his salespeople,

Their goal and the sole metric of their success is to have you enjoy the experience of visiting so much that you look forward to returning again.

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  1. bamrin

    I really liked it.

    • S.C.

      Well to be fair, he’s much more hardworking than Iron Man does!!

  2. ajay

    such a amazing mindset he had.

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      Agree with you, Ajay.

  3. Abdul quadir Ansari

    Wow,I enjoyed reading this article just as I enjoy watching iron man…. I surely am gonna read this article again and again in future…

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      Thanks for your such nice words 🙂

  4. Shaik Sabah

    Amazing, I really appreciate it, thanks. You n really helped me a lot ?

  5. lewis

    Love you Elon

  6. hollywood

    It is truly amazing what he has achieved.

  7. Joanne Dullen

    I treasure people like Elon Musk. Not many work hard these days and to hear he worked 100 hours was amazing to me. I worked 80 hours for a very long time and it was such a self appreciation knowing I could do it. My company almost wouldn’t hire me as they thought I couldn’t maintain. I did week after week. I love his outlook and I have stock in his company and I love it


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