NOTE: This post was pulled from a previously-run post from the Uber-blog (originally published July 14, 2015). I’m bringing it back because it compliments the recent blog and newsletter content I’ve been creating and sharing with you on brand storytelling. I’ve expanded it too with a new recommended read to help you be successful with your storytelling for your business and brand. Enjoy!
I’ve just finished Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, by Ashlee Vance, on Audible. Musk is probably, in my view, one of the boldest entrepreneurs in the game today. The book is a good read for people like us for many reasons. But as an entrepreneur who literally devours business books and books on entrepreneurs, this was a must read for me (a lengthy read, but a must read or listen). It’s also an exceptional example of storytelling. Reading this over your holiday break will inspire you as an entrepreneur and give you a great example of story structures to use in marketing your business.
The nine-plus hours of audio unveils both stout research and drama woven together to paint a portrait of a man who literally is his businesses (first was PayPal, then Tesla Motors, SpaceX, Solar City). Vance does an incredible job with the storytelling – it’s a page turner!
Here are some key takeaways from the book to help us all be stronger entrepreneurs. I’ll follow that up with an additional resource that will help you identify the story structures that were used in the Elon Musk biography.
Here are the top three takeaways that only Elon Musk can teach us as entrepreneurs (my opinion, of course):
1 – Be relentless about making your success vision a reality
Musk certainly doesn’t think small. If he’s successful, humans will be interplanetary beings, and we’ll also save ourselves by adopting new energy technologies and new ways of considering legacy industries such as automobiles or space exploration. Musk is after saving the world and the human race. He’s built and lost fortunes along the way, and he’ll keep doing so until he brings his vision to reality. What are you going after in terms of making a difference and an impact with your business? Don’t let anything stand in your way!
2 – Make decisions and make them quickly – then, don’t change your mind
Throughout the book, people from all of Musks’ businesses remarked that he made decisions with speed and did not waver from his decisions. I have a good friend who is also a consultant who uses the military approach to teach this to his clients: OODA. It stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. Decision-making is tough and can be downright scary sometimes, but not as scary as what can happen when you don’t make a decision. That’s catastrophic to a business. Make the decision and commit to it. Learn from it along the way and adjust if needed, but the important part here is to decide and go with it.
3 – Take risks
All of us know that risk-taking is one of the toughest parts of being a founder and business owner because we shoulder 100% of the risk. Even with funding strategies, there’s still responsibility and management of risk of other people’s (or your bank’s) money. To get comfortable with taking risks and growing you have to kick fear to the curb (which I know can be huge at times). Do this by staying focused on your vision. Connect with your vision and the emotion you feel behind the success you want to achieve in your business every day. Remember how stoked you were when you were just about to launch? You had ironclad faith that your company was indeed viable. Keep that vision and belief front and center daily and use it to keep you hovering above daily mishaps and challenges (we all have them) not in them. This long-term success vision will make it easier to take on and shoulder risks as a business owner.
Ashlee Vance did an amazing job weaving together Elon Musk’s stories, no easy feat. Musk has launched multiple game-changing businesses. Vance used many story trigger mechanisms to accomplish this. Which brings me to my next book recommendation (they kind of go together, I think).
Want to know a secret resource that many marketing geniuses use as they’re building out their brand stories? The book Influence: Science and Practice, by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D., is just that. … It’s not as much of a page turner as Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk book, but it’s stocked full of heaps of tips and story structures that are hard wired into our DNA (that means that they’ll work). I would read the Elon Musk book first, then Influence – you’ll literally see a number of Dr. Cialdini’s story structures in play in the Musk book….
Until next time, go BIG!