Testing the vision — Elon Musk’s Powerwall presentation

In a time of churning, the best way to make change happen is by inspiring people.

One of the world’s most inspiring leaders is Elon Musk: the founder not only of Paypal but also of Tesla and SpaceX. 

In 2018, as CEO of Tesla, Musk negotiated a $55bn bonus-only pay deal. To earn it he will have to grow the company by $600bn over 10 years. Can he achieve that?

Inner Leadership says that to do so he will need to tell an inspiring story using seven building blocks

To test whether he might achieve that, let’s look at the presentation he gave back in 2015 when he launched the Tesla Powerwall.

At the time, one hardened industry observer called it, “the best tech keynote I’ve ever seen.” But the video reveals that Musk used only six of the seven building blocks that Inner Leadership recommends:

  1. He spoke in a way and in language that was meaningful to his audience:
    Technical at times, he defined customer benefits and used music, lighting, and visual aids that were part of what they expected
  2. He defined the problem he wants to fix:
    Growth in atmospheric CO2
  3. He defined the future he wants to create:
    A fundamental transformation of the way energy is delivered across the Earth
  4. He defined the first steps to get there :
    He talks about “a battery that just works” and calls it “The missing piece” — not the whole journey, the missing piece. Gigafactories are another step.
  5. Musk outlined the higher principles or values that his vision supports and upholds:
    “I think we collectively should do something about this. And not try to win the Darwin Award. For us and a lot of other creatures too.”
  6. And he spoke in his own authentic voice:
    Musk is not as polished a presenter as Steve Jobs but he didn’t try to be anything other than who he is. He achieved all of the above points while being himself, remaining relaxed, joking, and stumbling at times.

He also did a reasonable job of putting the building blocks together into a story.

But one thing he did not do was to ask people to make a choice about whether they would support him.

He did not say,

“Will you place an order for one of these batteries?”

He did not say,

“In whatever work you do, will you help us to make this vision for a renewable future a reality?”

We think that if he had he done so he would have got even better results.

The jury is out on whether or not Elon Musk will earn his bonus..

The point of this article is to say that the only way that he will do so is if he can create $600bn-worth of inspiration. And at the moment there’s a gap.

How inspired do you and the people around you feel about the work you do? What would happen if you changed that?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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