How to Build Your Own Empire Like Elon Musk
Musk's significant influence comes down to a few key factors.
Elon Musk went from a relatively unknown person in the tech industry to a household name, influencing the world with each social-media post. After he tweeted about Dogecoin, the cryptocurrency soared 1,500 percent. Musk once infamously tweeted "Use Signal," and millions of people jumped ship from popular messaging app WhatsApp to Signal. Signal Advance, a completely unrelated company, also saw its share price boom 12,000 percent after the tweet.
The ability to influence, like Musk, is quite possibly the highest form of power. So how did Musk gain this social power — and what can we learn from him?
Elon Musk’s rise to fame and influence
Musk gained his notoriety over the years via various products and achievements. He became a multimillionaire with the sale of his start-up, Zip2, when he was in his 20s. He went on to co-found X.com, which later became Paypal.
Though he founded SpaceX in 2002, he didn’t begin making headlines until 2012. In May of that year, SpaceX successfully sent the first commercial vehicle into space and to the International Space Station, effectively launching Musk into the spotlight. Here's what makes Musk so influential — and how to follow his blueprint.
He’s a visionary
Elon Musk is known for having and achieving lofty goals. With Zip2, he and his brother Kimball created an online map that showcased nearby businesses. It’s a concept that many of us use in our daily lives today, but was unheard of at the time. With X.com, Musk gave people the ability to transfer money online for the first time in history. This proven track record gives Musk a reputation for not only setting ground-breaking goals, but also achieving them. So, when Musk says that SpaceX will land on Mars in the next 15 years or that Tesla will come out with a flying car, we believe him.
No matter your industry, you must differentiate yourself. You should be bringing new ideas to your craft. Set goals, achieve them and prove that you are a visionary in your field.
He’s a master of his craft
It’s no wonder Musk has been able to accomplish his objectives: He’s made it his life’s work to master technology. At age 10, he began studying computers, and by 12, he had created and sold a computer game. In college, he studied business, physics, energy physics and economics. With that foundational knowledge, he has continued to learn and grow throughout his many roles. Musk has spent his entire life learning about technology so he can create better inventions.
Decide on your area of focus and invest in your education. People want to hear from experts, not the average Joe. When you show that you’re serious about your specialty, people will take you seriously.
He’s accessible and shares his journey
In part, Musk’s accessibility is due to the type of work that he does. Since he’s in the technology space, his new projects and advancements are much more likely to be featured in the news. Apart from that, he invites people to be part of his world by connecting directly with them on Twitter. In one study, 65 percent of participants reported feeling strongly attached to multiple celebrities. People want to feel like they know a celebrity — like they have a personal connection. Musk accomplishes this with social media.
If you’re shy about sharing on social media, now is the time to get over it. Sharing your journey and making yourself accessible builds credibility with your followers. Start sharing online today, regardless of your industry.
Elon Musk is a bit odd — and that’s what makes him relatable. He’s made headlines for holding weird earnings calls and for helping an image of a sheep go viral. This shows us two things: He’s imperfect, and he’s dialed into internet culture. Revealing his quirks and flaws makes him relatable to the masses.
As you share your journey online, be honest. No one wants to watch a phony highlight reel. When you show that you’re a person, not just a brand, people will be more likely to invest in what you have to say.
He has good intentions
Musk has famously noted that in college, he contemplated what he wanted to dedicate his life’s work to. Ultimately, the vision he had for himself was to “enable the future of humanity.” That’s a noble intention, and what’s more, Musk seems to be doing just that. From his solar power company to Tesla’s electric-powered cars, Musk is pushing hard to give people the resources needed to finally ditch fossil fuels. While it’s great to be entrepreneurial and have financial goals, having a strong moral foundation to back those goals is key to getting buy-in from others.
Figure out your “why” — why do you have the business goals that you do? What deeper intentions are driving your actions? How will what you’re doing today leave the world a better place? When you have an answer, share it. People who are interested in something deeper than financial goals are much more intriguing.
Elon Musk’s influential prowess is the culmination of several things: incredible knowledge accompanied by larger-than-life goals, a willingness to share and an openness about his flaws. He’s positioned himself as a well-liked thought leader, and that has made all the difference.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor