The Elon Musk Method – A 3-Part Bulletproof Self Promotion Strategy
You are your own personal brand.
Everything you do, everything you say, and everything you stand for, highlights the way you present yourself to the world around you.
Your words, your actions, your dreams, and your aspirations are all parts of this abstract element usually referred to as your personal image.
And this image, fortunately, or unfortunately, is the key to your personal and professional success in today’s highly competitive environment.
Take me for example. Who am I? I am Adrian, a 31-year-old guy from Athens, Greece who likes to write about various topics, run companies and live an examined life. I am the proprietor of “The Quintessential Mind,” an online hub that focuses on holistic thinking and personal development.
I am curious, ambitious but also easy going and considerate. That’s what you know because that’s how I present myself to you. Based on that, you draw your own conclusions and evaluate my personal image.
But enough with me for now. I still have a lot of areas to improve and many miles to cover in my personal-development journey.
Let’s examine a person who is a hotter name than me and has actually achieved things one wouldn’t even think of attempting in the first place.
This person is Elon Musk.
Elon is probably the hottest entrepreneur in almost every industry combined at the moment and his name is used as a reference to terms like self-made, innovation and change.
Some of his endeavors include:
- A mass-market electric car that goes 0-60mph in 2.8 seconds.
- A tube that can transport people and cars from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 35 minutes.
- Reusable rockets superior to anything NASA can build.
- Colonizing Mars.
Some people call him the real-life Iron Man and his life is a great story filled with drama, adventure, fun, success, and failure as described in “Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is shaping our Future.”
If you happen to watch his interviews, however, he looks like a chilled dude who just came from a baseball game with his son.
The thing is that in every case there is more than meets the eye.
And that’s the ultimate goal of successful personal branding. Reaching a point where you look like a chilled dude and everyone else does the talking for you.
So, in my attempt to unravel the secret behind Elon Musk’s effective personal branding strategy, I identified three major parts that showcase the way he does it.
Self Promotion Part 1 – Know your ultimate goal and communicate it effectively
In a post drafted in the Tesla Motors blog and titled “The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me),” Musk mentions:
“The strategy of Tesla is to enter at the high end of the market, where customers are prepared to pay a premium, and then drive down market as fast as possible to higher unit volume and lower prices with each successive model.”
This is his ultimate goal.
At the end of the of the post he also suggests the plan to reach that goal:
“So, in short, the master plan is:
- Build sports car
- Use that money to build an affordable car
- Use that money to build an even more affordable car
- While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options
Don’t tell anyone.”
Long story short, Tesla’s first commercial car was Tesla Roadster, an electric sports car that was priced at $109,000 and could accelerate from 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds.
Musk knew that the electric cars market was not mature yet and that targeting his cars to the masses would be a big mistake. Therefore, he created a “cool” electric sports car that he could sell to high-end customers.
Later on, he used the money to create a more affordable car, Model S and now he is entering probably the final stage of his plan where the market will mature in the following years and he is going to be the most important player in the industry.
Apart from the fact that his plan is exceptional from a strategic standpoint, what matters the most here is the level of transparency and honesty in his plan. This is a great way to help people engage with your image and admire you as a brand.
Now, let me give you an example of how I can use Musk’s strategy to support my brand.
My ultimate goal, for instance, is to become an influential contemporary thinker.
I look up to people like Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, or Peter Joseph and I endeavor to reach their level one day.
This is my vision and my dream and what gives me the energy to do what I do.
Now, in order to reach that I need to become an influencer. I need to properly communicate this message and this vision to my audience through my work.
Obviously, you don’t become an influencer overnight.
You need to spend countless hours hustling, performing and working on your project.
That’s what I do, that’s how I try to inspire you and that’s how I know that slowly but surely one day most of you will look up to me the same way I look up to my idols.
Like Elon Musk, I first focus on projects that give you a taste of what is about to follow.
And through these projects, I try to communicate that the future is an exciting place to be and hope that you will be convinced to be part of this future.
If I had to showcase my plan the same way Musk did, it would look something like that:
- Create a blog
- Use that website to increase your influence over “your people.”
- Create products “your people” need.
- Use the results achieved by your products to further increase your influence.
- Start meeting “your people” and lay the basis for your tribe.
I have already started meeting some of you and I have been impressed by the level of satisfaction I experienced while spending time with you.
At the same time, I have two books helping me follow this trajectory and I am already working on future products.
At the same time, I enhance my personal brand and increase my influence by creating strategic partnerships and guest blogging on other platforms.
My plan is starting to take shape and it feels good.
If you have trouble setting goals and creating a vision for yourself, usually, the adoption of great habits can help a lot. “30 Challenges – 30 Days – Zero Excuses” is ideal for this.
Self Promotion Part 2 – Present yourself in a clear and interesting way
I find it unfortunate to meet people who do an incredibly interesting job and fail dramatically in communicating it in a clear and enchanting way.
A friend of mine is an electrical engineer who works for a big consulting firm.
Whenever people ask him what does he do, he answers: “I am an electrical engineer.”
If Elon Musk would introduce himself to someone who didn’t know him, he would never say I am the CEO of 3 companies.
Yes, it sounds lucrative but it is vague.
He would most probably say something along the lines of: “I am working on three projects. The first includes a mass-market electric car that goes 0-60mph in 2.8 seconds, the second includes a tube that can transport people and cars from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 35 minutes and the third includes colonizing Mars.”
Anyone who would hear that would be juiced up and would love to get to know him better.
This works on a far smaller scale too.
My friend the electrical engineer, for instance, could say: “I am working on a multimillion-dollar project that aims to revolutionize the way companies handle their hiring process.”
Add some excitement to that and the other person is hooked.
Another friend of mine, Ed Latimore, is a personal branding master. He is a boxer and a Physics and Electrical Engineering Dual Major. You know how he presents himself?
Undefeated (9-0) Heavy Weight Boxer From The Steel City.
How can you not be interested in getting to know him better?
As you can see, when it comes to personal branding, all it takes is to focus on your biggest achievement and highlight it in a clear and inspiring way.
Self Promotion Part 3 – Promote your journey and what the future will look like
Everyone that is or wants to be associated with you is often attracted to the same thing: That you are a person who works on something bigger than yourself. That you represent the future. And that future is bright.
Some months ago I attended Pioneers Festival, which is one of the biggest Entrepreneurship festivals in the world.
— Adrian Iliopoulos (@theQSLmind) May 29, 2015
One of the most renowned speakers in the festival was Nancy Duarte who is famous for decoding the secret behind persuasive presentations. She has managed to analyze some of the most successful speeches ever made like the “I have a dream” speech by Martin Luther King and the “iPhone 2007 presentation” by Steve Jobs.
Her conclusion was that what makes those speeches so powerful is their ability to communicate a brighter future.
Here is a part of the “I have a dream” speech by Martin Luther King:
Their main idea flows between what is and what it can be. And that is something captivating.
Elon Musk is a master at this. In space X for instance, he sells the journey impeccably.
Just check out this ad:
Space X emphasizes on the journey. A journey almost everybody wants to take part in.
Or check out this amazing ad by Tesla showcasing their journey so far:
We all have an amazing journey to narrate, but we often miss out on this opportunity.
If you are a student, for instance, don’t consider you study boring and mundane. If you are studying political sciences, mention the interesting parts of your studies and how you are inspired by figures like Francis Underwood.
If you are an engineer, explain your research and how it can impact the world.
If you are a psychologist explain how you understand the complicated human psyche and how you want to use this knowledge to better the human condition.
Whatever you are, there is definitely an interesting journey you have been part of and I am sure that you are looking forward to a bright future. Just act like it.
“Speak like a leader” is a great handbook that can help you communicate your ideas in an interesting way.
There is a nice quote that says:
“Fight until your idols become your rivals.”
Fighting Elon Musk will definitely require some exceptionally rare super powers to accomplish, but hey, if you don’t dream big what is this life worth?
Sam Altman, the president of Y-Combinator which is the most successful startup incubator in the world, mentioned in a tweet:
Most interesting pitch so far today: "In the future, YC and AngelList are the only two investors that matter, and I'm going to be the third"
— Sam Altman (@sama) October 12, 2015
As you can see, audacity and presenting yourself effectively go hand in hand.
Sometimes all you need to do is: Know your end goal, present yourself clearly and share your journey.
And as French revolutionary Georges Jacques Danton famously said:
Audacity, more audacity, always audacity.
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