Having a real purpose makes a strong difference for everything you do in your private and business life. A real purpose is one that serves a fundamental principle and is larger than you. You are better, faster, more accurate, and more successful if you have a real purpose, and you are not if you don’t. People without a real purpose can be good in what they do but never exceptional. Having a real purpose makes you a different person and a different company. Everybody knows and feels when he has found a real purpose.
Tesla has a real purpose that is expressed in accelerating the advent of sustainable transportation, but all other automotive companies have an objective. Objectives like revenue, profit, costs, unit sales, or stock price are valid parameters to aim for. Our entire economy has been built around achieving objectives that add to the GDP and personal wealth, making us all somehow an element that contributes to it. You contribute with your work to the good of the company, the economy, and yourself. Important fundamental needs like food, shelter, and health have a high priority, but later when these important needs are fulfilled people start searching for a real purpose in life.
People who have found a real purpose burn for what they do, and go the extra mile, and that’s the reason why a group of people who have a real purpose can change the world. Tesla is a group of people with a shared real purpose to accelerate the advent of sustainable transportation. That is a mighty decisive difference compared to competitors who just have an objective or two. If you just have a purpose-less objective, the likelihood that you win against someone with a real purpose is low.
Tesla Master Plan I & II are expressions of the purpose of Tesla in simple worlds, and they unite people who burn for that purpose and who go the extra mile to achieve it. This is the underlying fundamental reason for the success of Tesla and SpaceX that no one talks about. Everything that has been achieved — be it ground-braking innovation, incredible growth, or a skyrocketing stock price — is caused by having a real purpose, because that purpose makes people to go the extra mile.
University graduates vote overwhelmingly for Tesla and SpaceX as their #1 and #2 most attractive future company to work for, not because they expect to earn a lot of money or to gain a lifetime job or a cozy workplace, but because supporting a real purpose transforms their life into a higher meaning. To be part of a company that helps stop global heating on earth, forcing the entire mighty automotive industry to change, is a higher meaning. To be a part of a company that helps humanity to become multi-planetary, increasing the probability that humankind will survive — at least, in our solar system — for a long time is a higher meaning and makes a fundamental lasting difference. Both purposes aim to help humankind to survive, and that’s possibly the most important purpose of all, and worth investing time into.
Other companies have similar mission statements and true purposes, but in the automotive industry the leading principle is simply to make money. That said, Tesla and SpaceX are making money too, but they don’t do it to make their shareholders, managers, and employees rich. They do it to be able to achieve their missions.
Many claim that Elon Musk, with his unprecedented stock options plan from Tesla, is making billions and is already one of the richest people on earth — therefore, everything is still about making money. My response is that he cannot exercise his options for a long time and therefore is not yet rich. In the future, he will be rich, but he also made clear many times that he will invest all the money he makes for the mission to settle humans on Mars. While this is just a promise and people should be valued by their actions, Elon Musk did sell all his houses, and when Tesla and SpaceX were almost bankrupt, he put all his private money into SpaceX and Tesla even though he thought the likelihood of losing it all was about 90%. On top of that, as the CEO of Tesla, he earns the lowest possible salary and even donates it.
If all of that is intended action to get rich, then it is a stupid action, and if there is one thing supporters and critics of Elon Musk agree with, it is that he is smart. The actions from Elon Musk are proof that he has no intention to become rich just to get rich, but rather to change the world for the better. If he just wanted to be rich, he could have enjoyed the rest of his life in luxury after selling PayPal instead of fighting the mighty automotive industry and oil and gas industry, making his life miserable.
He had to borrow money from friends at one point in time to be able to pay his house rent because all the money that he had he threw into his two main companies — since he could not accept losing one of them. From a business perspective, it would have been wise to invest all in one of the two companies, but he concluded the true purpose of both companies was critically important for humankind and therefore both needed to survive.
We know today that at the end of the day he won, but put yourself in his shoes for a second and imagine you had to decide which of the companies you would let die. Actions don’t lie and the only reason why Elon Musk did what he did is because he believed in the mission and did not care about private wealth. Elon Musk has a true purpose, and he grew his companies on that foundation.
To earn money and create wealth is nothing negative. It is a driving factor that helps to reduce poverty, increase health, and improve education. Having ideals as a company that intends to make the world a better place has always been a concept associated with losing money, one that most managers smiled at and Wall Street laughed at. Investments that tried to reduce carbon emissions and improve the environment in the past either had a very low yield or a negative one. That’s why mostly NGOs are doing it. Drilling oil, manufacturing vehicles, and having a business model that creates goods and services by socializing the costs from environmental damage is usually a business with high profits. That’s a fundamental business rule — not just for recent centuries but for millenniums.
— CleanTechnica (@cleantechnica) December 19, 2020
Today is one of the rare moments where investing your life and your hard-earned money in a business that intends to make Earth a better place creates profits for you and the environment. Many companies pretend to do the same, but only a very few really do so. A large automaker is an organization that has the objective of making profits — and they have been able to do that by not accounting for the environmental damage they have caused ever.
Societies and their citizens are paying the price for artificial cost reductions that, if they would be factored in, would make fossil fuel vehicles unattractive and not competitive with full electrics (BEVs). The carbon credit malus and bonus system is a first attempt to make them accountable and correct that mistake. But instead of shifting into renewables and BEVs, the efforts to invent devices that cheat on emission measures to capture some of that environmental cost increased.
For many years, people have discussed what really makes Tesla different, and how it could possibly become the global leader in BEVs. Most talk about technology inventions, vertical integration, and Elon Musk, but they all miss the largest. Every of the reasons named can be tracked back to the decisive root cause of having a true purpose. That is true for Tesla and its true for SpaceX and NeuroLink.
The automotive industry has a great filter that, for more than half a century, not a single automotive startup was able to pass through, a great filter that requires at least $15,000–20,000 investment to establish oneself in an already divided and limited market. Every single attempt in the last 50 years to move behind the auto industry has been defeated and resulted in destruction.
Incumbent automotive companies are unable to keep up with the acceleration of the advent of sustainable transportation that Tesla executes on. Acceleration of innovation and its execution is just an expression of people who put all their passion, energy, and motivation into a better world. A company that Wall Street considers today many times more valuable than automotive companies that produce 20 times more vehicles per year than it has achieved this unprecedented success because people working for the company have found their personal true purpose.
Having a true purpose is the decisive difference of business success and Tesla is an example of it.
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