Persistent unremarkable steps that lead to greatness… and what Musk might do next.

Persistent unremarkable steps that lead to greatness… and what Musk might do next.

I don’t normally write about global business leaders who have risen to gain universal notoriety and acquire celebrity status. I’m not against those that do, but I have my own reasons.

The first is that there is a view among some, that writing or talking about high profile business super-achievers creates the impression of being informed on current affairs. I’m not in that lane. I prefer to leave that lane to those that feel comfortable inhabiting it.

Another reason is the applicable quality of lessons. When writing for Tekedia, my content looks to have a West African, and particularly a Nigerian slant if its feasible.

Tekedia Mini-MBA (Sep 12 – Dec 3 2022) has started; registration continuesRegister here. Cost is N60,000 or $140 for the 12-week program. Beat early bird for free books and other bonuses. 

Macro lessons from other environments that have a completely different set of economic dynamics and challenges just don’t fit. This is particularly true of individuals whose success has relied on the American market.

I also see posts that reel out different life challenges people have had and they rose above them.

From smaller challenges such as not gone to university, to bigger challenges like starting a business path and becoming mega successful late in life, and humungous challenges such as being a multiple amputee…

Greatness comes from being an extra-ordinary human being. However, make no mistake, things in life that are debilitating and/or limiting are very real. They also vastly reduce the potential for success.

It doesn’t mean because there is a show case example of a man who built an empire, starting at aged seventy, or someone who never completed high school… that it is then reasonable to waste an opportunity to attend University if it is given; nor is it a good idea to become a passenger in your own life all the way to seventy, and then start getting serious about life ambitions.

It’s fine to be inspired, but we all need to avoid the temptation to compare. We cannot allow our capacity to achieve to be limited or benchmarked against the achievements of someone else. We must have our own path.

Being inspired can lead to dreaming. Nothing really wrong with dreaming either… The ability to dream gives hope. Hope is a phenomenon which human beings do not share with any other form of life. Hope creates the ability to perceive the achievement of things in the future beyond what is here and now. The capacity to hope creates the conditions for things like inventiveness and entrepreneurship to happen, and for civil society to exist.

Nevertheless, a measured approach is needed to realize dreams. In sport, there is this ideology called ‘playing the percentage game’. This means in any situation, the statistical likelihood of the players’ touch to achieve an outcome dominates the players decision on how to handle the play.

The player (or team) needs to work to move the play closer to a scenario where the likelihood of success from a ‘killer’ touch is vastly improved.

This means in tennis, a player doesn’t go for a winner if the level of difficulty of the shot is such that an unforced error is likely; a golfer doesn’t try to put a deliberate slice (fade) or hook on a tee shot to attempt to get a few extra metres round a dogleg, and a footballer doesn’t attempt a bicycle kick unless so close to enemy goal, it’s a very big target, or, there is no other play in the moment.

In big business team sport in particular, analysts have so many video dissecting AI tools now, they can easily build the KPI and metric value of the players consistently adding value through what seems to be unremarkable actions like ‘assists’. A few amazing bicycle kicks alone may get a player into some fans ‘shots of the year’ video on YouTube, but not on a premiership clubs shopping list.

Incremental movements are boring, tedious and the gallery doesn’t notice them, but when it comes to achieving business or career goals, the only gallery anybody really needs to play to, is themselves. It is important to play the ‘long game’ arriving timely at the destination of the dream, rather than snatch at it, while it is still out of sight, and lose all momentum.

And now, I’m going to come full circle and, contrary to normal behaviour, mention a global business leader who has risen to gain universal notoriety and acquire celebrity status.

This is Elon Musk. Now the thing about Elon Musk is, he never tried to take a short cut to a dream. In the early days at least, Musk took a lot of measured decisions and played ‘the long game’.

While he invested in Cryptocurrency, it isn’t what made him. When we look at the successful trajectory in hindsight, he never looked for an already worn bandwagon, like the Cryptocurrency or Digital Artwork NFT market trying to take a short cut.

He wasn’t a particularly remarkable seventeen-year-old when he moved from his native South Africa to the US to study. Most people today only know him for his current high-profile businesses, such as Tesla and SpaceX, but they don’t know that arriving at these destinations was a long journey through the formation of companies such as Zip2, a start-up that helped provide online publishing options for printed media (a new concept in 1995) or one of his other companies- x.com, and of course there was PayPal.  There were many steps to where he is now, and each step required a huge amount of discipline.

Now he has amassed sufficient wealth that the risk downside for his investment behaviour is minimized because of his unusual quality to have become a self-fulfilling prophesy. He can now afford to be involved in speculative investments because his brand value as an investor will see them soar when he jumps in, and it may sometimes add a crash resistant quality, so it only collapses when he has jumped out.

He has now risen to the point where his individual investment decisions, or sometimes even his remarks, or social media comment, can sway whole markets. This means when he does make a decision, it is probably a good idea to try to understand it.

Three weeks ago, Elon Musk sold 75% of Tesla’s Bitcoin, saying at the time that the decision was not a “verdict” on the digital currency.

Musk has now sold nearly $7 billion of Tesla Inc. stock between 5 and 9 August approximately…

Since the exposure to Bitcoin was already removed before he has done a limited ‘bail’ from Tesla, we have to think it is about raising liquidity and not about outflanking (potential) losses from investments with performance challenges.

With all the legal uncertainty around his $44 billion bid for Twitter Inc., it really looks like he has tried to ‘kick that one into the long grass’.

So what is he doing here? What is he raising liquidity for? Since selling the Bitcoin, Musk has said he is still open to buying more, but he didn’t say when, adding ‘cryptocurrency is a side show’

If we watch, we may get a lesson in patience, the long game, and the percentage game. Mr. Musk doesn’t do bicycle kicks

.

All references and external content sourced 11-13 /08/22

zdnet.com/article/elon-musks-tesla-has-sold-75-of-its-bitcoin-heres-why

thestreet.com/investing/how-to-trade-bitcoin-after-tesla-purchase-february-2020

marketwatch.com/story/after-tesla-sold-most-of-its-bitcoin-elon-musk-says-he-is-open-to-buying-more-though-cryptocurrency-is-a-side-show-11658355686

Bicycle kick performed by Pele; photo taken from remezcla.com

 

Share this post

2 thoughts on “Persistent unremarkable steps that lead to greatness… and what Musk might do next.

  1. While reading, I felt like I was writing at the same time. We regularly run into the temptation of referencing people’s successes and achievements, without paying adequate attention to the fundamentals and conditions that brought the ‘crowning’ to be.

    I will leave it here for now.

    Nice insights.

    Reply
  2. “If we watch, we may get a lesson in patience, the long game, and the percentage game. Mr. Musk doesn’t do bicycle kicks”

    I learned significant lessons here.

    “And now, I’m going to come full circle and, contrary to normal behaviour, mention a global business leader who has risen to gain universal notoriety and acquire celebrity status.”

    It’s good you went contrary to your normal behavior.

    Reply

Post Comment