Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Creative Mind of Elon Musk

The Creative Mind of Elon Musk

             Named one of the world’s most powerful people (Forbes), Elon Musk is the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO of Tesla, cofounder of Solar City, cofounder of Zip2, and founder of X.com that later became PayPal. Estimated to be worth around $14.2 billion dollars (Forbes), this self made man can attribute his massive success to the creative mind he possesses. As demonstrated by his reach in many facets of business and science innovation, Elon Musk’s mind stretches out far beyond a single domain but rather masters the elemental truths from varying domains to form an all-encompassing idea system that allows Musk initiate a wide paradigm shift in relatively the most important aspects of human life.



             At a young age, Elon Musk displayed a precociousness in computer programming and created a small scale video game at the age of 12 (Biography). As a result of this young genius, Musk was an outcast in his youth. This was overcome when he attended college and excelled at his academics at University of Pennsylvania where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in physics. This success allowed him to proceed into a very successful career in business and scientific development.

            Musk has been ever present in the world of scientific creativity that allows for a fundamental shift in humans’ function in the world. SpaceX is a company created by Elon Musk after having made an impact with Zip2 and PayPal. SpaceX will usher a new age of space exploration for humankind by making space flight drastically less expensive and more frequent. Putting a lot of equity into this company when many didn’t see a substantial profit margin for the company’s mission, Musk jokes that “he used a large fortune in order to make a small fortune” (Ted Talk) because he so believed in an essential human need to become an interplanetary species. SpaceX would put to use a renewable rocket that would only incur a cost on fuel rather than the billions of dollars required for each flight on rockets currently used by government controlled space expeditions that can only be used once. This decreased cost and frequent flights of the SpaceX rockets will normalize space flight for humans and allow for human presence on other planets, implementing a new age for humanity as interplanetary.


              Another company springing from the mind of Elon Musk is SolarCity. As opposed to SpaceX which is geared toward human presence on other planets, SolarCity is concerned with the effect human presence has on the earth. The consumption and burning of natural resources have had a detrimental effect on Earth’s environment and its reservoirs are rapidly depleting. To sidestep this impending global doom, Elon Musk is using SolarCity to mass produce solar panels for everyday consumer use. The idea is that a household can chose to buy a solar panel system or lease the system which is then installed making the house self-sustaining. The solar panel system will supplant the monopoly that ComEd and NicorGas has created. Consumers will no longer pay utility bills from these companies but rather pay a leasing fee from SolarCity, which is shown to be less that paying your average ComEd bill. This will lessen the financial burden of consumers as well as decrease our dependence on fossil fuels.


While Musk has said that he attributes his success by simply “working a lot” (Ted Talk), mere hard work cannot encapsulate the basis of Musk’s phenomenal success in varying domains of innovation. In an explanation of his method, Elon Musk says that he observes all that he approaches through “physics fundamental thinking” (Ted Talk). Believing all things have an elemental truth to them that can be explained through the universal. Musk shows adeptness at abstracting the complex in science, design, and business and synthesize all these aspects into an industry of his own (Ted Talk), this sounding quite similar to the creative cognition theories illuminated by Steven M. Smith and Thomas B. Ward as an insight to the pathways of a creating brain. This reach across the varying domains has allowed Elon Musk to elicit change in the way humans are living as well as human mindsets on how we should be living.


Thomas Bernard. Ward, and Steven M. Smith. Creative Cognition: Theory, Research and Applications. Cambridge, Mass: MIT, 1996. Print.


  1. I think that Elon Musk is a great example of someone who possesses creativity, and someone who actually reminds me of Einstein. Both received degrees in physics and went on to make significant breakthroughs in their fields, creating solutions to problems that others physicists were unable to solve. The fact that Musk was able to create an entirely electric car is amazing. He identified a problem with the use of fossil fuels to sustain humans in the long run, and created a partial solution to being so heavily dependent on it (Tesla cars are still too expensive for just anyone to have). In addition to this it is obvious he is taking great steps when it comes to space exploration. By taking technology we already have and improving it, we will be able to make space travel more frequent and less costly. Based on his scientific innovation, it is obvious that Musk takes innovations he sees and makes them more efficient. Taking something that already exists and having to completely redesign it takes immense creativity because many people are stuck on what has already been done, and are unable to reconstruct something that exists in a new way. I think this is a skill that shows Musk's creativity.

  2. It is hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that Elon Musk is the one man behind so many creative endeavors. Take the success of SpaceX or Tesla alone, and that is impressive, but take both of those companies, along with Solar City and PayPal, and you are obviously looking at someone special. What is interesting to me is that he doesn't limit himself to one domain. It makes me wonder if the creative capacity of other creatives is bigger than we think. What if they expanded beyond one domain?


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