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.