How to think like Elon Musk

Francesco_Hayez_001Aristotle nicely drawn by Francesco Hayez in 1800s.

I read an article today about entrepreneur/rockstar/innovator Elon Musk and his approach. This is what he had to say about the philosophy that sparked ventures such as SpaceX and Tesla Motors.

“The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. We are doing this because it’s like something else that was done, or it is like what other people are doing. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths … and then reason up from there.”

It’s logical really to question everything, but it requires a lot more energy so you need to know when to resort to that kind of critical thinking. What I like about first principle thinking is that it’s about thinking BIG, outside the box and challenging what we already (think) we know today.

Read about Elon Musk’s approach to SpaceX here

First principle thinking is not new of course. This is what greek philosopher Aristotle had to say about it:

In every systematic inquiry (methodos) where there are first principles, or causes, or elements, knowledge and science result from acquiring knowledge of these; for we think we know something just in case we acquire knowledge of the primary causes, the primary first principles, all the way to the elements. It is clear, then, that in the science of nature as elsewhere, we should try first to determine questions about the first principles. The naturally proper direction of our road is from things better known and clearer to us, to things that are clearer and better known by nature; for the things known to us are not the same as the things known unconditionally (haplôs). Hence it is necessary for us to progress, following this procedure, from the things that are less clear by nature, but clearer to us, towards things that are clearer and better known by nature. (source: Wikipedia)

Reading the above might easily get your head a little tired, but principal thinking doesn’t really need a detailed explanation. What you should do is move backwards in your thought process and question the things you already take for granted and try to see the problem/situation from another viewpoint. This is the kind of thinking that can really drive innovation, create huge ideas and change the world.

And for the true entrepreneur, innovator, artist, etc…it’s definitely worth the effort. Just ask Mr Musk.

Companies Without Managers – Holocracy or Holocrazy?

photo-4Could you trash the standard company hierarchy and build a company without managers? That is the question put forth by Zappos, Medium and a few other companies when introducing a structure called Holocracy. Is it exciting or crazy?

I think it’s exciting (but slightly crazy), please comment what you think! Check out these articles:

Zappos says goodbye to bosses from Washington Post

Making sense of Zappos and holacracy

How Medium Is Building a New Company

Zappos is going holacratic

Blue Jasmine

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We just saw Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen‘s latest movie. It’s fantastic. Just wanted to tell you that.

However, I should make it clear I like most Allen movies, especially the later ones. He tells stories the way not enough people do, without special effects, without exaggerations and without gloom.

He tells stories using beautiful photography and scenery (To Rome with Love and Midnight in Paris are recent excellent examples) and fine acting. He tells stories that feels eerily real but still kind of nice.

And he knows how to direct actors. Just look at Cate Blanchett’s amazing performance in Blue Jasmine and you know what I mean.

So if you want to watch something inspiring of real quality – watch a Woody Allen movie. And why not Blue Jasmine?

Experience First – Lessons From SOL Republic

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Design products with passion and put the experience first and you shall succeed.

Is it that easy? Well, of course not. But if you start there it seems like you improve your chances drastically.

This constant talk about user experience is not just business blabla or a trend – it’s sense. I was sent an interesting video today talking about passion and experience from a product point of view. It’s Brian Solis interviewing SOL Republic‘s co-founder Seth Combs. Watch it below:

Just listen to how passionate Combs sounds about his product and its users. Makes you want to buy it straight away.

Check out SOL Headphones on Amazon or their official website

How to React to Tough Feedback According to John Mayer

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You have to be able not to get your way. Cry a little bit. Take a bump.  And let it send you back to the lab. Even if you have to say “I’ll show him!” It’s all gonna be better for it – John Mayer.

I watched an inspiring video today with one of my musical heroes, John Mayer. He’s doing a Q&A at Oxford and there are some insightful bits in the 50-minute long interview. You can watch it here. If you’re pressed for time, this outtake about his friendship with Steve Jobs really resonated with me.

I really like the part about tough feedback where John describes how Steve Jobs or any good manager could kill off bad ideas down with just one rhetoric question. That’s how a great leader acts, he doesn’t say NO! – he poses a question that lets you find “no” yourself, which strengthens you and your ideas immensely.

John then talks about how the “independent” artist world can be too soft, where the artists have too much say and that’s why the end product is poorer. You can obviously argue this back and forth, but even as an independent author I have to admit that there’s something there. To develop as an artist/individual/employee/whatever you need feedback, you need to hear when your stuff’s not up to par. And when you have the power to cut out that vital criticism and just go ahead and do what you want anyway, there’s a risk that the art/you/everybody suffers.

Everyone needs a filter. Or like John says:

“I miss bosses in general, I miss editors, I miss people who tell me – don’t do that! We wanted it and we got it and I don’t think it’s that great for an artist to have a manager whose job is to filter out all of the ideas and then meet them out accordingly with patience and grace.”

That’s not the way to do it. Take criticism for what it is, and be honest, then go back to the lab and improve.

Remember: everybody benefits from that.

What an Innovation: Indoor Clouds!

I’m crazy about big ideas, innovation and creativity. My motto in life is that we should keep moving, both physically and mentally, to always grow and develop our potential.

That’s also why I the love the Indoor Clouds in this Best Innovations of 2012 article from Time.com

Let’s stay creative and let’s find new ways of doing, saying and improving everything. Not sure indoor clouds are a huge improvement, but it’s pretty damn amazing anyway!