5 Radical Business Quotes From Tesla Motors, Inc.'s Elon Musk

Headed into Tesla earnings, here are five quotes from the "real-life Iron man" to ponder.

Jul 30, 2014 at 3:15PM

It's no secret that Tesla's (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO is incredibly accomplished. Elon Musk can take credit for co-founding PayPal, SpaceX, SolarCity, and the electric-car maker. All these companies have gone on to see tremendous success. SolarCity and Tesla, the two that are traded on the stock market (PayPal is a part of publicly traded eBay), have seen their market values explode in recent years. In the past two years, Tesla is up 670%, and SolarCity is up 530%.

Elon Musk Battery Swap Demonstration

Elon Musk. Image source: Tesla Motors.

Even though Musk serves as the CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla, and as the chairman at SolarCity, he still, apparently, has some spare time. Last year, Musk managed to draft early designs of a transportation tube he's calling the Hyperloop. It could shoot people in pods at 700 miles per hour, he says. He built the plans simply to give them away, and hopefully spark an open-source effort on something like it. 

No wonder that, when Elon Musk speaks, a lot of people listen. It's worth taking a look at some of the guiding principles behind Musk's success. On that note, here are some Musk quotes that are especially relevant to entrepreneurs.

Heart matters. "[My biggest mistake is probably] weighing too much on someone's talent and not someone's personality. I think it matters whether someone has a good heart."

Do it anyway. "If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it."

Success may be a more likely outcome than you think. "The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur."

Reason from "first principles." "I think it's also important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy."

What are first principles? "First principles is kind of a physics way of looking at the world. What that really means is you kind of boil things down to the most fundamental truths... and then reason up from there."

Seek out negative feedback. "You want to be extra rigorous about making the best possible thing you can. Find everything that's wrong with it, and fix it. Seek negative feedback, particularly from friends."

Model S Hong Kong

Model S. Image source: Tesla Motors.

Entrepreneurs, investors, or anyone who chooses to listen, may pick up several new quotes, or general business tips, from Elon Musk tomorrow. Tesla reports second-quarter results after market close on Thursday.

Unsurprisingly, Tesla conducts its earnings calls much differently than other companies, spending nearly an hour on questions and answers -- much longer than usual -- and avoiding long-winded prepared remarks. The company's quarterly letter to shareholders also takes on a unique format. Most companies only provide a few written comments beyond the typical numbers and metrics in their quarterly reports. But Tesla's quarterly letters to shareholders are longer than many annual letters to shareholders from other companies.

Tesla Logo

Image source: Tesla Motors.

Musk will have some big topics to cover. With a planned Gigafactory, a $5 billion factory purposed to manufacture more lithium-ion batteries than the entire world produced in 2013, possibly already under construction, and a fully electric SUV slotted for a launch in early 2015, Musk will have to convince the Street that Tesla is prepared to execute expertly.

Investors can read the quarterly letter to shareholders when it is made available after market close on Thursday here. Tune in to the earnings call at 5:30 PM EST here. Here are some metrics to watch, and storylines to follow, when the results are made public.

Daniel Sparks owns shares of Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool recommends Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

More advisors and investors caught onto the idea and started writing their own financial plans on a single index card.

I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

So, here's my index-card financial plan:


Everything else is details. 

Something big just happened

I don't know about you, but I always pay attention when one of the best growth investors in the world gives me a stock tip. Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner (whose growth-stock newsletter was rated #1 in the world by The Wall Street Journal)* and his brother, Motley Fool CEO Tom Gardner, just revealed two brand new stock recommendations moments ago. Together, they've tripled the stock market's return over 12+ years. And while timing isn't everything, the history of Tom and David's stock picks shows that it pays to get in early on their ideas.

Click here to be among the first people to hear about David and Tom's newest stock recommendations.

*"Look Who's on Top Now" appeared in The Wall Street Journal which references Hulbert's rankings of the best performing stock picking newsletters over a 5-year period from 2008-2013.

Compare Brokers