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

By Daniel Sparks - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:15PM

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

It's no secret that Tesla's ( TSLA -6.42% ) 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. 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. 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.

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.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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