Are you operating at your full potential? Take the 3 minute test to find out.

PPI #25: 6 Ways to Become like Elon Musk

Eric Partaker


  • All of us have heroes or people that we look up to, but we spend most of our time admiring them from afar rather than trying to deconstruct what drives their success and decoding that into actionable practical steps.
  • I recently read the book Elon Musk by Ashley Vance, which is a biography of the legendary entrepreneur and in this episode I’ll take you through six peak performance habits I’ve identified that Elon displays in his life and work. For each of those habits, I’ll give you three practical tools, which if implemented will help bring you more success and help you achieve what matters most.
  • To be fast like Elon you can do 3 things: #1 Commit to deadlines and respect them #2 State your goals in public to increase accountability #3 Respect Parkinson’s Law. 
  • To focus like Elon you can do 3 things: #1 Choose your top 3 things to work on the night before #2 Use timeblocks to create whitespace in your calendar and #3 Focus on those top 3 tasks. 
  • To work hard like Elon you can do 3 things: #1 Focus on the right tasks #2 Timesheet your day #3 Adopt the Professional Mindset
  • To learn like Elon you can do 3 things: #1 Develop a voracious reading habit #2 Teach someone else #3 Take a multidisciplinary approach.
  • To surround yourself with the best like Elon you can do these 3 things: #1 Know what you value #2 Positively challenge your people #3 Get your people excited about the vision.
  • To inspire like Elon you can do these 3 things: #1 Think of your company’s purpose beyond the company itself #2 Overcommunicate #3 Hunt for misalignments.


All of us have heroes or people that we look up to, but we spend most of our time admiring them rather than actually trying to deconstruct what drives their success and then more importantly, trying to further decode that into actionable practical things, which if we implemented would allow us to emulate the success of that person. Well, I recently read the book Elon Musk by Ashley Vance, which is essentially a biography of Elon. I came away with six things that I see that Elon does super well. And today I want to take you through those six things, but more importantly, I want to give you three practical tools, which if you implement can help you bring each of those six factors behind Elon’s success alive within your life and business.

Hi, my name is Eric Partaker and I help CEOs, entrepreneurs and individuals close the gap between who they are and who they’re capable of being from a peak performance point of view.

So, number one, the first thing that Elon does is he’s fast. There was actually a part of the book that had me laugh out loud. When I’m an individual in the book who is being interviewed by Ashley Vance, the author of the biography says everything Elon does is fast. He even pees fast for three seconds and he’s done. So I just thought that was hysterical, but obviously they’re having a bit of fun there. And the thing is, that if you talk to a lot of the people that work with Elon, they will say over and over again, that the man is fast. He’s on fire. He’s just constantly doing things at breakneck speed. So how do we become fast like Elon? Here’s three practical tools. 

One, we need to be deadline driven. I know that sounds simple, but how many times have you set goals and let that deadline slip? So what can you do is really respect the deadline – respect it as if it was a promise that you made to someone else and try to make your commitments public. Don’t just keep them to yourself. The next thing that you can do is just remember that to be fast, we have to respect Parkinson’s law. So Parkinson’s law simply states that work will expand to fill the space that it’s given. So for example, if you’re working on a presentation and if you’re gonna give yourself three hours to work on it, guess how long the presentation is going to take? Three hours. If you give yourself one hour to work on it, guess how long the presentation will take? One hour. Or think about it this way. Let’s say that you had to give the presentation in one hour versus three hours. You’d find a way to get it done.

The third thing that you can do to help you be fast, be like Elon, is respect the 80/20 rule. So do a hundred percent of things for a hundred percent of the results. If actually you could only spend 20% on it and still achieve 80% of the result and not stop there, get to the next thing. And then the next thing and the next thing in true 80/20 fashion. 

So those are three simple practical things that you can do to increase your speed. Number two. The second thing that Elon does is that he is focused. The man is known for his relentless attention and concentration. He always knows what he’s doing. He knows to what depth he needs to be going on within a particular subject. He knows what he’s doing on a daily basis, hour by hour. So here’s three practical tools, which if you implement, can increase your focus.

Number one, choose your top three things that you’re working on, not the day of, but the night before. So what I mean is when you end your workday, choose the top three things that you’re going to work on the following day. Number two, respect the principle of time blocks. So look in your calendar, where is the white space in your calendar where you don’t presently have an activity or a meeting, and then time block those top three things, i.e. make an appointment with yourself, schedule it in to work on those tasks and then respect that appointment as you would an appointment with someone else. The third thing is that Elon is super hard working. He’s not just working hard though. He’s also working on what really matters and that right there is the first principle to help you have higher output with your work.

So focus on what really matters. So what’s truly going to drive results in your work? What are the revenue driving activities? What are the activities that are actually going to improve the bottom line, actually move the business forward versus all the things that you could be doing in a day? And then number two: timesheet your day. So lawyers and solicitors on a daily basis, they’re tracking where every single minute goes in their day. Try doing that yourself. I did that for an extended period of time. And I had a rule that I had to rack up at least four and a half hours per day on stuff that really mattered. The only way I knew if I was racking up those hours or not was by tracking my time. So I knew where the time was going. 

Number three, to help you in your hardworking quest, adopt a professional versus amateur mindset. And what I mean by that is that an amateur needs to feel like doing something in order to do it. Whereas a professional takes action, whether they feel like it or not, or set another way an amateur needs feeling to precede action. Whereas a professional knows that action generates feeling – do all of those three things combined. And you’ll notice that your hard work and capability starts to skyrocket. 

Number four, Elon is a continuous learner. And the number one way he learns is he has a voracious reading habit. Now, look, I know you may feel like you don’t have time for reading. Maybe you don’t like reading, but there’s other ways you could be consuming content: podcasts, videos, audio books. The point is you need to build learning into your schedule somewhere. What I suggest you do is build it in at the front of your day with a reading habit or with a listening habit, whatever floats your boat, but make sure it’s actually scheduled into your day.

The second thing we can do from a continuous learning point of view is to respect the fact that while we retain 10% of what we read, we’ll actually retain 90% of what we teach. So we have our reading habit. What’s the next best thing you can do rather than sit there and take copious amounts of notes and just let it end there? Actually teach someone else, share the information, share it with someone in your family, a colleague at work. And when you teach, you get a two for one – you’re more deeply embedding the information for yourself, but you’re also helping someone else. The third thing that you can be doing to help in your continuous learning campaign is to take a multidisciplinary approach to learning. This is something that Elon does by reading across a wide breadth of subjects. And I would encourage you to do the same.

So don’t just read about if you’re fascinated with business, don’t just read about marketing and finance and operations, but then don’t just stop within business, read something in the sciences, read something in politics, read something within sports. If you’re fascinated with fiction, read a wide breadth of different types of novels, but the wider that breadth is the more that you’ll see patterns and ideas across disciplines that you can apply to your continuous learning campaign. 

Number five, Elon surrounds himself with the very best. And here’s three things that you can do to help you do the same. Number one, you have to know what it is you value. When we say a company has values, what are we really saying? We’re saying these are the behaviors that the company values in its people and the best way that you can get at your values. One of the ways that you can arrive at them is thinking through well, who are the people that I’ve promoted and asking yourself, why did I promote these people?

Because the reasons that you promoted them are representative of things that you value and all of them can be translated to values. And then equally look at the people that you wanted to get rid of, or that you did in fact fire and ask yourself, why did we get rid of those people? Because the antithesis of those reasons are also potential candidates for your values as well. And it’s very, very important to get clear on your values because otherwise you don’t know how you’re hiring or don’t know who you’re hiring. The second thing that you can do with regards to surrounding yourself with the very best people is to constantly positively challenge your people, constantly asking them for a great job. Now, if you were to do this again, how might you do it differently? How might you do it slightly better? And you can actually encourage this activity in your teammates by representing it yourself.

For example, after you complete a piece of work, you could always ask your team, how would you improve upon this? How would you make this better when you demonstrate that you’re always trying to do your best and you’re open to feedback from others, you’ll get others inspired to do their best, and then miss and demonstrate to you that they’re able to meet your standards as well. The third thing that you can do when it comes to surrounding yourself with the best people is to obviously hire the best of the best, but how through the use of purpose and vision, get them excited about where the company is going, why the company exists. 

And this is a segue to the sixth and final thing that Elon does super well: Elon inspires. And here’s three simple things that you can do to help you inspire others to greater Heights as well. Number one, think of what the purpose of the company is beyond the company itself being number one or number two in your market. Not very exciting, very self serving – trying to do something that has a positive impact on the world will not only inspire those in the companies, it will even inspire your customers. When I was helping build up Skype before we were purchased by eBay, our tagline was “the whole world can talk for free”. That was a purpose that extended beyond the company. And that was far more inspirational than saying we wanted to be the number one voiceover IP software in the world. The second thing that you can do with regards to increasing your inspiration game is to over communicate. So whatever the purpose and the vision of the company is, constantly connect to it. Connect people’s work to it, connect the company’s initiatives to it, connect any failures in the company or noncompliance issues to that purpose and vision as well.

And that actually is the third and final way, which you can increase your inspiration game, is constantly hunt for the misalignment. So by demonstrating to people that you’re constantly looking for things that don’t comply or don’t fit with the company’s purpose and vision, that in and of itself is inspiring because people see that you are really committed to this journey; that you will, without doubt, follow it through, see it through. Elon has two posters outside of his office. One is Mars present day, one is Mars with green landmass and blue oceans. He’s using visualization. And that is a reminder of one of their missions and purposes, which is to expand humanity off of planet earth and get them out there in space. So those are six qualities that make Elon Musk who he is, and three practical things that you can do with each and every quality so that you can also up your game to a world class level like Elon Musk.

Eric has been named "CEO of the Year" at the 2019 Business Excellence Awards, one of the "Top 30 Entrepreneurs in the UK" by Startups Magazine, and among "Britain's 27 Most Disruptive Entrepreneurs" by The Telegraph.

Are you operating at your full potential?

Take the 3 minute test to find out.