Elon Musk’s work-life has been on a rocky path in recent weeks. First, he purchased a large amount of Twitter stock, which he kept hidden for far longer than was permissible. After that, he ran a successful campaign to join Twitter’s board of directors.
That attempt came to a halt when he chose to forego his board of directors’ position to purchase the entire company.
He offered $54.20 per share, a figure that includes his favourite number, 420, which is frequently used as a code for marijuana. After adopting a “poison pill” strategy to deter Musk, Twitter’s board of directors reversed course and agreed to accept the offer.
Musk has indicated that the deal will be put on hold because he is concerned about the presence of bots on Twitter.
The only issue is that having made a definite offer in writing with no time for due diligence, Musk may not have the legal authority to put the deal on hold.
As Twitter’s stock price falls, he’s being sued by a Twitter shareholder who wants to file a class-action lawsuit against him.
However, while Musk is always fascinating to watch, his achievements and failures may teach you a lot about what works and what doesn’t in business and life.
With that in mind, here are three lessons every entrepreneur can learn from Elon Musk’s Twitter mess.
1. Acting by impulse can be a good thing and a bad thing
Do you recall how The Boring Company got its start? Musk was stuck in a traffic jam in Los Angeles and tweeted from behind the car that he would create a boring machine and start burrowing beneath the streets. He felt obligated to add, “I am genuinely going to do this,” because it seemed like a joke.
The Boring Company is doing better than you might think for a company established by impulse. It’s experienced several failures, but it now has a tunnel open and running in Las Vegas and a $5.7 billion valuation.
That isn’t to say that it will turn out good every time Musk acts on a whim. His decision to buy the whole of Twitter rather than accept a position on the board of directors as a big stakeholder appears to have been made on the spur of the moment.
His declaration that he was postponing the purchase due to bot accounts’ concerns appears rash and deceptive.
Musk was well aware of the prevalence of bots on the network before he made his offer. Right now, it’s unclear whether either option will be beneficial to him. Impulsive acts don’t always work out.
2. You cannot be good at everything
Elon Musk’s notable accomplishments are because of his extraordinary abilities. He appears to be capable of solving almost any engineering challenge, and he taught himself to be a rocket scientist.
He is credited with bringing the electric car business into the mainstream, and his ambition to colonise Mars may be realised. He’s also the wealthiest person on the planet.
All of this may lead you to believe that Musk will be successful in everything he does, but this is not the case.
He can’t even hold a tune. And, despite his claims that Twitter should allow any speech that isn’t illegal, he has no idea how to fix the company’s problems.
When asked about specifics at this year’s TED conference, he conceded half-heartedly, “I don’t have all the answers here.”
3. Emotional intelligence is really important
Musk had shown a remarkable lack of emotional intelligence on numerous occasions, such as when he smoked weed in front of millions of people on Joe Rogan’s podcast or when he referred to a British diver assisting in the Thai cave rescue as a “pedo person.”
In Elon Musk’s case, it appears he still has a lot to learn.
Even before Musk tweeted that if he completes the purchase of Twitter, “work ethic standards would be high,” Twitter employees were already worried, and many were sending out their resumes.
It’s still a competitive labour market, particularly for tech expertise. Whatever Musk plans or desires for Twitter, a mass exodus of experienced employees will not assist him in achieving his goals.
Navigating Twitter’s important challenges about whether and when to limit speech on its platform will require a high level of emotional intelligence.