Every so often, an innovator with the capability to inspire and move people emerges. These men and women in the past have left their mark in society, and in this era, one of these innovators could very well be Elon Musk. And as the industrialist celebrates yet another birthday working at his electric car company, the Tesla and SpaceX community has banded together to extend their well-wishes to the hard working chief executive.
Today marks Elon Musk’s 48th year on Earth (0 years on Mars, for now), and in a recent Twitter interaction with his social media followers, the CEO mentioned that he would just be working on his birthday. Tesla, after all, is at a crucial point, with the company attempting to reach its delivery and production goals before the end of the second quarter. This would require everyone at Tesla, Musk included, to work extra hard until the end of June to deliver as many vehicles to customers as possible.
The Tesla community is known for being an appreciative group. Taking the initiative, a number of enthusiasts have taken it upon themselves to compile several warm birthday greetings from Tesla and SpaceX supporters across the globe. One of these came in the form of a video compiled by Model 3 owner-enthusiast Tesla_Raj, who runs a YouTube channel. An initiative to gather letters from Tesla supporters in numerous countries has also resulted in a long list of around 500 people thanking Musk for his work and wishing him well on his birthday.
Many of Musk’s birthday greetings featured well-wishes from individuals, families, and groups who have been positively affected by Tesla in one way or another. Several greetings were also quick to remind the CEO that it is important to take a breather once in a while, a reference to Musk’s tendency to overwork himself during times when Tesla is under pressure. Musk explained this habit in an interview last year, when he described his 120-hour workweeks during the height of the Model 3 ramp as some of the most painful points of his career.
A key theme that is also present in a good number of greetings were references to Musk and Tesla’s ongoing battle against veterans in the auto industry, as well as the negative narrative surrounding the company that has remained persistent over the years. Quite unsurprisingly, some of these struggles were mentioned by a Tesla community member who created an Elon Musk-inspired track as a birthday gift under the meme-proficient CEO’s fictional label, Emo G records.
Looking at the history of Tesla and SpaceX, it is evident that Musk is someone who never really takes the path of least resistance. And it is evident in the constant battle that both companies continue to fight today. SpaceX is somewhat protected from the rabid attacks directed at Tesla by skeptics due to the company’s private nature, but the company is no stranger to negativity. Tesla, of course, is pretty much the resident whipping boy of critics thanks to a pervading negative narrative surrounding the company and its products.
Yet, despite these challenges, both companies have flourished nonetheless. SpaceX currently operates one of the world’s most powerful rockets, the Falcon Heavy, which has already flawlessly delivered two commercial payloads this year. Tesla, for its part, continues to take a steadily larger piece of the auto market that has long been guarded by veteran carmakers. All these, of course, were the results of the hard work of thousands upon thousands of people working tirelessly at both SpaceX and Tesla. All these won’t be possible either without a CEO that is willing to lead from the front lines.
Musk is considered to be a man of many talents, but perhaps his biggest strength is his stubborn refusal to give up. In an interview with 60 Minutes back in 2012, Musk noted that he would have to be “dead or completely incapacitated” before he throws in the towel, and he has stood by these words ever since. The original Tesla Roadster was released at the worst possible time due to the US financial crisis; the Model S was mocked as “vaporware” during the years leading up to its release; the Model X was dubbed impossible due to its complexity; and the Model 3 was dismissed as a sure-fire failure that will crumble amidst the shadow of competitors such as the Chevy Bolt EV. As history would prove, each one of these vehicles would prove to be successful.
Even at 48 years old, Musk remains optimistic, almost to a fault. One could sigh at how Musk seemingly retains some naïveté to a certain degree, being a person that seemingly still believes in the good in people. This is evident in the mission of both his companies, with SpaceX aiming to make humans an interplanetary species and Tesla looking to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. As the Tesla and SpaceX story unravels more, one cannot help but conclude that in more ways than one, Elon Musk is precisely the type of innovator that the world needs right now: optimistic, persistent to a fault, flawed, relentless, and most of all, unwilling to accept the word “impossible.” And for being that, Musk deserves all the well-wishes he can get on this special (working) day.