All Articles Leadership Inspiration VIP Corner: Elon Musk on finding success in a stagnant industry

VIP Corner: Elon Musk on finding success in a stagnant industry

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SmartBrief is partnering with Big Think to create a weekly video spotlight in SmartBrief on Leadership called “VIP Corner: Video Insights Powered by Big Think.” This week, we’re featuring Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Space Exploration Technologies.

These days, NASA and other space exploration outfits are often seen as boondoggles — no one believes in them enough to invest in them, and public interest has declined over the years. However, Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, aims to help the space industry by disrupting it.

Space companies have long relied upon large government subsidies, and consequently, the industry has become inefficient with decision-makers unwilling to take risks or innovate, Musk noted. “The United States cannot even get someone into orbit with the help of the Russians. And that is a terrible trajectory,” Musk said.

SpaceX intends to change the way the industry behaves by creating new technology and changing the way people view space exploration overall. Since its inception, SpaceX has won more contracts than any other country or company.

Musk’s advice for startups that seek to disrupt is to find industries that have declined or remained stagnant, and to look for products and services no one else believes in. Indeed, if everyone thinks you can succeed at a industry — they’re probably diving in, he said.

Musk said that one does not merely disrupt an industry for the sake of it, but rather the goal is to see where a product or service has remained the same for some time, or has declined, and then dramatically change it.

“The world is going to change so dramatically in the 21st century, one thing is to identify something, try to aim for a big problem rather than a small problem, just look for industries that are functioning poorly and that have been stagnant for some period of time,” Musk said.

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