I was twice in the presence of Elon Musk during the course of 48 hours at at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, USA in March 2018. It took me a total of around four hours queuing to get entry to the sessions where he spoke.
My commitment was nothing, however, compared with others who slept the night in the conference centre to make sure they got a ticket. To me, this signalled that Elon was being lauded as the ultimate rock star geek.
Why was Elon moving people in this way? It’s not just that his tech is revolutionary.
He has some of the most accomplished creative minds in the world helping him build his brand. The Starman film – directed by Jonathan Nolan, the co-creator of hit TV series Westworld – had just been released. It is riveting and uplifting no matter how many times you watch it. Talk about iconic product placement. Sending a Tesla into space is the 21st Century equivalent of Omega supplying the watch worn by Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. Except in Elon’s case he owned both the cargo and the extra-terrestrial transport.
The main reason this awkward 21st Century renaissance man was becoming a cult leader by accident, was that he had a deeply inspiring purpose for leading the human race back into space:
“To make you believe again that anything is possible”.
The survival of his own businesses – which he admitted had been massively against the odds – is testimony to where this mantra has taken him, so far at least.
That gives some hope to the rest of us.
Picture taken at SXSW March 2018 © Nicola Rossi