It's no secret that Elon Musk is a bit of a geek. The visionary CEO loves new technology, space, and science fiction. He also has quite the sense of humor, and has been known to pull pranks as well as hide "Easter Eggs" within his products.
The launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy drew 2.3 million concurrent views on YouTube, making it the second-highest live stream ever on the platform. People around the world were greeted with the words "Don't Panic" clearly visible on the center console in a direct nod to the Douglas Adams classic, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
In the 1987 movie, Spaceballs, Mel Brooks played a Yoda-like character who spoke about merchandising in a memorable way. Musk has directly referred to that scene when speaking about sales:
The *real* money comes from merchandising. I learned it from this documentary https://t.co/E4gpqhl6KF-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 3, 2017
So it wasn't surprising when he released The Boring Company Flamethrower, available for $500 in a limited run of 20,000:
Obviously, a flamethrower is a super terrible idea. Definitely don't buy one.-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 28, 2018
Elon Musk demonstrating the Boring Company Flamethrower he is releasing pic.twitter.com/QrRIeiJkMk-- Urban Society (@UrbanSociety__) January 28, 2018
It's not just that Musk is a giggling fan-boy -- studies show that a sense of humor and certain interests may actually play an important role in the creative process.
Here are a few things you can learn from Musk's more quirky side:
Just tap the voice button on the steering wheel and say "Play Monty Python" or "Navigate home" or anything. Voice commands work pretty well.-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 8, 2017
Obviously, no one likes to be bored. When confronted with the monotony of your daily grind, it's often all you can do to take your mind off it. With one seemingly random feature hidden into his Teslas, Musk invites us to play.
Improv is a useful tool, especially since entrepreneurs who often get stuck in the weeds. This helps you get out of our heads and become connected to the needs of others, so you can respond more freely, spontaneously and flexibly.
While the Tesla offers a few different "Easter Egg" modes, including the James Bond Submarine and "Sketch Mode", perhaps the coolest of all is one that lets you feel like you're an astronaut exploring Mars.
Passion is one of the most important characteristics of entrepreneurship. More than potential money or fame, your passion can fuel everything you do, like Musk's passion for space exploration drives him to create cool products.
First machine is Godot. Still waiting ... Don't know why, when or where. -- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 11, 2017
Waiting isn't a trait you normally associate with Musk, yet he had to do just that with the Boring Company tunnel project. His cute, poignant reminders helped us understand that he also cares about this too.
"Playing full out" means you need to be transparent with your thoughts and emotions or you won't achieve your goals. Musk models this quite well, showing that you can be approachable and still run a successful business (or 3).
Activate autopilot 4X in quick succession for psychedelic cowbell road. And, yes, we are adding more cowbell soon.-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 11, 2016
Musk frequently puts "cheat" codes into his products that allow them to do different things like flash rainbow colors, play hidden video files or change the functionality of the car entirely. By doing this, he encourages people to try things out and discover them for themselves.
It's fun to play alone sometimes, but eventually, you want to let other people in on the action. Musk shows us how by using just the right level of engagement you can create raving fans.
My son recently asked what my favorite animal was. Well, of course ... https://t.co/hpTniMe1mF-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 29, 2016
It's no secret that Musk loves author Douglas Adams -- he slips The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy references everywhere he can. In addition to his Roadster stunt, he also designated the first passenger ship to Mars the "Heart of Gold" in a classic book reference and designed the Falcon Heavy rocket with 42 engines (which has since been reduced to 27).
His love of lighthearted science fiction and comedy show that he is playful -- and, well, likeable. In turn, it makes people want to follow him on whatever crazy idea he comes up with next.
This is important for entrepreneurs to remember: when you're building a community, you're part of it too.
And now, thanks to Musk, we get to have a fun jaunt through the galaxy as well.