SxSW Report – Lessons Learned from Space Travel

March  14,  2013 / By Taylor Blog

It must be said that Elon Musk has one of the most impressive resumes in the history of resumes. CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and Chief Product Officer for Tesla, Chairman of Solar City, Founder of PayPal, philanthropist, father of five. After seeing Elon speak at SxSW Interactive, let’s go ahead and add “inspiring speaker” to that list.

When his keynote began at SxSW, I found myself wondering – space travel is cool, but what does it have to do with me as a marketer? As he spoke about a recent rocket launch and his vision for the future of space travel, a few key learnings shined through for me that are relevant to all businesses – not just to space travel.

          – Preparedness is key to success – Elon provided an anecdote about a recent launch that had a triple failure in a particular mechanism. Good thing they had quadruple redundancy so all was not lost. Obviously the scale is much different in the work we tend to  do every day, but the concept holds true whether you’re talking about rocket parts or social media response protocols, for example. So yes, the Boy Scouts had it right when they said “be prepared.”

          – Recycling saves costs – When sending a rocket into space, the bulk of cost comes from the initial build. If SpaceX can figure out a way to re-use that core structure, they won’t have to replicate the bulk of the cost. This can easily be applied to web/mobile development and even building and sustaining relationships with members of the media, influencers and even your co-workers and client partners. The initial build is the most challenging – find a way to stop re-inventing the wheel (or the rocket, as it were).

          – If someone’s answer doesn’t satisfy you, find better information – After PayPal was purchased by eBay, he was curious about space travel and specifically, when we (humans) would get to Mars. Frustrated he couldn’t find the information from NASA and other sources, he founded SpaceX to create his own answers. Meanwhile, in the marketing industry, there are many grey areas. What’s the RIGHT strategy? What platform should we use? How do we measure this? What’s the ROI? If you’re not happy with the information you’re hearing, find your own answer!

          – Don’t be afraid of failure – When Elon started SpaceX, he thought the most likely outcome was failure. In fact, the first few rockets did fail. Innovation, pushing forward often starts with failure – but ends in amazing things. I’m certainly not saying we should all take our life savings and try to get to Mars, but perhaps that concept you love but thought your client would say “no way” to is worth fighting for after all.

In the end, Elon’s keynote was one of my favorite sessions at SxSW. There will be plenty more SxSW coverage and insights coming soon on Threads – stay tuned!

[Source of image: CNN]

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