Original question from Quora:

Is Elon Musk the next Steve Jobs?

Elon has been a part of 3 revolutionary companies and has worked on things long before the rest of the world thought they were possible? Is he “the next Steve Jobs”?

My Answer:

Yes he is, but not quite the same way that you’d imagine.

In the last few years, especially with SpaceX, Elon Musk has become a huge celebrity in the world. He’s earned it.

Yet, what you might not consider is the question you are really asking. What you are really asking about is the lionizing of a heroic character by the mass public.

Steve Jobs is not a huge deal because of Apple, he’s a huge deal because he was good at making sure his story gets told and that it is HIS story.

Some men don’t want or need to be the center of attention. For example, there are very smart, capable engineers like Woz who seemingly have no interest in building and leading world changing companies. They like making cool stuff and that’s enough for them.

Men like Jobs and Musk are different not just because they want to lead world changing companies, but because they become the face of those companies. They are inseparable from them.

Musk and Jobs are similar because they both embraced the role of being the ringleader of the circus. Both are modern PT Barnum type figures in that way. They know how to put on a show and they know that putting on a show is important to the success of their ambition.

Here’s the real trick, by being the showman out in front, it creates an outsized heroic image of them for the world. They end up looking like modern day superheroes in the same way that industrial giants like Andrew Carniege did 100 years ago.

So, in that way, Musk is following in the footsteps of Jobs and the men before him because of the way he puts on a show and is so inseparable from the things he is leading and creating.

Most men never achieve such fame and hero worship because they haven’t put themselves in that hero worship position. That’s not necessarily a good or bad thing. It is what it is.

If things continue Musk will be looked at as one of the great men of our time, like Jobs, Gates, Buffet, and so on. It’s not just because of his achievements, but because his achievements are so visible and he is visibly a huge part of them.

There are men who have achieved similar greatness, and most people outside of their industries never know their names. For example, who is the face of Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, or Exxon Mobil?

Those companies have done shockingly well and you never hear about the people running them.

So, because of the hero worship Musk invites, he is truly is the next Steve Jobs.

-Brian

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