Natalie Dawson is placed in the left side of the photo, seated in front of a microphone with her hair pulled back while wearing an all-black outfit. A photo of Tesla founder Elon Musk, wearing a tuxedo, is placed on the right side of the photo. The letters "WWED" (short for "What would Elon do?" titles the photo.

WWED?

August 31, 2022

Are you confident in your decision making?

As a business owner or a leader within a business, you can sometimes feel a little lonely in your decision making. You make decisions all day, every day, regardless of whether or not they’re popular, but because they’re the right decisions for the business at that time. 

Being in that space of mind can be isolating at times. You can start to question yourself when you’re outside of the business and having conversations with people outside of your world. You can even feel apologetic for the decisions you make, even though you know you’re doing what’s best for your company. 

“Am I being empathetic enough? Sensitive enough? Compassionate enough?”

To be clear: I’m very confident, very concrete about the decisions I’m making. My intentions are clear. There’s a strategy behind the choices I’m making. They’re part of a greater goal that our business is heading toward. 

Then you start hearing all of this talk about things like 4-day work weeks, and I find myself thinking,”Am I just too old-school? Am I too much of a hardass?” because so much of this stuff feels like fluff, feels like a distraction from what the mission of our company is, and I can’t help but wonder if I’m just out of touch.

And then a business leader like Elon Musk snaps my perspective right back in place. 

What would Elon do?

He’s leading 110,000 employees and he does it with absolute confidence. He’s decisive. He’s unapologetic. He sets expectations for his team and holds them accountable.

What I’m referring to specifically is Musk’s call for all of his remote workforce to return to the office, without exception. If a worker refuses to return to the office? Then expect to be terminated. 

Here’s are some excerpts from an internal email Musk sent to Tesla that was leaked to the press:

“Anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean *minimum*) of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla. This is less than we ask of factory workers.” 

“If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.”

“Tesla has and will create and actually manufacture the most exciting and meaningful products of any company on Earth,” he added. “This will not happen by phoning it in.”

Don’t be afraid of being decisive

You see, this type of decision making — this commitment to mission and vision of what’s possible deeply, deeply resonates with me, personally, and aligns with how we at Cardone Ventures see a business with a great culture that fosters high-achieving teams who serve our clients at the highest level. 

Elon is totally in alignment with the 10X philosophy of, “Hey, if you do not put work in, if you are not physically here, if you are not fully present, it is going to be very difficult, if not impossible to grow the way that we wanna grow” — and we’re here to grow!

I want to go back to a quote from that email Elon sent to Tesla employees. “This is less than we ask of factory workers.”

This is why I’m surprised by the 4-day work week folks. They seem to believe that because the work week is shorter, that they’ll be more efficient and productive and have a better work-life balance, but to me, it just sounds like people who are only half in, and I want to work with people who are really committed to this thing!

You’ve got to put in the time, no matter who you are

I want people who really see the opportunities in front of them and willing to put in the time to make it happen. It seems like there’s this middle management mentality that you progress from entry level, to experienced, to a team leader, then maybe you’re on some sort of managerial or executive level track, and then you just, like, coast. 

You’re country club rich so you’re putting in less hours, less effort, and, naturally, you’re making way less of an impact. It’s a cushy, “I’ve earned it” sort of attitude and you’ve lost sight of things. Your expectations for your teams are way higher than they are for yourself. 

That’s just not the gig. No matter what level you’re at, you have to put the work in. 

And that sort of attitude doesn’t at all align with what we’re trying to achieve at Cardone Ventures. We’re after greatness. We’re here to make an impact. We exist to do something big. 

That’s why we follow this model that is similar to the way that Elon runs Tesla. He’s crystal clear about his expectations. Not coming into the office? Then we’ll interpret that as your resignation. Our best work happens here, in the office where we can focus, collaborate, and innovate. 

I think that a lot of companies have been afraid to share similar sentiments. They’ve been letting someone else set the agenda, but you — you — have the ability to set the agenda for how you want your company to run. 

You’re a leader. You need to make decisions like one. 

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s okay to set expectations and be bold in how you state them. Sure, you might have some people who decide to leave because they don’t like your choices, but that’s always been the case. 

Being clear, being decisive, and being a leader, even when those decisions are unpopular, is always something that your team is looking to you to embody. 

In that same email that Musk sent to his team, he talked about how back in 2017 and 2018, Musk was living at Tesla headquarters because the company was struggling to meet production demands. If he hadn’t given all of his time, energy, and attention to the company that time, it surely would have gone bankrupt. 

That’s passion. That’s dedication. Every business deserves a leader that puts in that much time, energy, and passion into them. Since we’re trying to do something incredible at Cardone Ventures, we hold ourselves to the standard of others who are incredible.

If you’re not comparing yourself to people or organizations who have done incredible things, then, to be frank, you’re comparing yourself to the wrong things. 

Don’t be afraid to let people self-self out of your organization

Back when coronavirus first hit, we had no choice but to transition to remote work. In fact, we hired a lot of people during that time. We created a significant amount of growth in the company, so a virtual approach was necessary. 

But the world has drastically changed since then, and we believe that we have the best culture and do the best work when we’re in an office environment together. 

We created a transition plan once we decided it was the right time for everyone to come to the office, and that was a clear determining factor for a lot of those folks as to whether or not they wanted to continue being a part of this company. 

I’m honestly pretty glad that so many people self-selected to leave the organization once we created our return-to-office plan, because we clearly communicated our priorities, they communicated theirs, and we were out of alignment and went our separate ways. 

If you, like they do at Tesla, want to create the most innovative and amazing products and services in your space, then you just can’t phone it in. You’ve got to grind it out, together, to make that a reality. 

3 more important things that Elon reminded me of

There were three really important things I took away from the email from Elon that I want to share, because they’re really important reminders to anyone in a leadership role. 

  1. Don’t feel pressured to do something the same way as everyone else

You don’t have to copy your competitors. In fact, you should focus on differentiating yourself. Unlike Google and Amazon, companies who fully embraced the remote work philosophy, Elon is very plainly and unambiguously telling his workers and the world that an in-office work environment aligns with his vision of who Tesla is. 

How can you apply that same sort of thinking to your own business? Your brand isn’t just your message or product or approach to service, it’s your work environment, too. Don’t try to be like everyone else if it doesn’t align with your mission and vision. 

  1. If you have a real vision, then people will stay.

Do you think that everyone in the Tesla organization loved that email? Of course not. But was there a mass exodus of corporate employees from Tesla? Nope. 

It’s too easy to say that people don’t want to find new jobs or whatever, but can you imagine a more marketable employee than someone who has Tesla on their resume? These people are staying on board because Elon Musk has a vision. Not just for the company, but for the world. 

That’s potent stuff to people who are talented and seeking a way in which they can be a part of something bigger. 

That’s why Grant Cardone’s number one rule is “Show up” and his number two rule is “Show up.”

If you keep showing up, giving it your all, and not giving up, then something is going to happen. 

We foster builders here, and when people show up, day after day, and are held accountable to their performance, incredible things happen. They grow in confidence. Their abilities flourish. They’re growing themselves while growing the business. 

It’s only when you stop showing up that failure occurs. 

  1. Lead with commitment, confidence, and vision

Remember when I said that sometimes I feel vulnerable about the decisions I’m making? Well, I’ve literally written down “WWED?” on a sticky note and placed it on my computer to give myself a reminder of my value as a leader. 

Whenever I’m feeling that I might veer toward questioning myself, I say, “What would Elon do?” to get my head straight. 

I’m reminded that I have the experience to have earned the confidence in my ability to lead this team and to lead this organization to incredible heights. I don’t need to feel apologetic for the decisions I’ve made. In fact, I should feel confident enough in my decisions and statements that I should be willing to promote them, regardless of dispute or controversy. 

That’s what Elon would do. That’s what Grant would do. And, at the end of the day, that’s what I would do, too. How about you?


Want to learn more about building great teams, becoming the leader your organization deserves, and 10Xing your business? Then you need to join me and the Cardone Ventures team at our next event! 

Space goes fast! Register now to secure your spot!

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