Elon Musk Had a Private Meeting With Volkswagen’s CEO. It’s a Brilliant Lesson in Emotional Intelligence

Inc. | Justin Bariso | Nov 3, 2020

musk 300x263 - Elon Musk Had a Private Meeting With Volkswagen's CEO. It's a Brilliant Lesson in Emotional Intelligence It was a late night in September, 9:44 p.m., to be exact. At a very small airport, in a German city most have never heard of, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess patiently waited for the arrival of a special guest: Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Musk had arrived in Germany a few days earlier to visit the construction site of Tesla's new Gigafactory in Berlin, followed by meetings with German politicians and work on another Tesla-related project. But before heading home, Musk made time to take Volkswagen's new entry into the electric vehicle space, the VW ID.3, out for a spin.

See: Elon Musk says orders to stay home are ‘fascist’ in expletive-laced rant during Tesla earnings call

"You know, this is a mainstream car," Diess reminded Musk. "Not a race machine."

"Yeah, I just wanted to see what the acceleration is like," responded Musk. "What's the worst that could happen?" Musk asked, slamming his foot on the acceleration pedal.

 

Although unimpressed with its speed, Musk agreed that the steering was pretty good--"for a non-sporty car." A few questions followed, after which Musk pulled the car back into an airport hangar, taking a quick look at the car's exterior as he walked away.

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On the surface, it was a chummy meeting between friendly rivals. A chance for one CEO to show off his company's newest product, and the other to check out the competition.

Or was it?

Let's consider briefly why this recent meeting between Musk and Diess is more than meets the eye--and teaches a brilliant lesson in emotional intelligence, the ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you.

See: The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

Musk's praise for Volkswagen's new entry-level electric vehicle, while not exactly effusive, shouldn't come as surprising to those who follow him. In fact, you could argue that VW is falling right in line with Musk's own plan and stated goals.

"Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world's factories every day," wrote Musk.

Fast-forward just six years, and the unthinkable has happened.

Tesla's share price has skyrocketed, with a market cap higher than Volkswagen's, Toyota's, and GM's combined. With a major shift in society's views on sustainable energy and electric vehicles, legacy automakers are scrambling to push their own EV platforms forward.

 

 

 

 


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