Musk took business advice from a 10 year old — and it worked
Even superstar CEOs need help from the rest of us.
With an estimated net worth of $16 billion, you’d think the last place a CEO like Tesla’s Elon Musk would solicit business advice would be from a 10-year-old. But that’s just what he did. Earlier this year, Palo Alto-based fifth grader Bria Loveday sent Musk a letter, recommending that Tesla run a social media contest to recognize the best homemade commercials featuring the brand’s eco-friendly cars. When her dad tweeted out a copy of the note, the tech magnate was all about her idea and even code-named the contest “ “Project Loveday.”
Thank you for the lovely letter. That sounds like a great idea. We'll do it! https://t.co/ss2WmkOGyk
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 2, 2017
Just last week, Musk tweeted out the top three winners and had Bria speak at Tesla’s Model 3 handover event. “It was the largest automotive event in history, and we were there, compliments of Tesla. It was a truly amazing experience,” Bria’s father, Steven Loveday, told Moneyish. Loveday also tipped his hat to Musk on social media.
This isn’t the first time a CEO has taken advice from his followers online. Here are five other instances when CEOs and celebs have asked their followers what they would do.
1. Jeff Bezos asks for philanthropic suggestions: In June, the Amazon CEO asked his then-222,000 Twitter followers for ideas on how he could donate some of his $80 billion fortune to charity.
Request for ideas… pic.twitter.com/j6D68mhseL
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) June 15, 2017
Bezos heard from ordinary followers and organizations like Feeding America and Human Rights Watch, all asking for support. Previously, Bezos had faced criticism for giving less than other billionaires to charity. When asked what charitable efforts Bezos may undertake in the wake of that Twitter chat, representatives for Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
2. Brian Chesky asks for Airbnb advice for 2017: In December 2016, the co-founder and CEO of international accommodations platform Airbnb asked his Twitter community for help.
If @Airbnb could launch anything in 2017, what would it be?
— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) December 26, 2016
Suggestions poured in, with recommendations ranging from paying to have a house pre-stocked with food to providing booking guarantees for alternative accommodations if a host cancels last minute on a guest. Chesky took time to respond to many of the suggestions, and requested that some followers email him personally with their ideas.
Chesky appears committed to taking advice from his customers: Airbnb told Moneyish that Chesky went on a six-city trip earlier this year to talk directly to the community. And the company also gives Airbnb hosts a chance to weigh in with feedback, including quarterly live chats hosted by Chesky.
3. Jack Dorsey asks for Twitter advice for 2017: The Twitter CEO took a page from Chesky’s book recently.
Following in the footsteps of Brian Chesky: what's the most important thing you want to see Twitter improve or create in 2017? #Twitter2017
— jack (@jack) December 29, 2016
However, one of the most commonly suggested changes was an edit button — something Twitter still doesn’t offer.
This is our most requested feature (today & always). Mostly to quickly fix mistakes. Anything beyond would need to show revision history https://t.co/fHtGNjkuEx
— jack (@jack) December 29, 2016
Still, Dorsey confirmed that an edit button is “[definitely] needed,” in a later post, saying the company had taken steps to address a number of user concerns, like the length of videos past 2 minutes and 20 seconds, and increased security precautions. Representatives for Twitter did not immediately respond when asked what changes inspired by this chat, if any, were included in its recent revamp in June.
In response to a controversy over reports of the site’s changing algorithm last year though, Dorsey jumped into the fray, with some conciliatory words for users vocally expressing their concerns.
Thank you all for your passion and trust. We will continue to work to earn it, and we will continue to listen, and talk!
— jack (@jack) February 6, 2016
4. Mark Zuckerberg asks for New Year’s resolutions: On December 30, 2014, as most were closing up shop for the year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was brainstorming about what his 2015 personal challenge would be. And, hoping to get some good advice from his own Facebook community, he opened it up for discussion. “[Every] year I take on a challenge to broaden my work at Facebook,” he wrote on the site. “In past years, some of my challenges have been: “Learning to speak Mandarin… Being a vegetarian… [and] Wearing a tie.” Zuckerberg later wrote on Facebook that he received over 50,000 suggestions, with the winning one coming from user Cynthia Greco — for Zuckerberg “to read a new book every other week — with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories, and technologies.”
My challenge for 2015 is to read a new book every other week — with an emphasis on learning about different cultures,…
He invited Facebook users to follow along by creating the interactive book club “A Year of Books,” which included titles like The End of Power and Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
5. Jason Mraz asks Twitter for music video direction: In 2012, singer Jason Mraz asked his followers to dream up scenarios for the music video for his new single “The Woman I Love.” Winners’ ideas helped shape the video, and authors of the selected tweets even got shout-outs during the video itself. Kazumi Zatkin contributed her idea of love to the video, writing in a tweet: “#MrazingTheVideo Finding an eternity in each moment 2gether, finding immortality in mortality. Believing in unconditional love”
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