You Either Die A Hero, Or You Live Long Enough To See Yourself Become The Villain

Today we are witnessing how brands and their creators merge into one, and sometimes it is difficult to separate where the person ends and the vision, dream, and what it represents begins.

Therefore, the entrepreneurs are the new celebrities, back in the day, a person willingly renounced to his privacy and positioned himself in the spotlight if he was recognized as the action hero of the summer blockbuster, or the singer who filled stadiums and sold records in bulk.

Today, the focus is on the geniuses that decide to undertake ventures and either manage to sell their companies for billions of dollars, or the leaders that impact billions of lives on a daily basis, or simply the ones who ring the bell on Wall Street the day they set their footprint in the stock market.

I believe that this recognition is more than deserved, these great minds engrave their ideologies on their companies and strive everyday for their vision to materialize. Whats more, sometimes it is difficult to determine what is most relevant to their success, whether their brightness or their charm, or if the latter is a reflection of success or the ideal. Without a doubt, what many of us see in them, besides their dazzling vision, is the resilience to achieve it, the execution.

“Vision without execution is hallucination” — Thomas Edison.

The previous quote is one of my favorites, attributed to the prolific inventor Thomas Alva Edison. After a bit of research (yes I Googled it) there seems to be a debate about whether or not he said it. While researching the origin of several motivational phrases for entrepreneurs, I think that, in the case of Edison, for each phrase that he did not actually said, he has a patent that you did not know was his. For the record, he registered over 1,093 patents in the US, and 2,332 globally.

Talking about Thomas Edison we can mention another of his creations, the multinational conglomerate General Electric, one of the first companies to be part of the Dow Jones index. This company, which held a leading role in the industrialization of the US, and much of the world, during the twentieth century, seems to be going through difficult times after dragging several years of sales and profits contractions. In June, its shares were removed from the Dow index, after having remained uninterruptedly as a constituent since 1907. This company has managed to maintain relevance for more than 126 years, and extended part of the genius of Edison, after his death, for 87 years and counting.

Investigating a little about Edison’s life, it’s impossible not to come across the names of other brilliant and visionary minds of the time, like Vanderbilt, Morgan, and Henry Ford. The latter was Edison’s friend and neighbor, and even worked for him for a time as an engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company. And since we somehow get to the auto industry we can talk about Elon Musk.

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Elon from Tony Stark to Harvey Dent…

Public opinion has positioned this bright mind from our times as a superhero, philanthropist, space conqueror, and even sometimes as a villain.

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“You Either Die A Hero, Or You Live Long Enough To See Yourself Become The Villain” — Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight (2008).

To recent dates, Elon’s vocal attitude in social networks, and even in conference calls with analysts, has raised eyebrows regarding his emotional intelligence with which he has treated criticism after being questioned about Tesla’s results.

There are those who believe that being in the spotlight of a public company forces its executives to deliver consistent results in the short term. Regardless of believing that the results would be achieved in the long term, and the pressure of meeting the requirements for public companies, there are those who consider that a private company has more freedoms.

Private companies, such as Uber and Airbnb, have not tapped the market, despite reaching considerable valuations. It seems that liquidity in private equity markets and venture funds have created the ideal ecosystem for the incubation of revolutionary companies.

On August 7, Elon Musk commented on his twitter account that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share, which would imply a $71.6 billion valuation.

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Even without knowing the outcome of this story, it must be recognized that the race for the adoption of electric cars globally has accelerated dramatically since the appearance of Elon Musk on the scene, and we should bear that in mind.

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