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A Phil Hall Op-Ed: There is a new biography coming out tomorrow called “Elon Musk,” and many publishing industry experts are predicting this will be among the year’s top-selling books.

The book’s author is Walter Isaacson, who spent two years following Musk around as part of his research. Simon & Schuster, the book’s publisher, promises a “revealing inside story, filled with amazing tales of triumphs and turmoil, that addresses the question: are the demons that drive Musk also what it takes to drive innovation and progress?”

Of course, that’s a bit on the melodramatic side – why would “demons” be responsible for Musk’s many successes, unless Isaacson uncovered a hitherto unknown Faustian bargain? In reading the advance promotion for the book, I am reminded of a comment that a friend of mine made about how Musk is “the people’s billionaire” – and there might be some truth in that, considering that Musk has been praised as the subject of multiple songs and some of the funkiest paintings ever created.

What makes Musk stand out is that he doesn’t behave in the manner that the typical billionaire executive behaves. Really, can you imagine Jamie Dimon doing a self-parody on “Saturday Night Live” or Warren Buffett doing a rap song about a dead gorilla? And Musk is the rare corporate power whose name is easily identifiable by the general population – seriously, if you stopped 25 people on the street and you asked them to name the CEO of Wells Fargo or Truist or Keller Williams or CBRE, how many of the 25 could answer the question without pause?

On the surface, one might imagine that Musk’s experience has little connection to how real estate professionals conduct their business. But when you stop and give it thought, there are at least five different lessons that real estate professionals can pick up from how Musk conducts himself.

1. Use social media correctly. Many people became acquainted with Musk through his Twitter page, and Twitter became such a successful vehicle for him that he bought the company. Many people labor under the belief that you have to be on every social media site, but Musk shrewdly displayed that it makes more sense to have a strong presence on one page rather than post the same message on six to eight other platforms.

2. Interact on social media. The fun thing about following Musk on social media is that he interacts with both his fans, his detractors and the curious bystanders. Unlike others who use social media as a monologue or a promotional vehicle, Musk uses it as a conversation setting. As for the real estate professionals who don’t generate the same level of response as a Musk tweet, perhaps they should take the initiative and comment on posts on subjects they find intriguing.

3. Be cordial, not familiar. While Musk is a ubiquitous presence on Twitter – or X, as he renamed the platform – he doesn’t go too far into his personal life. He has only shared very few photos of his family and whatever challenges – or “demons,” as Simon & Schuster would say – that upset him are not mentioned. Unlike Musk, too many people use social media to air their grievances, complaints and assorted negativity. Take a lesson from Musk and keep the thornier personal stuff private – especially on a business-related social media account.

4. Don’t be afraid to fail. Musk’s success did not occur overnight and had more than his fair share of business setbacks and self-inflicted wounds. Even today, he is still facing problems regarding his Tesla electric vehicles and his SpaceX rockets. But Musk is smart enough not to define himself by his errors and setbacks, to the point that many of his fans aren’t even aware that he’s messed up on more than one occasion.

5. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Musk was once quoted as saying “I’m not trying to be anyone’s savior. I’m just trying to think about the future and not be sad.” He has the ability to laugh at himself (cue his charming “Saturday Night Live” opening monologue) and spark a sense of the ridiculous without malice (his faux-testosterone fueled “feud” with Mark Zuckerberg that was supposed to be settled in a UFC-style cage match).

Yes, Musk has his detractors, and he has made some comments and decisions that some consider puzzling – personally, I never understood his flirtation with Dogecoin. But, then again, which successful person ever walked through life without critics or haters? I’m looking forward to the new Walter Isaacson book “Elon Musk” – perhaps there are more examples from Musk’s experience that can translate into important lessons.

Phil Hall is editor of Weekly Real Estate News. He can be reached at

Illustration courtesy of Simon & Schuster.