At Tesla’s Shareholder Meeting, Elon Musk Made a Surprising Revelry About Success

Like almost everything about the company, Tesla’s annual shareholder meetings are, well, different. For one, people actually participate.

Yes, I know, there are people who attend shareholder meetings for other public companies, but those people are usually there because they are paid to be there. They’re not loud, and they’re usually not happy when the company’s CEO takes the stage. Oh, and those meetings aren’t usually held on a huge floor.

Tesla, on the other hand, has an annual meeting. And, the room is usually full of Tesla owners, who also own Tesla stock because it gives them the privilege to question Elon Musk. After all, this is the reason for their coming.

Yes, they get to vote on proposals, but if you’ve ever seen live stream In one of these meetings, you don’t get the sense that the people who are there have come to exercise a little shareholder democracy. They are there because they are superfans.

Apparently, the highlight is when Musk takes the stage. Every time he opens his mouth, the comments are usually a stream of consciousness – meaning he can say anything. For example, Musk hinted that the next version of the company’s full self-driving beta software could jump from 10.12 to 10.69, for no other reason than to make a crude joke.

Musk also detailed the highlights of the past year, but first of all he said something interesting. In fact, it was even the first time he took the stage:

“It’s been an amazing year, the Tesla team has done amazing work,” Musk said. “Being able to work with a super talented group of people and create great products and build those products and deliver them to people and make people happy with those products – that is one of the best things in life.”

By all accounts, Tesla is a remarkable company. There are now over 3 million Tesla electric vehicles (EVs) on the road. That’s saying a lot considering most of its competitors — at least, those currently shipping real cars — are counting deliveries in the three or four digits.

For example, Lucid has just said it will miss its target of delivering 20,000 vehicles this year. This 7,000 now. expected to give, At most. Tesla gave 200,000. more than Last quarter alone.

I think it’s worth mentioning that — before talking about the company’s achievements — the first thing he did was to give credit to the people who worked at Tesla. There is no doubt that the company would not be anywhere near as successful as it is without the work of those employees, and they deserve to publicly acknowledge their leader.

To be fair, Tesla has received plenty of criticism over claims of discrimination and poor treatment of employees. Musk himself faced backlash from employees over his leadership as well as his public battle with Twitter, which he said would buy out before backing down.

However, if you look at all the distractions, there is a very powerful leadership lesson here. Every startup starts with an idealistic vision of doing something worthwhile. This is the fuel that helps young companies gain traction.

Somewhere along the way, though, “the best thing in life” turns into “let’s just figure out how to survive long enough to ship.” It’s not a criticism, it’s really hard to build a company. Musk himself hasn’t been shy about the struggles faced by Tesla, once saying that shipping the Model 3 nearly bankrupted the company.

I really think that’s what Musk made a point of pointing out to his team. There’s something about walking out of a hole that makes you appreciate the people who were climbing with you.

So, despite all the distractions, it’s worth paying attention to the text here. According to Musk, the best thing in life is to create things that make people happy with the team you like. I think this is a very good definition.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.