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The Most Valuable Apology of All Time

Honestly, I have no idea what kind of leader Elon Musk is. What I do know is the apology he made during Tesla’s August 2018 earnings call was amazing – and an example of what great leaders do. One analyst called it “maybe the most valuable apology of all time.”

He had so badly fumbled the prior call analysts were wondering if his erratic behavior was a sign of things to come. He went so far as to call one line of questions “boring” and “bone-headed”. The stock tanked… and so did his reputation. 

Analysts were holding their breath when the next call started. To everyone’s surprise, he took ownership for what happened and addressed it head-on. First, he apologized to everyone on the call for his prior behavior. Then, he apologized specifically to the analyst he had personally insulted. The stock shot up 8.5%, instantly adding nearly $4.75 billion to the stocks value. 

But he didn’t stop with the apology. He went on to run the conference call so well many believed it to be the best investor call in the company’s history. That’s 100% Responsibility.

Every time we make a mistake we have a choice:

  • Blame, complain and make excuses

  • Take 100% Responsibility, apologize and move on to a solution

The first virtually guarantees we’ll stay stuck – always to our detriment. The second frees us to focus on solutions and moves us forward. 100% Responsibility isn’t an easy concept. But it always leads to freedom.


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