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Elon Musk Knows How to Embarrass/Frame Talent Leaving for a Competitor..

It's been a tough couple of weeks for an iconic leader in America - Elon Musk.

First, he tweeted/floated an idea for taking Tesla public and may face securities fraud charges as a result.  Then he had a rapper over to the house that started live tweeting a bunch of stuff that was unflattering and the beef continues.

But you know what's going well for Musk?  Embarrassing employees who are jumping to Apple (the companies are infamous Musk2 for training development and design talent) by tagging them all a certain way.  Consider this:

"We always jokingly call Apple the 'Tesla Graveyard.' If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I'm not kidding," Musk told German newspaper Handelsblatt in 2015.

CNBC reports that Apple is on a current hiring spree, poaching "scores" of ex-Tesla employees for a variety of projects, citing better pay at the iPhone giant.

If Tesla was doing an Employer Value Proposition (EVP) study, two of the themes would undoubtedly be "we work on the bleeding edge" and "everyone here is all in".

Then culturally, Musk and his direct reports do what they do - framing defections to a world class company/competitor for talent as the "lazy people" or "not good enough to work here".

Love it or hate it, it's an aggressive approach you can learn from.  Our body language and framing when people leave our companies tends to be too passive.

Play offense when talking about turnover.



While Elon is making statements like this, Apple is making profit. Tesla only lost $717 million in Q2 of this year. Anyone at the talent level that Apple would be interested in can see that. It's not that his strategy in terms of talent retention is bad, but the folks that leave he wants to denigrate would say their paycheck disagrees. I think his statement is more for the general public as a way to save face and not so much a way to retain talent. Probably their ex co-workers who knew them know they aren't lazy. If they were lazy, what does that say about his selection process? But at the end of the day I guess he his playing the cards that he has at the moment.

J. Matt Landrum

I think you have to have the right personality to pull this off. Having said that, most CEOs of tech companies this size have that ability.


Hi Matt -

Yeah, and you have to have a major source of talent drain from your company to another company to frame it this way, right?

AC -

Hear you. Post more about framing why people are losing as weaklings more so than the relative merits of working for either company. At one time back in the day, Apple had a pirate flag on top of the building and Jobs was undoubtedly making fun of people who couldn't hack it, and circling the ranks of the true believers. Roles change over time for sure...

Thanks - KD

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