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How Tesla and Grateful Dead are One In the Same


Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Nov 8, 2012
Background: music is life. When I lost my father at age 12, music got me into through those rough years and early adulthood. So when I see parallels in music and other passions in my life, it excites me to no end.

My friend got me into Grateful Dead a little over a year ago now. It took a few listens, but once I'm hooked on something, I go hard. I've listened to tons of shows repeatably and basically infused myself into this band - learning what the lyrics mean, the band members styles, what the music meant to a generation that was before me.

My friend recommended me read this book, Everything I Know About Business I Learned from the Grateful Dead: The Ten Most Innovative Lessons from a Long, Strange Trip, which I just finished and I saw so many similarities that I had to share my thoughts in case it would help show a little more light on this awesome band.

I have tried to keep this as concise as possible with just bullet points so it gets straight to the point and you won't get bored.

Here it is:

How Tesla and Grateful Dead are One In the Same

  • Strategic Improvisation - The authors definition is “blending planning and doing while staying alert, alive to fluid situations”

GD - using this method in business, marketing, and customer service

Tela – using the Agile method, updating the production lines on the fly, shifting direction when necessary (ex. Going from Nivida AI chips to creating their own)

  • Innovation

GD – Put their money back into the business in the form of lights, sounds, instruments

Ex. The “Wall of Sound” – Created to address sound problems

Tesla – Same thing – putting their money back in the business in the form of R&D and expansion

Ex. From the car itself – to chemistry in the batteries – to the drivetrain – to the manufacturing lines – to the factory building – to the process of buying a car

  • Customer Demand

GD – ’91 recession concert business was off by 25%, Dead became top-grossing act – representing 99.4% of all available seats

Tesla – sold more than any of automaker during the COVID-19 situation

  • Values

GD – “And think about moving the whole human race ahead a step or a few steps” – Garcia

Tesla – Mission is “ to accelerate the world’s transition to renewable energy”

  • Share Content

GD – Let fans tape their show and spread the music

Tesla – “All Our Patent Are Belong To You” – Tesla released its patents for others to use – “They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.”
All Our Patent Are Belong To You

  • Collaboration
GD – created a connection early on with their fans that created a long-lasting customer base

Tesla – ditto

  • Insourcing
GD – Brought in a concert venue, recording company, and ticketing operations.

Tesla – Vertical integrated factories, about to include manufacturing their own batteries

  • Encourage Employees to lead

GD – Employees could give their opinion on the direction of the band and what processes worked best

Tesla – Elon has said on multiple times, and on the last conference call (Q2 ’20) that if an employee has a better way of doing it on the production line please speak up and that would help with the engineering aspect as well

Ex. Two internals helped fixed the Model 3 ramp-up during its initial phase

  • Experience Economy

GD – Being present in the moment on stage to give a truly genuine music experience / Focused on the art of music and not the money

Tesla – Driving the car itself is an experience to the product, something that is new to our way of life / Creating software that allows you to enjoy watchable content and play video games / And of course, Elon has never focused on the money aspect, always striving to make better, cheaper, cars and products that helps drive the mission.
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