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  • [MUSIC]

  • To sum up, we've had an amazing ride here at Tesla.

  • And I'm so excited to lead this company into the future.

  • With that, I'll take any questions from the audience.

  • Yes. >> Mr.

  • Musk, I am a very tiny shareholder with only [INAUDIBLE] two shares.

  • But as all the other investors in this room, I'm mainly interested in one thing.

  • You guys have not made a single penny yet.

  • When is this company gonna become profitable?

  • >> Uhh.

  • >> Stop.

  • >> [LAUGH] >> You all know what this feels like,

  • don't you?

  • And this is not where you want to be.

  • Today we will provide you with one of your last lessons at the GSB,

  • a lesson on how to answer tough business questions.

  • There are three types of tough business questions.

  • The first are those questions for which you do not have an answer.

  • The second are those questions for which you cannot provide an answer.

  • And the third are those questions for which you are guilty as charged.

  • We will provide you with an example of each one of these questions and

  • then offer some suggestions on how to best address each of those questions.

  • But first, I would like to offer credit to Jerry Weissman's book,

  • In the Line of Fire, from which we synthesized many of these suggestions.

  • So what does it look like when you don't know the answer to a question?

  • When is your Hawaii office opening?

  • I'm looking for a job.

  • >> Are you kidding me?

  • I'm the CEO of Tesla, for crying out loud.

  • I have better things to worry about.

  • Maybe August or December.

  • >> Stop. >> [LAUGH]

  • >> There is a much

  • better way to address a question for which you do not have an answer.

  • First, begin by rephrasing or restating the question as you best understood it.

  • This will do two things.

  • It'll ensure that the audience member feels heard, but it will also confirm for

  • you the question for which you must ultimately provide an answer.

  • Second, no audience member expects you to be a walking encyclopedia.

  • So if you don't know the answer, admit it.

  • You really have nothing to gain and have everything to lose by lying.

  • If you lie, you provide inaccurate information and

  • you risk damaging your reputation.

  • Finally, best practice is to actually commit to following up, and do follow up.

  • You can even demonstrate this intent by asking for

  • that audience member's business card or contact information.

  • So let's try that again.

  • When do you open your Hawaii office?

  • I'm looking for a job.

  • >> So you want to know when you might be able to apply for a job in Hawaii?

  • To be honest, I don't know exactly when our Hawaii office will be opening.

  • However, I do know that we are rapidly expanding all across the globe and

  • are looking for talented individuals in many locations.

  • I do actually have my head of HR, Leslie, here with me.

  • She'd be happy to meet with you after this presentation.

  • She'd know when the Hawaii office will be opening and

  • she'd be happy to answer any other questions that you might have.

  • >> Now, what do you do if you receive a question to which you cannot answer,

  • maybe because of confidentiality reasons?

  • Let's try this.

  • Mr. Musk, can you comment on your negotiations with local state

  • authorities in the jurisdictions where Tesla cannot currently open any stores?

  • Have you made any political contributions in those states maybe?

  • >> Of course.

  • We'd be silly not to.

  • We have a good friend, an old fraternity brother of the CFO, Jerry Arlen.

  • He's in Texas, and conveniently he sits on the Texas Transportation Board.

  • >> [LAUGH] >> Needless to say,

  • we think we have pretty strong negotiating leverage with the auto dealers there.

  • We're currently in negotiations to get full access to sell in the state of Texas,

  • and it should be done in a couple of weeks.

  • >> Wow, I'm sure Jerry Arlen will love to see this back on television tonight.

  • >> [LAUGH] >> First,

  • if your company policy states that you cannot share any information, just say so.

  • Everyone knows that certain information cannot be shared, and

  • no one will be surprised by that.

  • However, try to do so in a positive way, rather than saying our company

  • does not share this kind of information, try to say our company policy only

  • allows to share information that has been previously released in press releases.

  • Second, if you can't share certain information, give a reason for

  • why you can't share that information.

  • You can attribute this to privacy or security or data sensitivity, for example.

  • Third, if you have any extra relevant information to share, do so

  • with your audience.

  • And last but not least,

  • never ever answer this question by saying if I tell you I'll have to kill you.

  • So let's try that again.

  • Mr. Musk, can you comment on your negotiations with local state

  • authorities in jurisdictions where Tesla cannot open any store currently?

  • Did you make any political contributions in those states maybe?

  • >> So we want customers to be able to buy a Tesla wherever they live.

  • And as you allude to, unfortunately that's not today's reality.

  • However, we are in negotiations with several state authorities across

  • the United States, and we're working hard to bring Tesla customers those cars.

  • However, to keep open and honest negotiations,

  • it's our policy not to comment on ongoing discussions.

  • But I can assure you that we're working tirelessly to allow every customer to be

  • able to buy a Tesla where they live.

  • >> That was way better.

  • You're doing well, but you're not of the hook yet.

  • >> [LAUGH] >> I still have one more question for

  • you, and word of advice for you.

  • What should you do if the questioner has a valid point?

  • What if we asked something that points out one of your weaknesses?

  • So let's try this.

  • Mr. Musk, how do you expect anyone to buy a car from you if they

  • are expected to spend 75 minutes at a charging station?

  • >> Did you get this information from the University of Phoenix?

  • >> [LAUGH] >> Who let this bozo in here?

  • No, our customers have shown no reticence to buy cars

  • if they take a long time to charge.

  • We have no problems with this at all.

  • >> How would you feel if you were the questioner?

  • How would you feel if a valued concern is dismissed in this way?

  • I will explain to you a better way of answering, a different way of answering.

  • First, paraphrase the questioner and

  • reframe the question in a way that you show that you listened.

  • And you change the tone of the question to make it more positive,

  • to make it most promising.

  • Then agree with the questioner.

  • He has a valid point.

  • Show him that you're on his side.

  • You're not an opponent.

  • And then say loud and clear but, and

  • make a U-turn to change the tone of the answer

  • in a positive way, so you can present evidence

  • to defend your own position while still acknowledging the existence of this issue.

  • And finally, you have to conclude with a strong statement.

  • So again, Mr. Musk, I will give you a second chance.

  • How do you expect people to buy a car

  • if they are expected to spend 75 minutes at a charging station?

  • >> What I'm hearing from you is that you have a concern that people might not wanna

  • purchase a Tesla if it takes a long time to recharge.

  • I think that's a valid concern, and

  • it's something that I spend a lot of time thinking about.

  • Currently it takes about 40 minutes for us to give the car an 80% car.

  • And the 75 minutes you mentioned is for a full charge.

  • But we've been working really hard and

  • have taken several important steps to try to mitigate this issue.

  • Firstly, we just introduced battery swaps, where people can come into a station and

  • switch in a new battery in 90 seconds.

  • That's faster than filling up a tank of gas.

  • And secondly, we're constantly working to improve our battery technology.

  • And as we can charge the car faster, we're gonna get people out on the road faster,

  • and more and more people will wanna buy our amazing vehicles.

  • >> That was the answer I wanted to hear the first time.

  • >> [LAUGH] >> Congratulations.

  • So, let's recap.

  • What did we learn today?

  • We learned how to answer three questions.

  • When you don't know the answer, say so and offer follow up.

  • When you can't answer, just don't, but

  • always provide a reasonable explanation for not answering.

  • And when the questioner has a valid point, admit guilt.

  • It's fine.

  • It's good to connect with them.

  • But you have to spend enough time to defend your position and

  • to explain why the concern has been addressed.

  • We have seen him, how he evolved throughout the presentation.

  • He has successfully answered three questions, and

  • he's ready to take the fourth one from you.

  • >> [LAUGH]

  • [MUSIC]

[MUSIC]

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Answering Tough Questions

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    Christina Yang posted on 2017/03/16
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