Daily Inspiration: Leadership Mistakes – “Beware the idiot-savant. Their hubris blinds them to their failure.”


“Beware the idiot-savant. Their hubris blinds them to their failure.” – Futurist Jim Carroll

My Daily Inspiration post is supposed to be mostly inspirational, upbeat, motivational, and thought-provoking. I try not to be snippy, moody, pissy. But then along comes the one-year anniversary of Elon Musk taking over what was once a powerful and useful communications network known as Twitter, which is now mostly a stinking pile of garbage known as “X” – and I can’t help myself from taking a shot at him as so many others are doing.

One year in, the number speaks for themselves – with 3 charts from an article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday telling the tale of his so-called ‘brilliance.’

Consider that it takes a special skill to buy a company and then chase away many of your most active users. In a world in which online growth is everything, Musk has managed to ‘de-grow’ the platform with a number of bumbling if not downright idiotic moves, all of which have been covered in so much detail over the last year.

It takes a special skill to decimate your revenue by doing everything you can with the platform to make sure that it becomes such a toxic sewer of sludge that few advertisers of note really want to advertise there.

It takes a special kind of skill to pay $44 billion for something only to see it worth, in some estimates, about $8 billion just a year later. In that vein, let’s not forget the banks and other investors. It takes a special kind of skill to fall prey to the myth of the idiot savant, only to see the value of your equity investment trashed as a result of the actions of said savant.

It’s not worth going into the details of all the damage that he has done in his first year; it’s simple to summarize the results this way. Fewer people want to participate in the network; even fewer advertisers want to advertise there; much of the information on the site has trended to the views of the hate-oriented right-wing vitriol that is common to the owner; reading Twitter today is much like going over to Truth. Social; few people signed up for his monthly fee service – and many of whom promptly hid their participation as the ‘blue badge’ transitioned from an identifier of credibility to a badge of shame. Musk himself has actively prompted his sown posts over others and has actively pursued feeble-minded ideas about Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, and other topics of which he has no real insight. And in doing so, he has pretty much revealed to the world that beneath the veneer of the savvy CEO lies a soul full of right-wing racist hate.


What happens here? Sometime in the last year, I wrote my post about CEO Hubris – it’s worth a read today. You can find it at https://hubris.jimcarroll.com. I summarized my research into 40 years of CEO missteps – actions by idiot savants – into a simple chart that captures it all. Musk ticks every single one of these bullets.

My post about CEO hubris opened with these observations.

Let’s talk about hubris and arrogance.

It kills.

And it happens, a lot.

And now, it happens faster. You can watch CEO arrogance happen live, in real-time – you are probably doing that right now. Think about it – in the olden days, like, 10-20 years ago, it took years, if not decades, to watch organizations like Sears, Kodak, Blockbuster, and Nokia implode. Now, with Twitter, Facebook, and other tech firms, you can watch it happen before your very eyes – at blinding speed!

It’s the Icarus show!

We need to get beyond the myth of the Silicon Valley executive as the omnipotent, all-seeing, all-aware visionary who always succeeds at everything and fails at nothing. We need to rip away that veneer of success and expose their ineptness, idiocy, and mistakes. We need to keep in mind that while we believe they will always operate in the bright light of success, their arrogance and hubris will often cause them to fall into the darkness of stupidity that defines their actual incompetence.

Beware the idiot-savant.

They are all around you – and people fall prey to their spell all too often.



THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.