Billionaire investor Ron Baron: Here's the mindset that's made Elon Musk so successful

Ron Baron, Chairman & CEO of Baron Capital.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Billionaire investor Ron Baron has high hopes for Tesla. He also has high hopes for Tesla's CEO and fellow billionaire Elon Musk.

In an interview with CNBC's Squawk Box, the investor explains why Musk has been so successful thus far: his "why not" mindset.

"What [Elon Musk] does, it reminded me a little of Robert Kennedy," says Baron, who has been a long-time investor in Tesla.

In a 1968 speech, Kennedy said, "Some people see things as they are and say, 'Why?' I dream things that never were and say, 'Why not?'"

"[Musk] is a guy who thinks about things that never were and says, 'Why not?'" Baron explains.

Elon Musk
Getty Images

Baron notes that when you have a "why not" mindset like Musk, you make big bets and take on things that most people think are impossible, which often leads to stressful scenarios.

In October, for example, the Tesla CEO tweeted that he was in the eighth circle of hell and more recently took the blame for his company's production delays of the Tesla Model 3.


"It's not easy to do what he's doing," says Baron. "He's doing the hard things."

The investor compares Musk's role at Tesla to launching a new restaurant. "You open up a restaurant and you serve hamburgers, I mean everyone can do that," he says. "You can't do what he's doing."

He points to Musk's history of innovation and success in his prior businesses.

"His history is that he built a business when he was a young man and sold it for $10 or $15 million. Built Paypal, sold it for $150 million," says Baron. "He could have retired but he took everything and put it at risk to develop electric cars."

Tesla Model 3
Source: Tesla

Barons explains that this "why not" mentality has put Musk "out there...doing something that's never been done before" with his venture into electric cars.

The investor gives another example of Musk's ability to question the status quo. Historically, says Baron, cars have been made with a lot of labor and, later on, robots. When Musk first launched Tesla he saw things differently.

"He looks around and says 'Gee. This is how fast a human walks and this is how fast a robot walks...Why do we have the robots going this speed, why can't we have them go five times as fast?'" says the investor.

Baron explains that constantly asking "why not" has not only made the tech CEO extremely successful but it has ultimately put him far ahead of others in his industry.

"All these other automobile companies will have to do this sooner or later but he's doing this now," says the billionaire investor. "They can't catch him."

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook.

See also:

Why Elon Musk might be right about his artificial intelligence warnings

Here's why Tesla adding this CEO to its board is a big deal

Elon Musk's No. 1 tip for up-and-coming leaders

Ebony's Linda Johnson Rice joins Tesla's board of directors
Ebony's Linda Johnson Rice joins Tesla's board of directors