Thoughts on Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Thoughts on Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

I just finished a Elon Musk's biography written by Ashlee Vance. Just speculating few thoughts on this amazing human being.

Musk appears as a guy who was physically abused and mentally tortured in the childhood. Despite of all the difficulties he had to face he comes back a champion. If you look at his childhood, 99% of people in the similar condition would have taken who cares approach and kept on living their mediocre life. But Musk does not stop there. He knows that he has potential. Having written brilliant game in basic at the age of 11 is no tiny achievement.

Even when he relocates to Canada which he is citizen of by mother's side, all the odds are against him. I would think having gotten admission at prestigious University is all my life's aim and I should stop making bigger ambitions. But he starts business shortly, meeting new people and contemplating over possible viable business model.

When he sold zip2 he had some money with which he founded got merged with PayPal few years later. PayPal was then bought by eBay for $1.5B which he received $165M. These $165M were in turn invested in the foundation of Tesla and SpaceX. Who would do that. We hear Think Big so many times, but how many people do really Think Big? It's just cliche for many of us. Even he was on the verge of losing everything, he kept pushing. He had clear path on his dream and vision which he trusted completely.

Another thing is an eye for absolute top talent. When Tesla and SpaceX were founded, establishing car company and space organization were considered one of the impossible tasks. But he still used his prowess to pickpocket best people in car and space technology by hook or crook. These were the people who were troubled by lack of innovation in their jobs and excessive bureaucracy which hindered their ability to innovate. Musk made sure to give this opportunity to them. It was symbiotic relationship which benefitted Musk as well.

Like Steve Jobs, he also liked to push people beyond their limits. When he would set a goal and someone said this is impossible, he would in turn dive himself in that task, ask specific questions and hear reasoning behind why that is impossible or would take more than estimated timeframe. It's so much guts that sometimes he would take over task from any department, be its manager and show to naysayers that it could be done in established timeframe. This is the real image of innovator, motivator and leader Musk is.

As with all the successful people, Musk was not Mr. Nice guy. He had his share of feud and arguments. It cost him too many people but not too much to lose most of the talent he had. No doubt he was in top 10% intelligent category, but his inclination to meddle with engineers, scientists and marketing people led to many nasty encounters. I heard the story that when someone would challenge Musk about their significance to them, he would challenge back that he can do without them. Like sending someone on the vacation for few weeks. When they came back, he would be all happy and let them know

See, I managed everything just fine in your absence. I perfect practice to prove his point

You can imagine next what happens to that person as a company employee.

It just takes guts to build things where entire industry is against you, you are betting your house, car, jet and possible money behind the venture which industry veterans are sure to do doomed. Poaching best people, pushing them to their limit, not get withdrawn due to frequent failures and learning from past mistakes are few things Musk made successful today. The guy is a machine.

In my day to day life, I have started taking Musk like approach. Set an unrealistic goals, concentrate deeply on the task and do everything to achieve it in timely manner. If not, your time goes into negative which is a penalty in the future run. I usually set a timer and devote amount of base and extended time for a task. It in fact boosted my productivity in interesting tasks. Clear example of me preparing 3 recipes in the matter of 2 hours including preparation and kitchen cleaning