Before reading this book, I had no idea who Elon Musk is. Apparently he is very, very famous. If you know who Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are, you’d have to know Elon. But to borrow a line from Rui En, that is, if Elon asked me “Do you know who I am?”, I’d definitely say I have no clue. 😀 But I’m already a fan of one of his companies, even though I didn’t know he’s a co-founder! Haha!
Long story short, he’s actually a co-founder of PayPal, among other companies. He has a net worth of approximately USD13.5 billion. And what is probably his most radical idea is the one about having a human colony on the planet Mars. Like, seriously, men are from Mars? He has had two wives. He had six sons with his first wife; his very first child died not long after being born. As for the second wife, they got married, then divorced, then got married again, and yes, got divorced again. Simply put, Elon Musk is not your average guy.
After reading this book, anyone who had wanted to compare Elon with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates will have other ideas, because Elon is clearly in a league of his own.
Here’s how he is very different from most of us:
- He was likely born a genius. He could concentrate intensely on a single task, had a “compulsion to read” and had a photographic memory. (However, he was also bullied relentlessly in school.)
- He has a maniacal work ethic. He thinks that if there’s a way of getting nutrients without sitting down for a meal, he’d take it, so he would not have to waste any time that he could otherwise use on work. He even pees quickly.
- He doesn’t necessarily believe in crafting a career out of your passion. Even though he has a huge interest in video games, he wanted to pursue a career in an area he could have a “big impact”, i.e. something that would change the world. He challenges us to think about ‘What industry can you disrupt?’
- While most people struggle to build up one successful business, he’s had many successes. Among them are Zip2, PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity.
- He turns conventional wisdom on its head. In 2014, Tesla announced that it would open-source all its patents. The company was essentially encouraging more competition.
- He believes in lowering costs by making everything in-house if possible. Yes, that includes even building rockets themselves!
- He’s been through a lot. Besides bullying in school, there’s also his tough upbringing, a coup in one of his companies, he nearly died from malaria, his first son’s sudden death at ten weeks old, his first wife’s blog which became a PR nightmare for him, and how his companies had once been on the brink of bankruptcy and he had to sell prized possessions to generate cash.
- He’d rather die than fail. He told one venture capitalist: “My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku than fail.”
- He’s an unusual boss. He would play video games with employees and trash them at it.
- He eliminates obstacles. If you’re his employee and if your glasses keep getting in the way of your work, he’ll pay for your Lasik treatment.
- He redefines “micro-management”. You are in real danger of losing your job, when your boss takes over for a week or two just to see if you are as indispensable to the company as you say, and then you realize he can do your job better than you can.
- He’s REALLY hands-on. He interviews just about everyone, from the janitors to the technicians. I wonder if he has just 24 hours a day, like the rest of us.
- He uses more of his brain. Co-workers marvel at “his abilities to absorb incredible quantities of information with near-flawless recall.”
- He comes up with jaw-dropping ideas, e.g. reuseable rockets, electric cars that can be recharged for free (and even having robots replace battery packs, and autopilot functions for your car).
To me, it seems like Elon Musk has led the lives of multiple men, not just one. The way he manages large companies at the same time is just incredible. Without discounting Steve Jobs’ awesome creations, I’d have to say that Elon’s mission is just mind-blowing. And based on what he’s doing, I do think we have a very real chance of exploring other planets even before we are done with exploring Earth. And with global warming and its horrendous effects, I have to admit that yes, Earth might one day not be conducive for human life. And we’ll have no choice but to check out other planets if we want to survive.
I highly recommend that you check out this book by Ashlee Vance. He must have done so much work to put together this 382-page book about Elon Musk, especially since the latter had refused to cooperate at the start. LOL. Before I read the book, I knew nothing about Elon. Now, I’m in awe. 😀