On my drives to work for the past two weeks, I listened to the audiobook titled Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance. I loved listening to this and learning about entrepreneur Elon Musk’s journey. Now, I’m convinced his story is relevant to each one of us.
If you already know a significant amount about Elon Musk, then skip ahead to the heading Lessons From Musk For Your Career. If you don’t know much about him, then keep reading.
Brief Summary Of Elon Musk
In Elon Musk, the author interviews Musk, his family, his friends, and coworkers about the major events that contributed to the makeup of Elon and his work.
We quickly learn that Musk didn’t have a good childhood. Other students bullied him at school (one day, guys pushed him down a set of stairs and kicked him at the bottom) and his father emotionally abused him. Yet, these experiences gave Musk perseverance to get through other difficult moments. And because of this, he developed a high pain tolerance (like working 100-hour weeks under intense stress for months).
In 1995, Elon Musk cofounded Zip2 (a mapping software, before the time and similar to a combination of Google Maps and Yelp) and came out with $22 million dollars after selling it. In 1999, he cofounded X.com (a financial services and online payment company), which eventually merged with PayPal. Three years later, eBay bought PayPal and Musk pocketed $165 million.
He went on to spend almost his entire fortune on founding two companies—Tesla (an electric car company) and SpaceX (a space company wanting to establish human life on Mars). Musk is currently the CEO of both companies.
Elon Musk is special because he renewed the importance of developing technology to advance human life at a time when other Silicon Valley startups were only focused on making a quick dollar. Musk is driven to improve society through preserving energy consumption and giving the human race multi-planetary living.
The rest of the book details how no entrepreneur is as ambitious and capable to deliver as Elon Musk. And the book concludes with testimonies that argue Elon is more important to society than Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. (Because this summary is not anywhere near extensive, you can buy the book on Amazon if you want.)
I’m deeply fascinated with Elon Musk because of his potential to truly change the world as we know it. However, I’m currently more interested in applying the lessons and strategies from his story to help our career success.
Lessons From Musk For Your Career
1. Always continue learning
As a kid, Elon read every book he could find at his home, the library, and local bookstores. Because he enjoyed learning to that high of a degree, Elon moved on to reading encyclopedias after he ran out of new books in his school’s library.
Now as CEO of a rocket company and an electric car company (both not his formal background), he drills his top engineers with questions until he understands the core concepts and technologies of projects.
2. Work incredibly hard
Being the CEO of one multi-billion dollar company carries a brutal amount of work with it. However, Musk is the CEO of two multi-billion dollar companies. Musk often works seven days a week and used to work 100-hour weeks.
In one section of the audiobook, Musk said he feels he needs to continually work because time is limited and he doesn’t want to miss out on his opportunity to save the human race. He has a point that our time is short.
If you’re wondering how he accomplished these amazing feats, a major factor is how much effort over time he gave to his companies.
3. Surround yourself with the right people
Musk focused to an intense degree on hiring the best and brightest employees for SpaceX. In the beginning, he interviewed and then approved or denied the applicants. Now, he still occasionally interviews them.
He does this because he realizes the future of his company depends on the team around him. He can’t willpower his company to success. Elon needs innovative, brilliant, and devoted employees.
4. Take chances
Musk is unique because he isn’t afraid to lose everything. After building a multi-million dollar financial egg, he risked his entire fortune to start SpaceX and Tesla.
Also, his decision to compete in the space industry is an extreme risk. He bet on himself to get a better space product than national governments. Plus, other entrepreneurs have lost a fortune failing in space.
5. Follow your vision regardless of critics
The automobile industry hates Musk for revolutionizing the market with electric cars. People at NASA dislike Musk for beating them in getting things to space cheaper and more efficiently. And media members have blasted Musk in the press.
But, Elon remained confident in his vision and stayed focus. He dismissed other peoples’ hate by accomplishing what they believed couldn’t be done.
Readers, how do you relate to Elon Musk? What are your thoughts on aligning the idea of better world with your work? Do you think humans will ever live on Mars? Any other thoughts on this post’s subject?