From time to time, I have the luxury to take some vacation. This summer (2015), I spent some time on the mediterranean coast in Turkiye and took with me the Elon Musk biography from Ashlee Vance as a beach book. Well, what a life !!
(Re)Discovering what Elon Musk has done is quite disturbing, in a sense that the phrase « nothing is impossible » took another meaning while reading the book. The guy is so motivated by changing the world that you can not remain insensitive to his moves. Life is definitely too short, but it could appear that some people are trying to make the best out of it. And this is absolutely required.
Not only he has a greater vision on changing rigid industries (such as automotive or aerospace) for people’s benefit, but he is also a tremendous risk taker, investing all his money into his companies and the products he’s building. You can’t do that if you don’t BELIEVE in whatever you are investing your time to. It once again confirms what I experienced from myself, that « money is not an asset, it’s a flow ». It has to be invested in a way that it could help you support your projects and then generate great value for humankind.
However, there is also a side of the persona that I truly dislike. I have a very high respect for every human being, whoever he or she is. And I felt, from time to time, very shocked on how Elon Musk behave with people, pushing them under extreme stress and consuming their time for a bigger cause. Life is beautiful, and even if you are building amazing products, I highly believe that you have to let people enjoy their life, enjoy what matters for them. It’s their lifes, not yours, let them be. For instance, at page 177, it appears that one employee has missed an event or meeting to witness the birth of his child. What a beautiful event not to miss. However, Elon Musk was very disappointed and said «That is no excuse. you need to figure out where your priorities are. We’re changing the world and changing history, and you either commit or you don’t ».
It’s perfectly fine if you invest all your time to something, but this has to be a free choice of yours, not a choice under pressure.
I am very careful about this aspect and relationship with people; and I believe that success or commitment doesn’t required you to behave like Elon Musk or Steeve Jobs towards employees.
No one is perfect of course, and anyone is free to like or dislike some aspects of your peers. But you have to see these judgments as a learning and keep the best of it for yourself. One of the other quality that I appreciate from Elon Musk is his ability to take decisions very quickly. I feel sometime very annoyed to take a decision, especially for useless stuff like buying clothes on store or choosing the menu at restaurant. Well, this is in a way very ridiculous because you are consuming time in predicting what could be the best for yourself without being sure. And to be honest, you could never have the answer of that prediction in advance. The only meaningfull step is to take decision quickly then pivote if your experience is not as expected.
The book is full of learning that you could apply to yourself, through the protagonist’s life (if you are willing to extract whatever matters to you).
So I definitely recommend you to read the biography. You will feel inspired in a high level, and this is all the more helpful if you are an entrepreneur willing to make a better world with amazing products.