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South African born Elon Musk is the renowned entrepreneur and innovator behind PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity. Musk wants to save our planet; he wants to send citizens into space, to form a colony on Mars; he wants to make money while doing these things; and he wants us all to know about it. He is the real-life inspiration for the Iron Man series of films starring Robert Downey Junior.
The personal tale of Musk’s life comes with all the trappings one associates with a great, drama-filled story. He was a freakishly bright kid who was bullied brutally at school, and abused by his father. In the midst of these rough conditions, and the violence of apartheid South Africa, Musk still thrived academically and attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he paid his own way through school by turning his house into a club and throwing massive parties.
He started a pair of huge dot-com successes, including PayPal, which eBay acquired for $1.5 billion in 2002. Musk was forced out as CEO and so began his lost years in which he decided to go it alone and baffled friends by investing his fortune in rockets and electric cars. Meanwhile Musk’s marriage disintegrated as his technological obsessions took over his life ...
Elon Musk is the Steve Jobs of the present and the future, and for the past twelve months, he has been shadowed by tech reporter, Ashlee Vance. Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of Spacex and Tesla is Shaping our Future is an important, exciting and intelligent account of the real-life Iron Man.
First published March 3, 2015
SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.It might have seemed like visiting another planet when Musk split his home country of South Africa as a teen and headed to North America, anything to get away from an abusive upbringing. He seemed to have been blessed not only with exceptional analytical capabilities, and probably an eidetic memory, but an impressively immense set of cojones. He was able to talk his way into whatever he needed and deftly talk his way out of trouble as well. Sometimes that entailed a bit of truth-bending, but whatever.
The interview, he or she is told, could last anywhere from thirty seconds to fifteen minutes. Elon will likely keep on writing e-mails and working during the initial part of the interview and not speak much. Don’t panic. That’s normal. Eventually, he will turn around in his chair to face you. Even then, though, he might not make actual eye contact with you or fully acknowledge your presence. Don’t panic. That’s normal. In due course, he will speak to you.Musk has an amazing capacity for work, putting in monstrous hours as a matter of course. But then he expects the same from those who work for him.
The rank and file employees…revere his drive and respect how demanding he can be. They also think he can be hard to the point of mean and come off as capricious. The employees want to be close to Musk, but they also fear that he’ll suddenly change his mind about something and that every interaction with him is an opportunity to be fired. “Elon’s worst trait by far, in my opinion, is a complete lack of loyalty or human connection,” said one former employee. “Many of us worked tirelessly for him for years and were tossed to the curb like a piece of litter without a second thought. Maybe it was calculated to keep the rest of the workforce on their toes and scared: maybe he was just able to detach from human connection to a remarkable degree. What was clear is that people who worked for him were like ammunition: used for a specific purpose until exhausted and discarded.”Musk even fired his loyal assistant, Mary Beth Brown, who had been with him for twelve years, after she asked for a raise. What a guy.
“Good ideas are always crazy until they’re not.”
"What Musk has developed that so many of the entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley lack is a meaningful worldview. He's the possessed genius on the grandest quest anyone has ever concocted. He's less a CEO chasing riches than a general marshaling troops to secure victory. Where Mark Zuckerberg wants to help you share baby photos, Musk wants to . . . well . . . save the human race from self-imposed or accidental annihilation."
"Elon is the shining example of how Silicon Valley might be able to reinvent itself and be more relevant than chasing these quick IPOs and focusing on getting incremental products out,"
"He would bring standard financial instruments online and then modernize the industry with a host of new concepts. He exhibited a deep insight into human nature that helped his companies pull out exceptional marketing technology and financial feeds. Musk was already playing the entrepreneur game at the highest level and working at the press and the investors like few others could."
“Everything he does is fast,” Brogan said. “He pees fast. It’s like a fire hose—three seconds and out. He’s authentically in a hurry.”
“There needs to be a reason for a grade. I'd rather play video games, write software, and read books than try and get an A if there's no point in getting an A."
“The company would pick a plan of attack, and when it failed at something, it failed fast and then tried a new approach.”
The savvy engineers knew better than to go into a meeting and deliver bad news without some sort of alternative plan at the ready. “One of the scariest meetings was when we needed to ask Elon for an extra two weeks and more money to build out another version of the Model S,” Javidan said. “We put together a plan, stating how long things would take and what they would cost. We told him that if he wanted the car in thirty days it would require hiring some new people, and we presented him with a stack of resumes. You don’t tell Elon you can’t do something. That will get you kicked out of the room. You need everything lined up. (Loc 4277)
People who have spent significant time with Musk will attest to his abilities to absorb incredible quantities of information with near-flawless recall. It’s one of his most impressive and intimidating skills and seems to work just as well in the present day as it did when he was a child vacuuming books into his brain. After a couple of years running SpaceX, Musk had turned into an aerospace expert on a level that few technology CEOs ever approach in their respective fields. (Loc 3421)
“It’s nuts that people would want to vilify Elon. He might say some things that rub people the wrong way, but at some point, the being nice to everyone thing doesn’t work.“
„Good ideas are always crazy - until they’re not.“ Larry Page, Google co-founder.
„Elon is one of the few people that I feel is more accomplished than I am.“ Craig Venture, the man who de-coded the human genome and went on to create synthetic lifeforms.
If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. --- Harry Potter
Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things. --- I Shall Wear Midnight
As I was reading Ashlee Vance’s “Elon Musk: Tesla, Space X and the Quest for a Fantastic Future,” I was alternately awed and disheartened, almost exactly the same ambivalence I felt after reading Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs” and Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.”
The three leaders are arguably the most extraordinary business visionaries of our times. Each of them has introduced unique products that changed – or in Mr. Musk’s case, have huge potential to change – the way we live.
I was awed by the innovative, courageous, persistent and creative ways all three built their businesses. I also love their products. I own a Mac Pro and an iPhone, and I have been a loyal customer of Apple for 20 years. I buy many books and other products on Amazon, lured by a blend of low prices, ease of purchase and reliably quick delivery. The Tesla Model S is hands down the best car I have ever driven, and it’s all electric, rechargeable in your garage.
Plainly, I have bought in to what these guys are selling.
What disheartens me is how little care and appreciation any of them give (or in Mr. Jobs’s case, gave) to hard-working and loyal employees, and how unnecessarily cruel and demeaning they could be to the people who helped make their dreams come true.