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Elon Musk: Tesla, Space X, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Elon Musk: Tesla, Space X, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
By Founders Podcast • Issue #1 • View online

The Autotelic Podcast
In this week’s podcast I discuss the biography of Elon Musk. I talk about how to spend $180 million, mice in space, pain, suffering and survival. 
Listen here: iTunes, Web, Soundcloud (1:18:44)
10 highlights from the book
1. One thing that Musk holds in the highest regard is resolve, and he respects people who continue on after being told no. (page 3) 
2. 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.(page 17)
3. When Elon gets into something, he develops just this different level of interest in it than other people. That is what differentiates Elon from the rest of humanity. (page 51) 
4. The conventional wisdom of the time said to take a deep breath and wait for the next big thing to arrive in due course. Musk rejected that logic by throwing $ 100 million into SpaceX, $ 70 million into Tesla, and $ 10 million into SolarCity. Short of building an actual money-crushing machine, Musk could not have picked a faster way to destroy his fortune. He became a one-man, ultra-risk-taking venture capital shop and doubled down on making super-complex physical goods in two of the most expensive places in the world, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. (page 14)
5. As his ex-wife, Justine, put it, “He does what he wants, and he is relentless about it. It’s Elon’s world, and the rest of us live in it.” (page 22)
6. Musk actually said as much to one venture capitalist, informing him, “My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku than fail.” (page 65)
7. To the extent that the world still doubts Elon, I think it’s a reflection on the insanity of the world and not on the supposed insanity of Elon. (page 321)
8. Musk guides his engineers into taking ownership of their own delivery dates. “He doesn’t say, ‘You have to do this by Friday at two P.M.,’” Brogan said. “He says, ‘I need the impossible done by Friday at two P.M. Can you do it?’ Then, when you say yes, you are not working hard because he told you to. You’re working hard for yourself. It’s a distinction you can feel. You have signed up to do your own work.” And by recruiting hundreds of bright, self-motivated people, SpaceX has maximized the power of the individual. One person putting in a sixteen-hour day ends up being much more effective than two people working eight-hour days together. The individual doesn’t have to hold meetings, reach a consensus, or bring other people up to speed on a project. He just keeps working and working and working. The ideal SpaceX employee is someone like Steve Davis, the director of advanced projects at SpaceX. “He’s been working sixteen hours a day every day for years,” Brogan said. “He gets more done than eleven people working together.” (page 233)
9. Good ideas are always crazy until they’re not. (page 354)
10. Elon came to the conclusion early in his career that life is short. If you really embrace this, it leaves you with the obvious conclusion that you should be working as hard as you can. (page 356)
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