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The Cook & The Chef: Elon Musk's Secret Sauce

The Cook & The Chef: Elon Musk's Secret Sauce
By Founders Podcast • Issue #18 • View online

This week’s book is a book length blog post: The Cook and The Chef: Elon Musk’s Secret Sauce. The entire series is available in kindle format: The Elon Musk Blog Series: Wait But Why
10 quotes from the post that made me think
1. After emerging from the 1990s dotcom party with $ 180 million, instead of sitting back in his investor chair listening to pitches from groveling young entrepreneurs, he decided to start a brawl with a group of 900-pound sumo wrestlers— the auto industry, the oil industry, the aerospace industry, the military-industrial complex, the energy utilities— and he might actually be winning.
2. Musk calls this “reasoning from first principles.” I’ll let him explain: I think generally people’s thinking process is too bound by convention or analogy to prior experiences. It’s rare that people try to think of something on a first principles basis. They’ll say, “We’ll do that because it’s always been done that way.” Or they’ll not do it because “Well, nobody’s ever done that, so it must not be good.” But that’s just a ridiculous way to think. You have to build up the reasoning from the ground up—“ from the first principles” is the phrase that’s used in physics. You look at the fundamentals and construct your reasoning from that, and then you see if you have a conclusion that works or doesn’t work, and it may or may not be different from what people have done in the past.
3. But his software told him that formal education was just another way to download information into your brain and “a painfully slow download” at that— so he started reading, meeting people, and asking questions.
4. Your entire life runs on the software in your head— why wouldn’t you obsess over optimizing it?
5. The words “cook” and “chef” seem kind of like synonyms. And in the real world, they’re often used interchangeably. But in this post, when I say chef, I don’t mean any ordinary chef. I mean the   trailblazing chef— the kind of chef who invents recipes. And for our purposes, everyone else who enters a kitchen— all those who follow recipes— is a cook.
6. Being a chef isn’t being like Elon Musk— it’s being yourself.
7. People believe thinking outside the box takes intelligence and creativity, but it’s mostly about independence. When you simply ignore the box and build your reasoning from scratch, whether you’re brilliant or not, you end up with a unique conclusion— one that may or may not fall within the box.
8. Not respecting society is totally counterintuitive to what we’re taught when we grow up— but it makes perfect sense if you just look at what your eyes and experience tell you.
9. There are clues all around showing us that conventional wisdom doesn’t know shit. Conventional wisdom worships the status quo and always assumes that everything is the way it is for a good reason— and history is one long record of status quo dogma being proven wrong again and again, every time some chef comes around and changes things.
10. That’s why when I asked Musk what his thoughts were on negative feedback, he answered with  this: “I’m a huge believer in taking feedback. I’m trying to create a mental model that’s accurate, and if I have a wrong view on something, or if there’s a nuanced improvement that can be made, I’ll say, “I used to think this one thing that turned out to be wrong— now thank goodness I don’t have that wrong belief.”
Thank you for reading. 
I will talk to you next week,
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