Why this book?
Elon Musk is perceived as one of the most influential enterprisers of the 21st century. Born in 1971 Pretoria, South Africa, he finds himself on the verge of revolutionising the world, and having a book talking about this man in the way that Ashlee Vance does is simply necessary and outstanding at the same time.
He founded a number of successful companies starting with Pay Pal, an enterprise of great impact which contributed to the redefinition of the online payment regulations;
Next is the well-known Tesla, Inc. which initially specialised in electric vehicles, but now also handles energy storage and solar panel manufacturing alongside with SolarCity (one of Tesla, Inc. subsidiaries);
Ending up we find the increasingly authoritative SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company, which is now in direct competition with NASA.
Needless to say more.
Elon Musk knew that he could change the world
Yes, we all are aware or ought to be aware that being positive and being a rational optimist could only be in our best interest, but there is something more to be added. Having a vision, simply envisioning the fact that you can attain greatness in your life could be the key, the long craved for secret. Elon knew exactly what he could create, he had the ‘dream’. Having a clear idea of being someone that could do something in and for this world, ‘for the future’ as Elon says, is the characteristic that followed his entire life and career.
For instance, there was the distinctive moment when the automotive industry was simply shocked as the writer describes. When the new Tesla Model S was released, Elon’s ambition burst into the spotlight once again: he wanted to manufacture a fully electric vehicle without any compromise and that’s exactly what he did.
‘I had a rough childhood and I believe that helps’
One of the most intriguing aspects of Elon’s day to day life is his ‘Superman schedule’, if I may say so: a typical week would start at his Los Angeles villa in Bel Air. On Mondays, he would be working at SpaceX. Tuesdays, he would start at SpaceX and then get on his private jet and fly to Palo Alto, Silicon Valley where he would stay for 2 days working at Tesla. At a certain point he did not even own a property in California, reason for which he would ask friends to sleep on their couch or on a spare bed.
Deriving from this precise above-mentioned happenstance, I find ambition captured at this intensity one of the traits that all people should strive to attain.
Thursdays, he would be back in LA working at SpaceX. Notable is also the fact that Elon has 5 boys and shares their custody with his ex-wife. Nevertheless, he always tries to organise his time in a manner that would allow him to spend 4 days per week with them.
Someone told Musk that he could be TIME Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’
For this incredibly ambitious man, there seems to be no palpable difference between himself and his companies, Space X for instance (Space Exploration Technologies Corp., a company founded by Elon at a time of disappointment, after his plans of buying Russian Rockets could not be materialised, due to the lack of cooperation of the Russian business partners). When he realised he could not buy the so called ICBM Rockets (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile), he simply said that SpaceX will be the one manufacturing the rockets instead and again that’s exactly what they are doing.
There is no boundary to be defined between Elon and his work, he springs from his work and vice versa.
‘Musk’s vision and his recent achievements seem to combine the greatest aspects of Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller’
One of the most compelling passages in the book is Elon’s letter (dated 7th of June 2013) to his SpaceX employees, which is to be found at the end of the book. He talks about why SpaceX IPO should be postponed until they are certain that Mars is secured, so to speak, as that has always been his primary objective. Elon started SpaceX having this sole purpose in mind, transporting humans to Mars.
Witnessing his advances it becomes easily deductible that his dream is not far from becoming reality.
THOUGHTS AFTER READING ASHLEE VANCE’S BOOK:
Funny as it sounds, Elon Musk made me think of this analogy. Think of a bird, yes it’s as simple as that, just think of one bird, imagine its flight, the wings naturally moving upwards and downwards in the typical fashion. Now, how did it get there? How did it learn to fly? Well, visualise this, what do you think happens when the bird has to leave its nest for the first time? Do you really believe that when the bird left the nest it thought it would fall? Doubtlessly no, it knew it had to fly. It didn’t envision anything else, but only what it had to accomplish. That’s what having a clear objective means. Confidently knowing what you have to do and doing it, while simply mentally erasing all the so called negative factors that could prevent you from achieving what you have planned.
Note to self: Elon Musk has already made a difference in this world and he is far from done…