[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]
An interesting read for me, considering I never went in depth into what Musk has accomplished (to be fair, I came to this book because I find Tesla cars sexy and thought ‘well, why not read this, at least I’ll know more about the man’).
I’m kind of sitting on the fence about this book. I liked learning about how Musk’s companies came to be, the problems encountered along the way, how things were at times one inch from just failing, but worked out in the end, out of both luck and determination. In a way, it’s a positive ‘lesson’: that sometimes things fail, but it shouldn’t prevent you from fighting for them and taking risks, because they just may succeed as well.
I also appreciated that the author interviewed other people, employees, ex-employees, friends, ex-partners, etc., and that he made them part of the whole: people without whom Tesla Motors or SpaceX wOuld’ve never been able to take off, engineers and mechanics and designers whose role was absolutely not negligible. Since a large part of the book was focused on these companies, acknowledging more than just one actor was a good thing to do.
I would’ve d liked it to go more in depth about how exactly things worked out, when it comes to the science/engineering part. Elon Musk seems like he knows his stuff, too, and has learnt over the years what he didn’t know and made him shoot for impossible deadlines at first (now I guess they’re just improbable, hah), and… I don’t know, I expected something more detailed in that regard. Maybe less of the business aspect, and more about the engineering the way Elon Musk himself goes about it?
Also, for a biography, I think it didn’t go to the bottom of things either when it comes to the man, and lacks a certain detachment. Musk doesn’t come off as a very empathetic person, to say the least, and while objectively I understand his drive, humanely the way he treats his employees is, well, not great at all. So I would’ve been interested in seeing more reflecting about this: coming from him, but also coming from the biographer. There -is- something wrong in the way all these visionary projects have come to be, and it was pretty much glossed over. (In short, was the harshness really needed, does innovation has to come to such a price, and would things have tanked with just a bit more empathy?)
This was instructive, and I kind of liked it, so 3 stars… But while I know more about Tesla Motors, SolarCity and SpaceX, I don’t feel like I know -that- much more about Musk himself now.
Elon Musk, a man who has crazy work ethics and always striving for his goals no matter what the risks are or what consequences it will have on him or his family . He has gained a title of the Paypal Mafia and is also one of Silicon Valleys most respected entrepreneurs .
Personally reading this book has increased my respect towards all entrepreneurs famous or yet to be . This book really details out greatly on how Elon Musk started his journey towards success from Zip2 to X.com and soon Space X and Tesla , impacting me almost immediately as I slowly started to think out of the box just like how Elon did when having such startups . With his crazy work ethics he have made me strongly have faith that whatever sufferings I have now will ultimately lead to a long time success just as how he categorized each investment he makes , long term or short term . Besides I am also flabbergasted by all his ideas that he have come up with , some of them people just could not even knew that they would have needed it until he invented it just like how he did with the electric car . Taking huge risks were also always in his agendas as he was almost bankrupt once and his only option was success as if he failed this he would have nothing left for himself . Besides one of his most honorable traits were that he was extremely great at coping with massive amounts of stress and pressure as he had crazy work ethics and this blows me away .All in all ,nothing could literally stand in his ways to block him form achieving his goals and that was what inspired and blows me away.He was just a man with a plan no matter what the circumstances were.
Reading these book which has accounts from previous employees from space X and Tesla I could also tell that although most people see the bright side of Musk , there was this dark side of him that not many could have known as it was usually not published that frequently . He was a man that was also known to have worked all his workers to the bone , such as making them work almost the 22 hours a day or even till the extent of not being able to go back home to meet their families . This was especially saddening though workers who usually just express themselves because of such things were thrown out of the company like garbage although they have done so much for the company . Sometimes to if an employee have an idea that was going against Elon's initial idea they too might get fired just in a matter of seconds.
In conclusion I really enjoyed reading these book as it has great insights on one of the leading technological company that may soon takeover the world . It has also opened my eyes to see some bad politics and disputes in such big company that has changed my perspective of such companies . Other than that I would also like to recommend this book to any aspiring young entrepreneurs out there so you will have a greater understanding of what it is like to run such businesses so you will not buckle under immense pressure as Elon is also well known for making fast and effective decisions although he was under great pressure .
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do"
Space Oddity by David Bowie
So I don't know much about this guy as a person (I tend to assume that all super-rich CEO types are at least 40% evil but I've been proven wrong before), but his love for science fiction books (which is mentioned throughout the article I've quoted below) gives him at least a little credit in my eyes.
(talking about his "existential crisis" as a young teen)
"I read a lot of books, and it didn't sound like anything really had the answer to what's the meaning of life," Musk says. "And then it's like, 'Is it all meaningless?' I was reading Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, and it was terrible. No one should read them. It's too depressing. They were not happy people."
The answer eventually came (as it does for many disaffected teenage boys, even those not reading Nietzsche) through the cult 1979 novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, a writer known, perhaps not coincidentally, for his interest in both environmental conservation and fast cars.
"I thought Adams was actually quite good because he was making the point that the question is the real difficulty," says Musk. "The universe is essentially the answer, so what's the question? As we strive for enlightenment, we better understand what questions to ask about the nature of the universe. It seems like there's a fundamental good in that. So that seemed like a good way to apply my efforts-- to strive for greater enlightenment."
[Vogue October 2015, Meghan Daum]