Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future – Ashlee Vance
Summary: Based on interviews with Musk and those close to him, Ashlee Vance outlines the life and motivations of Elon Musk. He outlines Musk's childhood, his education and early business ventures, the story of x.com and PayPal, and the challenges and subsequent successes of Tesla and SpaceX. Through a combination of circumstances and a great deal of hard work, Musk has succeed in his ventures where many thought he would fail.
Thoughts: An interesting and enjoyable book, but I didn't learn that much from it. It instilled in me (albeit briefly) a desire to work very hard.
(The notes below are not a summary of the book, but rather raw notes - whatever I thought, at the time, might be worth remembering.)
Vance, Ashlee. 2015. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. HarperCollins.
- 24: Douglas Adams points out in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that the tricky thing is not finding the answers to questions, but figuring out what questions to ask. Musk concluded early in his life that humanity should seek to augment/expand its consciousness, in order to be able to formulate better questions.
- 47: Elon Musk and his brother Kimbal would identify people they’d like to meet by reading newspapers, then cold-call them. J: I could get better at doing this kind of thing.
- 55: Musk found it important that he was not chasing the recent hot trend, but had been thinking about and working on electric cars, space exploration, etc. for a long time.
- J: should this give me pause about starting a blog, trying to grow my youtube channel, etc.? I need to think carefully about what big goals I have, and work towards them from whatever directions possible.
- 108: if Musk wanted to learn about a thing (like rocket physics), he would simply buy and read textbooks for the relevant field.
- J: this is a thing I can do.
- 233: “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.”
- J: I can apply this to my own work, engaging in periods of deep work
- 351: “Smart phones were revolutionary because of the ways they allowed hardware, software, and services to work in unison.” This is part of the reason the products produced by Tesla, SpaceX are so efficient/effective
- 352: Faddell: “You put these things together, and they morph into something we have never seen before. All of a sudden there is a wholesale change. It’s a step function.”
- 355: Larry Page holds Elon Musk up as a model for how engineers can change the world for better (in contrast to many politicians/businesspeople, who have very short-term goals, rather than big and important ones). He advocates for a wider background for new engineers, with a broad science base and some business courses, to help people come up with innovations and be able to see them through to fruition
- 357-358: Musk notes that wealth, education and secularity are inversely correlated with the number of children people have, and goes on to suggest that smart people should have more kids
Posted: Dec 10, 2020. Last updated: Dec 19, 2020.