With a soaring net worth of around 153.5 billon USD, Elon Musk is among the most influential people around the world. But it’s not the money or the fame that comes with it that makes Musk a force to be reckoned with, it’s the way he thinks. In this post, we delve deep into Musk endeavors in the hope to gain a clear understanding of the thought process behind Tesla, SpaceX, and many of Elon Musk’s projects that are disrupting the current business models of several industries.
The Musk mindset
Understand the trunk and the big branches before you get into the leaves.
Successful people don’t think like others. That’s what separates them from the herd. They think on a deeper level, which allows them to see things in a way that an ordinary mind cannot.
To get a good understanding of it, just read the following excerpt from Musk’s interview. This was his response when asked about the most important thing for humanity in the future:
I think working on AI and making sure it’s a great future, that’s the most important thing I think right now the most pressing item. Anything to do with genetics. If you can solve genetic diseases if you can prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s or something like that with genetic reprogramming that would be wonderful. So I think this genetics might be the sort of second most important item.“
In the same interview, he talked about the thought process behind any endeavor:
“Well, first of all, I think if somebody is doing something useful to the rest of society, I
I think that’s a good thing. It doesn’t have to change the world. If you’re doing something that has high value to people and frankly even if it’s something…if it’s just a little game or, you know, the system improvement in photo sharing or something, if it has a small amount of good for a large number of people, I mean I think that’s fine. Stuff doesn’t need to change the world just to be good.”
Elon’s mindset has three important components:
- How to fix things
- How to find solutions
- Accelerated learning
How to fix things and find solutions
Musk’s approach towards any of his endeavors becomes very clear with these statements: he wants to work on things that will benefit humanity.
In business and life, not many people think about the long term impact of their actions. Entrepreneurs and brilliant minds can look beyond the money and the fame. For instance,
Another thing that we believe makes Elon’s mindset so different from the others is his approach towards his daily goals. Elon utilizes Aristotle’s first principle thinking. First principle thinking or reasoning from first principles is a time-tested technique to break down complicated problems to find viable solutions.
SpaceX was born when Elon had the grave challenge of finding the rockets he could send in space. But after learning that a rocket could cost up to 65 million dollars, Elon began to look at things differently. He broke down the parts of a rocket and looked at their costs. And instead of buying rockets, he started assembling them to create a cheaper option. Reducing the cost of rockets allowed him to use those finances for company goals that collectively made the company’s missions possible.
From a very early age, Elon has used accelerated learning to fuel his endeavors. Accelerated learning allows him to learn much more in a short timespan. How does he do it? By managing his time.
We looked into Elon’s daily schedule and learned that he uses time most efficiently. His tasks are scheduled together so he doesn’t miss anything. This process of grouping together tasks is known as batching that allows you to group similar tasks so you can save more time. For instance, Elon ensures that he spends time with his kids on the weekends, but he doesn’t completely detach from work. He answers his work emails while with his kids. Similarly, he responds to important messages while he eats.
Read more about Elon Musk’s schedule.
Let’s take a look at Musk endeavors, the many companies of Elon Musk.
The Musk Endeavors
Elon Musk works on a cosmic scale. Thereès a reason why he is one of a kind. Elon has his hands in more than a single industry. We look at all of Elon Muskès ventures below.
Zip 2 (‘90s) Industry: Internet company
Zip 2 was Elon’s first company, started with his brother Kimball and Greg Kouri. The company got its funding from a group of angel investors. It was acquired by Compaq for $307 million.
X.com (1999) Industry: online financial services
After a few years of selling Zip.com, Musk went on to create X.com. This venture was mainly funded by the $22 million Musk received from his previous sale. X.com later merged with Infinity (PayPal) which was famously acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion. Musk received $165 million for his shares in the company. At the time, Musk was the company’s largest shareholder.
Space X and Starlink (2002)
Musk’s initial interest in space exploration included Mars Oasis, a concept to grow food on Mars. The idea was to reignite the public’s interest in space exploration. Musk has always been interested in exploring other planets and making them inhabitable for humans (remember his mindset and thinking).
Initially, Musk wanted to work with other aerospace companies to bring the idea to fruition, but the costs of a single rocket (up to 8 million dollars) made it extremely hard to fetch.
Elon eventually decided to assemble the rockets by himself and that gave birth to SpaceX as we know it. The company has become renowned for building affordable spacecraft for commercial space travel. By 2008, SpaceX had built enough reputation to land itself a contract with NASA to handle cargo transportation for the ISS (International Space Station). On November 16, 2020, SpaceX launched a crew of four into orbit in the SpaceX Crew Dragon.
Recently, SpaceX has signed deals worth $3 billion to create, test, and implement an astronaut taxi service for NASA.
Apart from its mission to make space travel affordable and putting humans on Mars, SpaceX launched Starlink in 2015, low earth orbiting constellation of satellites that would provide fast internet to remote areas including the Atlantic Ocean.
Tesla (2004), Industry: Automotive
With Tesla, Musk had a rocky start. But once he started, there was no stopping. Musk’s mission with Tesla was to build sports cars, use the money from selling those sports cars to build affordable cars, and use that money to build even more affordable cars all while providing zero-emissions power generation.
Tesla Roadster was Tesla’s first sports car that sold over 2,000 units in over 31 countries. It was the first electric car of its scale that used Lithium-ion battery cells. Four-door model S and model X followed.
Musk’s aim to build an even more affordable electric car came to fruition with Model 3 with the base price of $35,000. As of March 2020, it is the world’s best-selling electric car with over 500,000 units sold.
In 2014, Musk made Tesla patents public, encouraging manufacturers to use Tesla’s technology to speed up the transition to electric vehicles around the world.
As of 2016, Tesla is working on developing an autopilot (advanced driver assistance system) to develop autonomous vehicles. The advanced driver-assistance system offers lane centering, self-parking, traffic-aware cruise control, semi-autonomous navigation, automatic lane changes, and automatic car summoning from a garage or parking spot.
Solar City (2006) – Industry: Energy
Musk offered the initial funding and the concept for SolarCity. The idea was brought to fruition by two of Musk’s cousins (Peter and Lyndon Rive). The company became the second-largest solar power systems provider in the United States in 2013. SolarCity later merged with Tesla with an acquisition price of $2 billion and became Tesla’s solar division.
Open AI (2015) – Industry: Technology
If there’s anyone who understands the scope of AI and its potential dangers, it’s Musk. It’s not that AI itself is dangerous, it’s how it can fall into the hands of wrong people who may use it to oppress the public or derive significant profits and power that will harm the integrity of our society.
Open AI was designed as a non-profit AI research company. With Open AI, Musk’s goal was to develop artificial intelligence that is beneficial for humanity. Musk wants AI to be available for everybody rather than a handful of large corporations.
Neuralink (2017) – Industry: Technology
Open AI and Neuralink are related in a lot of ways. While OpenAI wants to ensure that the power of AI doesn’t end up with a handful of corporations, Neuralink aims to merge humans with AI creating a harmonious symbiosis that would allow humans to keep pace with advancements in technology.
Neuralink offers a small device that can be implanted into the skull where it reads the neuron messages, enabling control that allows interfacing with computers. Musk intends to cure deafness, blindness, and several diseases with Neuralink in the future. These claims have been ridiculed and criticized by industry professionals.
The boring company (2016) – Industry: Transportation
Elon Musk is fixated on finding solutions to the problems. He thought of building tunnels under the city while stuck in traffic. With the Boring Company, Elon Musk wants to build tunnels that would reduce the traffic burdens on the roads.
Other Musk endeavors
Musk has been involved with the design and development of a high-speed transportation system that, according to Musk, could reduce the cost of transportation. Musk was also a part of DeepMind Technologies, an artificial intelligence company before it was acquired by Google.
The Musk Portfolio
Elon Musk has strategically invested and reaped profit in the past. From selling his first company to owning shares in current companies, Elon has a strong portfolio. He holds 22% shares in Tesla and 54% shares in SpaceX, two of his biggest ventures.
Musk is more than enthusiastic about putting people on Mars. He is making sure that we become an interplanetary species and survive.
He wants to equip us with AI so we can become stronger as we head to the future. And he is trying to make this world a better place by promoting zero-emission transportation. We are in good hands. Even if Musk isn’t successful with everything he hopes to achieve, he will surely influence others so progress never halts.