Just finished the Elon Musk biography by Walter Isaacson and feeling super inspired. These are some practical things that I’ve learned or gleaned from it.
1. You don’t want to be Elon Musk
The first practical and pragmatic thought that I have is that no you do not want to be Elon Musk. Better to be yourself.
I am grateful for all of the epic sacrifices that Elon has made, but, at the expense of his health and sanity and personal well-being, I don’t really think it’s worth it.
The simple thought I have is that instead of trying to become someone else, a better strategy is to just take the parts that you like, the parts you desire to emulate.
It does not pay to try to become someone else.
Regarding the book the reason why I find it to be such great material to read is get a sense of all the personal anguish and tragedy of Elon. For example, his first kid getting sudden death infant syndrome, and Elon having to pull the plug while his child was still in his arms, heart beating and all. Also his insanely horrific upbringing with his father, which makes in my mind, all other comparisons seem pedestrian.
2. An insanely audacious vision and goal
An idea that I borrowed from Elon is that perhaps, the only limits we should put forth are the limits of physics. That is, all of these other considerations are unnecessary and superficial. To get beyond silly regulations and “rules”, because the reason why so many things are so expensive is people just trying to game the system.
First principles thinking. That means just ask yourself; is this thing possible or not possible simply from a physics perspective?
3. Cost cutting
Why do people want to be Elon Musk? I think they think they want to spend a billion dollars, rather than being insanely scrappy.
I think the tragedy of modern day life is that we think that in order to be legitimate, we must spend exorbitant amount of money on certain things. However, perhaps the path to the greatest entrepreneurship is actually from the opposite; being able to be insanely scrappy, to bricolage, to experiment, and reduce costs seems to be a better path.
I have a simple suggestion: first always strive to reduce costs by 90%, then simply work your way backwards.
4. A passion for deletion
Delete delete delete, “if you don’t have to add back at least 10% of things, you’re not deleting enough.” Elon
I think great design, innovation and entrepreneurship comes from deletion rather than addition.
For example, deletion goes hand-in-hand with cost reduction and simplification.