It’s no secret that I am a huge Elon Musk fanboy—what engineering student isn’t? But it didn’t always start out that way. In fact, I have only know about this guy for a year or two. I’ve always described my future career as wanting to be Tony Stark. One day, my roommate said to check out a video titled “Elon Musk: How I Became The Real ‘Iron Man’“, a 45-minute interview with Bloomberg.
I immediately fell in love. I was so intrigued by an engineering mind literally trying to change how humans interact with the planet. I also grabbed ahold of him as a real-life role model for just about exactly what I wanted to do, proving to myself (and hopefully others) that my chosen career path was plausible.
I followed him and everything he was up to across social media and by googling articles about him. It soon became an obsession akin to my love of Katy Perry. Only this time, it was a geek obsessing over another geek.
In May 2015, tech writer Ashlee Vance (@ValleyHack) published the first biography on Elon Musk with his direct input. I knew I had to have it. That wouldn’t come to fruition, however, until February 2016, when Shalene bought me the book for my birthday. It’s titled Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future.
The author goes into extensive detail, outlining the addresses of the company as they jumped from building to building, growing even larger. The only complaints I have about his writing style are 1) he uses a lot of the same descriptions on the same spread (e.g. “watermelon-sized motor” or “Musk Co.”) and 2) that he can be pretty casual sometimes, using words like “stuff” or “guy”. But a majority of the time, I appreciated that casualness as the novel dove deeper into technological jargon.
The book is seriously inspiring, though. Like watching the Olympics, you think to yourself, Man, these guys are how old and doing these things, and the biggest challenge I’ve overcome today was getting out of bed before noon? It really made me question what I want to do with my life. There are so many companies out there taking advantage of a boom in a certain market. But do you really want that to be your life’s work? Not me. I want to go down as a visionary and futurist, actively trying to make the world a better place by looking at it from a different angle.
My biggest takeaway, however, is that Elon and I have very different leadership styles. He is to be admired for setting overly ambitious goals for his companies, which his employees then rise to, but at what cost? I am not willing to sacrifice my marriage for the sake of my career, no matter how noble the cause.