I just finished the Elon Musk biography by Walter Isaacson, loved it. 12 stars out of 10. I even enjoyed it more than the Steve Jobs biography, up to date my favorite! Thought: perhaps Walter Isaacson should also do a biography on Kanye West.
Anyways, I highly recommend anyone and everyone to read it, if you’re interested in Elon, SpaceX, Tesla innovation entrepreneurship creativity design etc. In fact, I find the parts on design and design thinking and simplification and deletion and merging the most interesting.
For reference, I just bought it in the Apple iBook store, which was very convenient as I could read it on my iPhone and iPad. Started reading it on the flight to Philly from LAX, direct flight from Spirit airlines (I actually really like Spirit airlines! Very fast, and I actually prefer the no-frills Spartan approach; I prefer how much more direct it is than Southwest). Read a little bit of it when I was in Philly, and finished it on the flight back home.
1. Delete, delete, delete
The first thing I really loved was this notion of delete delete delete. I think this is where Elon Musk mirrors Steve Jobs, even myself this passion towards simplification.
2. Passion for design
Another big thing I learned which I intuitively thought and believed, but found out for real is how committed and passionate Elon Musk is about design. For example, for the Tesla roadster the original one, as well as the subsequent Tesla model S and the cyber truck etc., he had such a large say. For example, in the first Tesla Roadster, he had a very very strong opinion about the front headlight, the side doors etc. This caused 1 million headaches, and millions of dollars in delay, but that is what made it beautiful and successful.
What I think is also critical to understand is how passionate Elon Musk is about cars. For example after he sold X and zip two, the $1Million dollar McLaren he bought.
Another huge thing with the original Tesla model S; he worked insanely hard to make sure it didn’t look like an ugly bubble car. He pushed the designers and engineers hard to make the car lower, to lower the battery pack, to make it flatter, even to integrate the battery park as part of the frame.
Also, the flush door handles. And the friendly lights it emitted.
Not only that but the cyber truck, him and his head designer, truly trying to make something that would shock and awe people.
3. Cost reduction
Something that these salty haters do not understand about Elon Musk, being a “billionaire“, etc. is this:
They think the point is to become a billionaire to spend $1 billion, not to cut cost reduce and leverage money more intelligently.
For example, there is almost at least a dozen instances in which one of his enterprises almost failed or went bankrupt, and the way to save it was extreme reduction. Reducing the cost of something by 90%, or laying off 90% of the staff like he did at Twitter.
4. True skin in the game
I propose the sleeping bag rule: if the founder, head honcho, or the CEO is not willing to sleep in the headquarters under their desk, during extreme and critical times, they don’t have real skin in the game.