Last month I finished reading the 670-page book, Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson. A book worth reading. When I read a book I highlight the key ideas and mark outstanding ideas with a star. Then I rate the book and put down the date I completed the book. (This was October 29 and I rated it an A+)
Elon Musk was born June 28, 1971, in South Africa. In 1989 he got a Canadian passport and moved to Canada on his own when he was 18. Elon became a U.S. citizen in early 2002. He is the founder of Telsa, SpaceX, Starlink, and many other firms His net worth on November 10 was $223.79 Billion the richest man in the world.
He liked hardware and software. Like Steve Jobs, he had a passion for simplicity when it came to designing user interface screens. Elon was one of the founders of PayPal and his colleagues at PayPal said, “In addition to his relentless and rough personal style, was his willingness, even desire, to take risks.”
As his team grew. “Musk infused it with his tolerance for risk and realty-bending willfulness. If you were negative or thought something couldn’t be done, you were not invited to the next meeting, Mueller recalls, He just wanted people who would make things happen. It was a good way to drive people to do what they thought was impossible.”
He made his engineers question all specifications. “At SpaceX Musk was willing to flout rules, it could take the risks it wanted. “Musk has a resistance to regulations. He did not like to play by other people’s rules.”
Step one should be to question the requirements, He says, “Make them less wrong and dumb, because all requirements are somewhat wrong and dumb. And then delete, delete, delete.” In the Proven Process for Driving a Service Culture, Step 2 is to reduce friction, Step 4 is Speed and Step 8 is to reduce costs. Elon Musk uses many of the principles in Proven Process for Driving a Service Culture.
Musk was always trying to reduce costs tenfold. “The latches used by NASA in the Space Station cost $1,500 each. A SpaceX engineer was able to modify a latch used in a bathroom stall and create a locking mechanism that cost $30.”
“Elon liked to focus on work. At times he treated the rest of life as an unpleasant distraction.” He never put much effort into sales and marketing. and instead believed that if you made a great product, the sales would follow.?
Musk calculated that on a good day, he made a hundred command decisions as he walked the floor. “At least twenty percent are going to be wrong, and we’re going to alter them later,” he said. “But if I don’t make decisions, we die.”
His algorithm had 5 commandments:
1. Question every requirement. Each should come with the name of the person who made it.
2. Delete any part or process you can.
3. Simplify and optimize.
4. Accelerate cycle time. Every process and be speeded up.
5. Automate. That comes last.
“Comradery is dangerous. It makes it hard for people to challenge each other’s work.”
“When hiring. look for people with the right attitude. Skills can be taught. Attitude change requires a brain transplant.” When hiring or promoting, Musk made a point of prioritizing attitude over resume skills. And his definition of a good attitude was a desire to work maniacally hard.
At Starlink, in order to reach a profitable scale, they would have to be made at one-tenth the cost and ten times faster.
Unless he maintained a maniacal sense of urgency, he worried SpaceX could end up flabby and slow, like Boeing. In August 2021 he fired the person in charge of its design. His goal was to get the cost of each engine to around $200,0000 a tenth of what it then cost. “We should ask each of them to see if they can get the cost of their part down by eighty percent,” Musk suggests, “and if they can’t we should consider asking them to step aside if someone else might be able to do so.”
Musk bought Twitter (Now called X) in 2022 and ended up firing 75% of the workforce. Musk wanted to filter for excellence, trustworthiness, and drive. “We want people who declare they are hardcore.” There were just under eight thousand employees when Must took over Twitter on October 27, 2022. By mid-December, there were just over two thousand.