I was a fan of Elon Musk and his vision in late 2000s and early 2010s. As he became more active on social media, I found him annoying.
I wanted to pick a new book to read and started looking into any interesting books out there. I enjoy reading biographies. So, I chose to go with Elon’s biography, which seemed like an interesting one to pick up next, especially since Walter Isaacson authored it. Oh boy, the book did not disappoint. I highly recommend the book.
The way Walter navigates Elon’s life is fascinating. Going over the various incidents covered in the book was exciting to say the least. My favorite part was how Elon achieved manufacturing 5000 cars/week throughput from the Fremont and Nevada factories during the Model 3 production in 2018. They could totally make a Hollywood movie around the whole Tesla saga. While I was going over this section, it felt like Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay in my head. The quick cuts with a high tempo storytelling as fixing one thing leads to breaking another. It was thrilling.
Some of the highlights I really enjoyed from the book –
- Obviously, Walter’s navigation of Elon’s life.
- The way Elon solves problems and his Algorithm (I’ll list it towards the end of the post) and his willingness to jump in to solve problems.
- How people around Elon perceive his actions and how he switches from being a fun guy to an asshole.
- How Elon executes his vision, particularly around SpaceX and how SpaceX achieved rocket reusability at a low cost.
- How Elon inspired his teams at Tesla, Starlink, SpaceX, The Boring Company and Twitter.
- Elon’s business genius. His focus and sheer will to see his ideas succeed.
Elon has a famous algorithm that came out of the struggle around manufacturing around 2018. Here it is –
- Question Every Requirement: Doing anything without knowing why there’s a requirement is just counter productive. Tying a name to the requirement makes it easy to question it and get clarification.
- Delete Any Part or Process You Can: If you delete too much, it’s fine, you can add them back later. In fact, if you don’t add at least 10% of them back later, it means you haven’t deleted enough.
- Simplify and Optimize: Simplifying and Optimizing is not meant for parts or processes that don’t need to exist in the first place. It’s meant to simplify and optimize the absolutely necessary ones.
- Accelerate Cycle Time: Only after you perform 1, 2, and 3, execute this step.
- Automate: This is the very last step where you automate your process that’s efficient.
Personally, the Algorithm hit home with me, ’cause I operate the same way, especially 1, 2, and 3. I highly recommend the book.
My rating of the book: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
Walter Isaacson closes the book by saying the following –
Would a restrained Musk accomplish as much as Musk unbound? Is being unfiltered and untethered integral to who he is? Could you get the rockets to orbit or the transition to electric vehicles without accepting all aspects of him, hinged and unhinged? Sometimes great innovators are risk seeking man-children who resist potty training. They can be reckless, cringe-worthy, sometimes, even toxic. They can also be crazy. Crazy enough to think they can change the world.Walter Isaacson, from Elon Musk