Elon Musk – by Ashlee Vance

Elon Musk - by Ashlee Vance
Elon Musk – by Ashlee Vance

ISBN: 0062301233 READ: January 2016

Elon Musk is a boss. The book examines the life of a hard ass that gets shit done at any cost. Truly inspiring stories of the inception of some of the most revolutionary companies of our time, Tesla and SpaceX. If you are ever feeling like an overachiever and want to be brought down a couple notches, read this book.


I actually didn’t take my own notes on this book, as it is a biography. It was a very inspiring book and I would recommend it to anyone. Below are some notes by Max Mednik

Chapter 1 – Elon’s World
Meaningful world view
Saving the human race

Chapter 2 – Africa
Wrote his own computer game
Photographic visual processing in brain
Read 10 hours per day as a child
Went through all books in library and 2 encyclopedias

Chapter 3 – Canada
Doesn’t take no for answer
Wanted to work on biggest impact areas: renewable energy, Internet, space

Chapter 4 – Elon’s First Startup
Hardware background
Working 24/7
Living at office
Zip2 bringing businesses online
Quake tournaments
Do or die but don’t give up

Chapter 5 – PayPal Mafia Boss
Banking internship
Reinvested almost all money into X online bank
Coups and issues with leadership and being kicked out

Chapter 6 – SpaceX
Moved to LA for aerospace and to escape valley
Sending mice to Mars
Mars Society
Tried to buy rockets from Russians but was too expensive
Read rocket textbooks and Made spreadsheet that showed could do it a lot cheaper
Making as much as practical at spacex
Engineers sitting next to factory workers and welders
Son died; didn’t believe in open grieving and wallowing in sadness
When things go wrong must have all the info and a plan
Work computers to play quake
Lots of failed launches

Chapter 7 – All Electric
Straubel believed in Power of lithium ion batteries for solar car at Stanford
Used Silicon Valley tactics instead of Detroit bureaucracy
Sent engineers into field to be able to iterate faster
Fired ppl due to typos
Required extremely hard work
Lots of delivery delays and issues with contractors

Chapter 8 – Pain Suffering and Survival
Team of nannies
7 days of work per week
Worsening financial situation
Day away from bankruptcy for both companies

Chapter 9 – Liftoff
Huge successes and contracts
Need to understand how mechanical things work
In house manufacturing
Factory inside office with engineers

Chapter 10 – Revenge of Electric Car
Model S success
Prototyped batteries for other car companies and beat their deadline expectations
Faster more iterative testing
Always come to meetings with alternative plan if have difficulties
If something could not be done: only response is to take it down to the physics
Wrote his own public relations responses
Controlling whole product allows creation of lifestyle brand
Not a new idea. All about execution.

Chapter 11 – Unified Field Theory
Solar energy market
Callous interoffice
Lack of empathy
Cruel stoicism
Obsessing over typos in emails
Intuition on things u don’t know isn’t very good
Close to Larry page
Good ideas always sound crazy until they’re not
Wonders how to raise kids without adversity
Requires more reading time than video game time
No stupid video games allowed. Only those that have physics.
Smart people need to have more kids

Frivolous lawsuits against him
Smartest programmers were in gaming industry and used Microsoft c++ libraries
Thoughts on going public vs selling private stock options


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