Part 2 is HERE! In this episode, I’m diving into the fascinating persona of Elon Musk and his unyielding commitment to his mission-driven ventures. We’ll look at Musk’s unconventional thinking, which propels him to tackle seemingly insurmountable challenges with innovative solutions. I even explore the interplay between his strengths and weaknesses, acknowledging the dual nature of his leadership style, which can drive results while posing challenges and how we too can leverage our “shadow selves” to get things done!

 

I’ll be sharing:

 

  • Examples of Elon Musk’s relentless dedication to his mission, even at the expense of personal comfort.
  • My thoughts on Musk’s hands-on approach, where he actively engages in solving problems alongside his team, especially during challenging times such as when Tesla faced production issues in 2018.
  • Musk’s ways of unconventional thinking, particularly in overcoming seemingly impossible challenges by pushing boundaries and defying the typical way of doing things.

 

… and so much more!

 

This book was so riveting and impactful for me as an entrepreneur, and I genuinely hope you read it yourself as you may find even more nuggets of wisdom. That said, I pulled out all of the lessons, tips, and takeaways I found to be especially relevant for business owners, and you can be sure to get all the juice right here!

 

Tune in to this episode if you want to take some extremely impactful notes on how to build and run a successful company. Not everything Elon does is perfect (or even recommended), but he does do so much right, and we have a lot to learn from him.

 

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READ THE EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Emily Hirsh:

 

I also love with all of his companies and this is a piece that I personally would not want to do in my life. But I think it’s really admirable that he will constantly, even today. I mean he was the richest I don’t know if he still currently is but richest man in the world. And he’s sleeping on the factory floor with his team because he’s so mission driven I think that’s probably the most inspiring part about him is how he’s so mission driven like honestly he doesn’t really care about the money and especially now. Things that he’s doing and the actions that he’s taking and in all of his companies. There was a time tesla spacex Twitter where he was sleeping in the office. You know, sleeping on the factory floor like even now his house is. Literally I think it’s like a 1-bedroom house right next to the Spacex whatever you call it spacex location and he lives in this simple 1 bedroom house and he spends his time there and he’s always there like he’s.

 

Right on the front lines and I think that’s really admirable because if you’re going to push your employees to the level that he pushes them which is far I mean again I think the people working for him. You don’t have work life balance but you are also bought into this mission and this opportunity. And so I think it’s a temporary thing a lot of times that people invest a certain amount of time in their life in being a part of the experience because they want to be a part of this opportunity. They want to be a part of the rockets launching or the autopilot in the cars or the robots or whatever. And they’re sacrificing time you know outside of work and they’re and they know that. But if you’re going to demand that of your employees I think it’s admirable that he’s doing it himself. You know with all the money he has and all that he could be doing. He cares and genuinely loves his mission so much that he’s right there on the front lines with his employees and especially when things are going bad. He was doing that I mean. He was living at you know Tesla or spacex or sleeping in the Twitter office during those early days and so that’s something that is definitely unique to him and has been something since the early days of his companies also embracing imperfection.

 

Really liked this so there were different examples throughout the book. 1 of them that stood out to me was Tesla and in 2018 they were not producing enough cars and like they were going to go out of business. They needed to make 5000 cars a week and I think they were making like less than 1000 so their entire factory it was just going way too slow and so if they didn’t get to 5000 cars a week. They were going to go out of business and so instead of taking forever to fix the factory and set up different things and. Make it a whole big deal and like where most CEOs probably would have been like we’re screwed like I’m quitting they literally set up a makeshift tent in the parking lot of Tesla and he was there. You know all day 24 hours a day working on this and then he had the entire staff focused on that number of how many cars that they were making a week so that you know that’s another piece to a lot of what he does is. Everybody’s focused on the mission and they understand the most important metric and it’s either. Like how many cars were produced a week or in Spacex It’s like how many rockets were a law chain and the and the metrics shift and change based on what’s important, but he’s got those countdown timers and he gamifies things and he rewards people. There was something in in Twitter that

 

They were focused on oh I can’t remember what it was something that they were doing they were trying to fix something and every time they oh no, it was tesla they were trying to go the number of minutes without an interruption in their auto drive that it wasn’t interrupted by a human. And then every time that something happened and it was interrupted and then they fixed it. They like ring a gong so they were like ringing celebrating like ring the gong we fix that thing and then they also were tracking the number of minutes. The car’s gone uninterrupted without human intervention in their autopilot so he gets these people focused on this mission so in Tesla in 2018 when they needed to pretty much 5 x the amount of cars that they were producing which is so crazy to think about in order to stay in business. He had everybody focused on. That number they made a makeshift tent and basically achieved the absolute impossible and so one thing that he quoted I wrote down was if conventional thinking makes your mission impossible then unconventional thinking is necessary I love that. Conventional thinking if the way that everybody’s like this is the way that you do it makes your mission impossible and says that that’s not possible then unconventional thinking is necessary that is so valuable right? there for us to remember when you look at your business and everything that you knew up until this point says.

 

You can’t do this, that thing is not possible, that mission is not possible or like this will take a year if you start to think unconventionally you can make it possible and he’s proof over and over again that is it easy no does it take some serious work some serious showing up. And some serious pushing and grinding sometimes, yes, another kind of rule that he had that I liked that I think is so important and it’s something I’ve noticed in my own business. But as you grow your business, you’ll start to have a leadership team or maybe you have 1 right now. He has a rule that all technical managers have to have their hands in what they’re managing and I think this is one of the biggest things that he did well that leads to a success so he refuses to separate his engineers from his designers. So people who are not actually building the thing can’t just design something and say go do it because they don’t know so this came up in multiple cases but it’s like the engineers for Tesla are also designers for the car and so for example, if he has a software team. Someone managing a software team. They have to spend 20% of their time managing and doing what they’re trying to manage when he was dealing with solarcity. He had these designers when he took over the company. He had these designers who were like this is how you have to build the roof.

 

And he’s like how many roofs have you built and the guy’s like well I’ve designed hundreds. He’s like no how many have you built up on the roof and he’s like 0 he’s like so you don’t know what you’re talking about get up on the roof and build and then come back and tell me what’s possible and he actually made the designers get on the roof. And work and figure out their design based on what was actually possible. So good because this is so true, like how can you manage things that you don’t actually do yourself at least a percentage of the time. So his coders his his designers. They’re all integrated. He never separates his engineers from the designers they work together or the engineers leave the design which is so how it should be and is so good and he embodies that like he’s not managing. Building the rockets without being there on the front line and helping with the engineering and understanding it deeply understanding it. Alright I have a few more of these throughout this. What was fascinating is especially when he took over Twitter. He was in a place where all of his companies were thriving. He was the richest man in the world and Tesla and Spacex and neurallink all these companies were doing amazing. 

 

Everything was going well and Elon time and time again he needed chaos. He needed to have a problem to solve in order to really thrive like he needs chaos. He needs a problem. He like you know things need to be on fire and I need to go fix it like he thrives in that energy and this is very very common. And entrepreneurs and so it’s really interesting to just witness like he’s probably aware of it. But the author of the book really just showcased it and so basically when he went to go buy Twitter there were no problems in his company and honestly him buying Twitter was him kind of creating. This massive project, this massive problem, this like a dumpster fire situation that he needed to go and fix because he thrives like he is. He doesn’t know how to be and so what he would do multiple times in his company is everything would be fine. And then he’d go create a big issue that would become a huge focus and he’d you know, bring his team over to that problem and get them focusing on it and make it like this big thing when in reality those things did probably hurt the company. But I was thinking about this and then I was having a conversation about it. I was telling my husband and I said you know it’s interesting because there are parts about Elon that if he did the work on himself and he healed those things he probably would be even more successful right? because.

 

Being addicted to chaos and being addicted to having a dumpster fire that you have to go put out is 100% A trauma response like you are more comfortable in chaos and the second there is no Chaos. You have to go create some I even resonate with that I don’t know. Always what to do when there’s not a problem for me to solve because a lot of my worth has come from that and I feel more comfortable in that. So I really relate and I was saying you know what? if he did work and you know solve that and the interesting thing to think about though that my husband said was. Well everybody has that shadow side. Everybody has a piece to them that they could improve and what about all of the good that that part of him has created and if he healed that would that take away from. The good that it’s creating and it’s so true like his ability to handle pressure and chaos comes from this. It comes from him thriving in that type of environment and so if he went and. You know, healed that where he didn’t need to be in chaos anymore and he didn’t need to have problems to Solve. He might just retire like you know and so it’s really fascinating to think about that and think about how we oftentimes for ourselves and for other people conjure up this.

 

Perfect version that we should be or that they should be like I think people really criticize Elon Musk and they’re like here’s all the bad things that he’s done or that he does and how he behaves and honestly Steve Jobs had those things too like they’re both assholes to their employees. They absolutely are. But if you’re willing to look at and say okay this dark side of them. The lack of emotion, the thriving in the chaos, the ability to just like turn off and be focused on a mission but also handle pressure like all those things they have a negative side to them. They also are often what creates success and so I’m not absolutely saying like don’t heal. You know I’ve worked a lot in my life. On healing those pieces in me that thrives in chaos that needs to have problems that wants to go and solve problems and has that in me. But the reason I work on healing that is because of the parts of my life that it impacts that I don’t want it to be in the presence with my kids, my health, or my nervous system. All those things. But if you took that away from Elon like would he be who he is is kind of what I’m saying and I think accepting.

 

Someone’s dark side and understanding that while it does have some negative impact.. It also has directly contributed to the success is an interesting perspective to take and. I Often find in my own life that my greatest weaknesses are also my greatest strengths. I say this all the time. Actually I Also say it with employees like oftentimes Our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness and so therefore. The things that we do that actually create our success can also create the biggest problems and struggles in obstacles in our life. So the solution to that is not completely eliminating that piece to you. It’s figuring out what is the balance and when do you cross over the line that it has more of a negative impact or what do you need to be aware of to counterbalance it. So if Elon knows I mean I’m not giving advice to elon. But I’m using this as an example. If Elon knows okay I go and I create chaos when there is not chaos I thrive in that I enjoy that I am fulfilled by that and when I don’t have it I don’t know what to do? Okay, if he knows that then he can use that.

 

In the moments where there is genuine chaos because he has $6000000000 companies or whatever multi million and billion dollars. He can use that chaos, the ability to thrive in that chaos and the level of pressure he can handle to his advantage in those moments. And when it crosses over the line is when he goes and buys Twitter as a complete distraction and it takes away from Spacex which he said it did like he said that he didn’t know why he did that you know so if you’re aware of that you can counteract it. When you know when it gets out of balance. But you’re not trying to eliminate it and I feel like so often we’re like okay this part of me I need to just completely stop like it’s black or it’s white and I’ve felt that way like this part of me that is so disciplined and. Hardcore and has this grit like maybe that’s a bad thing and I’ve gone through this especially in the last year of like wait a second that’s actually my superpower I do not want to get rid of that. Like my ability to push through challenges and accomplish and overcome and have grit when needed is my superpower when it crosses over the line of.

 

I’m creating scenarios that I have to do at the expense of my family or my health or my friends or my presence. That’s when it’s tilted out of balance I can save that superpower for the moments I really need it. It’s kind of like being a professional athlete and it’s like you don’t. Go at one hundred and ten percent every single day but when it’s race day and when you need to step up to the plate like you go so in my company when something happens a situation happens or it’s time for me to. Step into a chaotic situation to be able to handle pressure to push through to have grit. I can do it no problem but I don’t have to operate that way every single day. So I think there’s something really powerful in understanding our greatest weakness. And how it actually I could guarantee like if you look at parts of you that you have maybe felt shame for or have been too intense or can get out of balance those pieces of you have contributed to your success I guarantee I could find an example for all of them. So it’s not about eliminating those. As entrepreneurs because we often, especially as entrepreneurs, have parts of us that are so different from the norm and because society tries to say oh we should all be like each other we should all be the same and if you’re not like these things are bad.

 

We start to think that when really we learn how to work with them and leverage them when needed but not let them cross over to negatively impacting things and only you know, right? when that is then it becomes a superpower. So. That was my own takeaway on that and then 2 more things. The other thing that I felt was validating. Let’s say and I want to be careful. How I say this but Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs like there’s plenty of evidence that they can be complete assholes to their employees and are extremely direct and can say hurtful things. And I can resonate with this because there are times in situations that I can completely remove emotion and I can just see it for what it is. Right? And then what that does is means I don’t have empathy for the other person and I’m talking about with business and I do think like there’s an element to being a Ceo or being a leader that you have to have.

 

And I I think some people aren’t going to like to hear that but with the level of pressure that you have to handle as a Ceo and decisions that you have to make for example, layoffs, firing, holding someone accountable. Those things can be challenging.

 

Those things can make somebody who really struggles with confrontation and empathy or not a lack of empathy but over empathy empathizing not make decisions for the best of the company. And so this is my theory I think successful and I’m talking like multimillion dollar CEOs do have to have a level of not being too nice I feel like it’s going to come off wrong. However, I think that instead of allowing that to impact people around them in Employees. It’s about having an awareness around that and balancing it So in the situations where you may not be. You know you’re being too direct and you know like okay I could tone this down a little bit. I could be nicer here but also the best thing that successful entrepreneurs can do is build a small team around them who can handle that and can represent them to the rest of the team. This is something I’ve learned and I can see it evident in all of Elon’s companies is he’s got these like right hand people in all these companies who know how to deal with him who know how to deal with his dark side and as I just said like you could you could shit on that dark side all day long.

 

But it’s also why he’s successful. You know so you also have to accept it and he’s built these people that support him to represent him to the rest of the company. A lot of times. Not all the time but a lot of times. So therefore. You’re kind of allowing the entrepreneur to be themselves to be able to make those tough decisions to be able to hold the team accountable to be able to stay focused on things like deadlines and you know money and those things that are just like facts of business. While also protecting the majority of the team from those so you don’t have team churn and I hope I’m nowhere near like Elon Musk’s ability to be an asshole but I can be really direct and I I do see business a lot of times as as. What is the logic and I don’t need to have the feel good stuff I don’t need to have the emotion behind it like let’s just get the shit done and this is the situation. You know I just don’t take things personally I know how to not take things personal and a lot of people that it’s not. Case for them and that’s not good or bad is just I find that a lot of times Ceos don’t have a problem with feedback or direct conversations but a lot of people do and so it can cause issues.

 

I’m not excusing being an asshole, could be a lot nicer. Yes, but I am saying that embracing who you are as an entrepreneur and understanding your greatest strength can also be your greatest weakness. So with that awareness, how do you build a company that protects people from when you can maybe get out of balance but that out of balance also is what drives results and allows you to move through times that are challenging and that being direct and being able to hold people accountable and make tough decisions that a lot of times people aren’t going to like you’re going to get criticism. It is the job of a Ceo and sometimes you gotta be ruthless to protect a business and a mission you know and then the last thing that I think is an important reminder is one of my favorite stories in in the book was when he took over Twitter and there was something with the server room where they had all the servers. And it must be a massive room like I’m trying to picture it and I can’t and I think it had like hundreds of servers and they were paying $100000000 a $100000000 to store these servers and he was on his jet with somebody else who was a big part of Twitter once he took it over.

 

And they’re like why don’t we just go move them right now if they turned around the jet they landed in Sacramento. They rented. The only car was Christmas Eve. The only car they could rent was a toyota Corolla here’s Elon Musk a billionaire and this high up executive I don’t even I don’t remember. What his role was but he was like a core part of the Twitter experience. They ran a Toyota Corolla and they drive to the server room and there’s a worker there and they’re like we’re going to move these and the guy like no, you can’t and elon’s like why. Can’t I unbolt it there and do this and do this and he’s like no like this this would take months to be able to move like you can’t do it. He’s like well what happens if I do and the guy didn’t know so he goes and gets his own tools elon from the store and goes under the server and like un does the bolt and does it himself. And they start moving him in the truck and and like in a moving truck and the company that is hosting the servers calling him and is like you can’t do this. You know like you’re going to break the floorboards and I don’t know and he’s like well I already moved for you know so it was just like that. First of all. Unconventional thinking second of all questioning everything third of all taking risks and they ultimately ended up moving them. He paused for two days because it was Christmas then they moved him but what I took from it. 1 thing was he was having so much fun doing something like this like a challenge you know.

 

He’s in a Toyota Corolla and he’s going and doing this like it feels like it’s a startup business like we’re going to go do something crazy and we’re going to do this and so I think it’s important to remember that energy when you start a business and you have. The excitement and the problems you’re solving and you have like all these things you’re faced with and you’re and you’re getting momentum but it’s not necessarily easy. It’s like we don’t want to lose that as we grow a business and I think that in those moments where. There is actual challenge is when Elon is the most happy and I think as humans that is true for us like we are happy when we are overcoming and we are working towards something and we have a purpose around it and so. I think as you grow your business and this is something I’ve definitely experienced, how can you retain that passion and create that passion in your business like in those beginning days where you have those new exciting challenges and different things you’re doing and you’re starting to get momentum and you’re like. Overcoming and when I took my month off in February that’s 1 thing that I learned was when I took that space and I wasn’t in the day-to-day like rinse repeat routine I started to feel that excitement again and I was doing new things and I was trying new things and I had new ideas.

 

And so whether that’s a challenge or it’s like you know getting in on the front lines and helping your team with something or it’s trying something new that you have no idea if it’s going to work or not. It’s like doing those things is what gives us energy and keeps us alive and it’s really really important and so it’s interesting to see like the richest man billionaire in a Toyota Corolla going he doesn’t have to do that. Why is he doing that you know and it’s just like because he wanted to. It was so great I I think about that story still all right? You guys those are my takeaways from Elon Musk’s biography. I think there’s some huge lessons and thoughts here. It’s like a 20 hour long audiobook. But I really recommend it because I’m sad it’s over because I had this like behind the scenes story of Elon and it’s just wild. So I hope you guys go listen to it send me a message on your favorite takeaway from these 2 parts. And I’ll talk to you next week