Elon Musk has always been a thinker and creator. When he was young, he would daydream in an almost trance-like way. He wrote code for his own video game. After graduating from college, he chose to start a business instead of Wait for Internet companies to pay attention to themselves. Musk now serves as an executive at Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity, and OpenAI, focusing on electric vehicles and self-driving cars. , Private space exploration, Martian immigration, solar energy, artificial intelligence and many other high-tech fields. In addition to managing these companies and projects, he also has time to accompany his relatives, go to Hollywood, play video games, and think about more big goals. In the eyes of many people, Musk, who has always been known as a madman, is a mystery.
Almost crazy concentration
Musk was born in an upper-class family in South Africa on June 28, 1971. His father was an electrical engineer and his mother was a model who obtained a master’s degree in nutrition. When Musk was very young, his parents found that when talking to his son, he often stared into the distance, which made them worry about his hearing problems. After asking the doctor to remove the child’s adenoids, it was still the same-it turned out to be Musk. Too focused on certain things without noticing that the parents are talking to themselves. Mother Mey explained: “The son enters his own brain, and then you will see him in another world.” Musk often leaves his brothers and sisters, joins the successful people he admires and listens carefully, and then proposes no lack of sharp problem.
But Musk was very timid and shy when he was young, and his classmates gave him the nickname “Muskrat”. He was originally afraid of darkness, but later learned from reading that darkness itself is not terrible, it is just the absence of photons-lack of visible light with a wavelength between 400 and 700 microns. After understanding this principle, the 7-year-old is no longer afraid of the dark. He is recognized as an all-knowing person in the school, and he especially likes to correct the mistakes of his classmates. Therefore, he is often bullied by bad boys. He was pushed down the stairs and was seriously injured; once he was beaten badly. Misery also left sequelae. As he got older, the uneven nasal septum made it more and more difficult for him to breathe. By the age of 41, he had to undergo surgery to repair the deviated nasal septum. During his recovery from the surgery, while taking painkillers, he posted on Twitter the idea of a Tesla electric car: “I really want to be a small truck with ultra-low cg racing processing, dynamic air suspension and high torque.”
Musk’s younger brother Kimbal said that since he was a teenager, he has read two books in different subjects every day. The mother mentioned: “When my son was eight or nine years old, he had eaten up the entire set of Encyclopedia Britannica, and he could remember the contents.” The uncle also said: “Musk always holds the book wherever he goes. And most of them are advanced books.” He especially likes to read science fiction, among which “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is his favorite. In an interview with Vanity Fair in 2017, he shared: “Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is a science fiction novel about aliens destroying the earth, creating supersonic highways and understanding all the mysteries of life. , It was a turning point for me.”
Young and lonely, Musk devoted a lot of his time to programming and Marvel comics, quietly forming his own space dream. At the age of 12, Musk released a space game software called Blastar in the South African “PC and Office Technology” magazine and sold it to a company for $500. This became the first pot of gold in his life, it seems that he was born with the genes for entrepreneurship. In 2015, Google software engineers modified the software to run in HTML5. Although this is a junior game, don’t forget that it was created by a young boy 33 years ago.
Musk is proficient in many subjects and many people want to know how he taught himself so effectively. In this regard, he once replied: “I do feel that my head is full! My context switching is expensive, and process isolation is not what it used to be. But frankly, I think most people can learn far It’s much more than they thought. One suggestion: It’s important to think of knowledge as a big tree. Before you study the leaves (details), make sure to understand its main stem and big branches (basic principles), otherwise They have nothing to rely on.” At SpaceX, as the company recruits more and more outstanding employees, Musk has discovered that he can directly obtain knowledge from these top talents. He will catch any employee in the company and ask questions until he can understand more than 90% of the content. By learning directly from these smartest engineers, Musk became an expert in aerospace within a few years.
“Don’t be afraid of the new arena”
On January 25, 2018, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket was successfully fired for the first time. Musk sent a cherry-red Tesla sports car to space, and a dummy in a spacesuit, Starman, was placed on the driver’s seat. It will drift in the vast universe forever (1 billion years). There is also a miniature version of Asimov’s “Base” trilogy on the sports car, and the background music is David Bowie’s Space Oddity. On a circuit board of the Tesla Roadster, the words Made on Earth by humans (“Made on Earth by humans”) are clearly visible. On the on-board screen of the sports car, he read a sentence from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”: Dont Panic (“Don’t Panic”), which is also Musk’s motto.
So, let’s take a look at the crossover talent of genius Musk and his amazing performance:
Dropped out of Stanford University in 1995, founded the Internet company Zip2 with his younger brother, and later founded the X.com financial services and electronic payment company. In 2001, it acquired Confinity and officially changed its name to PayPal. ), which is the predecessor of “mobile payment”.
In 2002, he invested 100 million US dollars to establish SpaceX, a US Space Technology Co., Ltd., and began to develop the “Falcon” series of carrier rockets. In September 2008, the “Falcon 1” was successfully launched. In 2010, SpaceX’s “Tianlong” spacecraft was successfully developed and successfully tested with the “Falcon 9” rocket. In May 2012, “Tianlong” successfully docked with the International Space Station, and SpaceX became the only private company in human history to complete the space docking.
In 2004, Musk and his partners established the Tesla Electric Vehicle Company, and the next year Tesla’s first experimental prototype was released. In 2008, Tesla’s first model, the Roadster, rolled off the assembly line and was put on sale. In 2010, Tesla was listed on Nasdaq. Tesla has become the world’s best-selling pure electric luxury car brand.
In 2006, Musk invested 10 million US dollars and partners to jointly establish a photovoltaic power generation company, Sun City, to provide solar panel leasing, system design and installation, financing, construction supervision and other comprehensive solar services. In 2016, Tesla acquired Sun City, furthering the in-depth development and utilization of clean energy.
In 2015, Musk announced the implementation of the “Starlink” plan, which is to build a “Starlink” network composed of tens of thousands of satellites in space between 2019 and 2024, some of which are deployed in low-Earth orbit over the earth. If all goes well, low-cost Internet connection services can be provided worldwide. So far, Starlink has launched 422 satellites to low-Earth orbit, and it will eventually reach 42,000 in the future, which is equivalent to completely enclosing the entire earth.
In 2016, Musk established the “Brain-Computer Interface” (Neuralink) company, aiming to develop an ultra-high bandwidth “neural network”, dedicated to connecting the human brain with computers, supporting direct communication between humans and machines, and realizing The coexistence of artificial intelligence (AI). However, Musk is cautious about AI, worrying about its powerful ability to surpass human control: “Technically speaking, this is not a robot that will become too powerful, but a computer algorithm. If a large, centralized We can’t stop it if we’re transforming AI to make decisions.” Musk is not the only one who fears the power of AI. Other technology leaders such as Stephen? Hawking and Bill? Gates all hold the same view.
In December 2016, Musk, who was stuck in traffic jams in Los Angeles, set up a tunnel company called “The Boring Company” decisively. It plans to build a well-developed underground tunnel network to promote super high-speed rail (this kind of transportation depends on The high-speed transportation cabin inside the quasi-vacuum pipeline can achieve a speed of about 1,000 kilometers per hour) and the new transportation mode of underground tunnels to solve the problem of urban ground traffic congestion.
The reason why Musk develops green and clean energy, develops space exploration, etc., actually has only one purpose-to save mankind. He believes that the current fossil energy used by humans will eventually be used up one day, so new energy must be found to replace; and how long the earth can carry humans in the future is unknown to us. Perhaps one of the ecosystems is facing collapse, so we need to find another suitable for living. The planet, which is why he explored space. “I hope that what I do will have a profound impact on human life. Either do not do it, or do it historically.”
“A vacation will kill you”
In early 2001, Musk went to Brazil and South Africa on vacation. After returning to California, he had a malaria attack and almost died. Later he said: “This is the lesson I learned-vacation will kill you.” After that, he devoted more time to work. Musk asked his colleagues to kick him in the morning to wake him up-he slept on the beanbag but didn’t want to fall asleep. Sleep is not a reward for his hard work, but a factor that hinders his work. Musk often tells his employees that working only 40 hours a week cannot change the world, and no one has done it. You should work 80 hours a week, sometimes even 100 hours. In the schedule, he is very accurate, and every work must be completed on schedule. He once said to a friend: “If I can skip meals, I will have more working hours. I really hope I can get enough nutrients without meals.”
Musk never asks engineers about cost, but time is particularly strict, because time is money. In Musk’s company, you only have two minutes to clarify your opinions and convince him that if you can’t, you have to listen to him. A former manager said: “As long as he keeps nodding, I need to keep talking. And when he stops nodding, you need to shut up.” Many employees prefer to communicate with Musk via email. After pressing the “send” button, they will wait nervously, hoping to get a two-letter reply-“OK”. A former employee said that Musk’s long-form response may be criticism, or it may be a brand new marching order, and he will suddenly call the manager to the factory no matter what time at night. He is intolerant of any degree of incompetence. In the eyes of many people, Musk is quite ruthless and does not seem to understand loyalty and dependence. Mary Brown is a secretary who has followed him for many years, very loyal, and played a very important role in the early days of SpaceX. After returning from a vacation, she asked for a salary increase, and Musk immediately fired her on the grounds that she was used to representing Musk. His “dictatorship” caused a large number of managers to flee.
Musk’s habit of crazy work every week began with the creation of Zip2. Everyone was opening presents at Christmas that year, only Musk was working from getting up to going to bed, every day. The Zip2 sales representative went to Musk’s apartment and saw a mattress on the bedroom floor and more than 30 Chinese takeaway boxes. In an earnings conference call, he described his working environment like this: “I always move my desk anywhere. In fact, I don’t have a desk. I moved myself to the place where Tesla had the biggest problem. . I really think a team leader should be on the front line.”
According to reports, for a while, Musk would drink 8 cans of Diet Coke and a few cups of coffee every day. He explained that this is a way to stay awake and focused by working 100 hours a week during the entrepreneurial process. “I was very shocked. I really started to feel that my peripheral vision was disappearing.” Someone asked Musk: “What daily habit do you think has the greatest positive impact on your life?” Musk did not use “Get up early and express gratitude.” “Meditation” to respond, but to say “bath”.
In an interview with the ace show “60 Minutes”, Musk recalled the difficult days, with tears in his eyes and choked up for a while. At that time, he experienced the failure of 3 test launches of the self-developed “Falcon 1” rocket in 3 years, SpaceX’s funding bottomed out, Tesla encountered many difficulties such as delivery problems, and then suffered financial problems in 2008. The crisis has also been squeezed and ridiculed by the two giants of American space technology. Even Armstrong, the first man on the moon, has publicly criticized and questioned SpaceX’s commercial space projects. “He is the hero in my mind, and I am really sad.” Musk said, “I hope he will visit and see how difficult my work is.”
On the afternoon of June 22, 2020, Musk sent a brief email to all Tesla employees, emphasizing the importance of the last week of the quarter. Tesla will always sprint delivery in the last week of each quarter, but the sprint intensity at the end of the quarter will be crazier than ever. Affected by the epidemic, Tesla’s factory in Fremont has been suspended for more than a month, and the operating activities of many sales stores have also been restricted, so the company is doing its best to save the decline in sales during the quarter. Musk’s mobilization email sent to all staff also mentioned the goal of achieving profitability or creating a new delivery record.
“I wish to die on Mars”
Musk is very fond of Mars and has become a leading figure for mankind to go to Mars. The dream of emigrating to Mars has united countless top scientists around him and SpaceX. In Musk’s eyes, all people on earth are one. The reason why he is followed by everyone is because of his heart for all mankind. In a program in September 2015, the host invited Musk to share his views on Mars migration. Musk said: “You can finally transform Mars into a planet similar to the Earth and make it warm up…. There is fast The fastest way and the slowest way is to drop thermonuclear weapons at the poles.” His idea is to create two “suns” near Mars through nuclear fusion.
In 2016, Musk’s speech at the Mexico International Astronautical Conference revealed his ultimate goal-to continue human life and make humans a multi-planetary species. He once said affectionately: “You want to wake up in the morning and think that the future will be good. This is the whole content of space civilization. I can’t think of anything more exciting than going there or between galaxies. “In order to achieve the big goal of humans going to Mars, he broke it down into small executable goals. In fact, all commercial layouts are dedicated to achieving this goal. “Helping 1 million people to emigrate to Mars is because the earth has experienced five mass extinctions in history.” He pointed out, “According to deduction, it is likely to happen again in the next 50 million years. Therefore, we must preserve human civilization and emigrate to Mars. ”
The original intention of SpaceX was to allow humans to immigrate to Mars on a large scale and build a complete self-sustaining city there. He made a plan in 2017: first launch two unmanned spacecraft to explore the way, and after successfully landing on Mars, send the two ships aboard, establish a preliminary base to replenish the fuel back to the earth, and finally build the first preliminary base around 2050. A large-scale Martian settlement. SpaceX is actively building an interstellar spacecraft (Starship) to bring humans to this red planet.
For a while, Musk said that everyone would retire on Mars. His uncle Haldeman said that what his nephew did was to save humanity, not just to make money. Musk wrote in his autobiography: “I want to visit there and come back for a while. I will go there until I’m about 70 years old and live there. I hope to die on Mars. My wife, Riley, and I gave birth. Children may stay on the earth.”
“Ad Astra is doing well”
In 2014, Musk opened a private school called Ad Astra, with students including his own 5 children and some of the children of SpaceX employees. The school focuses on mathematics, science, engineering and ethics education, to more satisfy children’s interest and skill needs in these fields, and to avoid the dull stereotypes of general teaching. Ad Astra originated from a famous Latin saying “a bumpy road, and eventually reach the stars”, which is to hope that going to school becomes as fun as exploring the universe. Musk revealed in the interview that Ad Astra has not been established for a long time, is small in scale, and is still in the experimental stage. He said that he didn’t like school when he was a child, “because it was a torture”, so he hoped to abandon the defects of traditional education and provide a refreshing education and teaching model for children.
In order to create a personalized learning plan for each child, so that education meets their qualifications and abilities, Musk’s educational reform is to abolish grade division. Because each child has different points of interest and different abilities in different periods, if all children are to pass the exams of the same grade at the same time, just like an assembly line, it is not targeted. Another important change is the problem-solving-oriented teaching. Musk believes that the key to teaching is to enable children to know how to solve problems or to understand the problem, while traditional teaching only allows students to recognize the tools to solve problems, which makes a fundamental mistake. Taking the teaching of engine principles as an example, traditional education first teaches them to understand tools such as wrenches and screwdrivers; in Musk’s view, giving students an engine and then disassembling it will make the use of the tool obvious. This teaching method will be more effective. . “Ad Astra is running pretty well. My five children have benefited a lot and love to go to school.” “Project-based learning” (that is, students can freely choose the research projects they are interested in and work in teams) model inspired the children Their curiosity has enhanced their learning, creativity, participation and cooperation, which are very important for meeting future challenges.
Musk has not only made outstanding achievements in the fields of commerce, technology research and development, education, but also has no lack of artistic cells. He has played many times in Hollywood. It is said that Musk was the inspiration for Robert Downey Jr., the leading actor in the “Iron Man” series. He once suggested to the director that if you want to play Iron Man well, it is best to talk to Musk, because what Musk has had is The real life of Iron Man. In fact, director Jon Feiru used Musk as a prototype to make the “Iron Man” series of movies, and he also invited him to play a guest role in “Iron Man 2.”
In 2013, Musk photographed the Lotus Esprit submarine car in the 007 movie “The Spy Who Loved Me” for $866,000. “When I was a child in South Africa, I saw James Bond driving his Lotus Esprit down the dock in “The Spy Who Loved Me”, and pressing the button, it turned into an underwater submarine. It was great. I I was disappointed to learn that it can’t actually be deformed. What I want to do is to upgrade it with Tesla’s electric power system and try to make it a reality.”
Musk, who is naturally humorous, sometimes seems not serious. When naming the Tesla Model 3, “for stupid humorous reasons”, he wanted to name it Model E—according to his idea, adding the existing Model S and Model X to form SEX (meaning “Sex”). Fortunately, Ford has applied for a trademark for Model E, and Musk finally chose Model 3.