When he was growing up, Elon Musk would go to the bookstore at 2pm and read till 6pm, getting in home just in time for his parents.
Reading both fiction and non-fiction copiously, he once remarked that he ran out of books to read at the school and neighborhood libraries.
The Baron of Business
Born on June 28, 1971, Elon Reeve Musk today wears many hats of technology entrepreneur, investor and engineer.
He is the founder, CEO and lead designer of SpaceX and product architect of Tesla, co-founder and CEO of Neuralink, The Boring Company, OpenAI and PayPal.
In 2016, he was ranked 21st on the Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People. Today, he has a net worth of over $18 billion and is listed by Forbes as the 58th richest person in the world.
Books beyond now and today
Reading seemed to be the lifeline for his career, his self-reflection and his personality, which was mostly introverted and helped to create his ‘ideal’ world in his mind.
As a young boy, Elon Musk had a kind of “compulsion to read” and seemed to be seen with a book in hand all the time.
Viewers commented that he was reading for almost ten hours a day. Sometimes, during the weekend, he could finish even two books by night. At nine years, he finished reading Encyclopedia Britannica and would devour even science fiction novels.
Through self-reflection and introspection, Elon Musk mentioned that he had been raised by “Books, and then my parents.”
He recalled that he didn’t have a nanny, just had a housekeeper, while “he was off making explosives and reading books and building rockets.”
Self-reflection and success
By reading, Elon not only became a thinker but also an innovator, who banked on books for self-reflection and spark off new ideas and projects.
Once, his brother Errol, remarked: “Elon has always been an introvert thinker… where a lot of people would go to a great party and have a great time and drink and talk about all sorts of things like rugby or sports, you would find Elon had found the person’s library and was going through their books.”
Challenges to success
Brought up in South Africa, Elon Musk faced several incidents of bullying, mainly due to his interests in studies and science. An incident almost killed him, until he just about got away with only a ruptured ear drum.
In his entrepreneurial career, Elon Musk kept failing, but self-reflection, rebuilding and taking up successful threads helped him every time.
For instance, in 2008, his company Tesla nearly imploded during the financial crisis. But he did not give up. He sank his last $35 million into the company.
Today, Tesla comes out with the most niche electric cars, because he never flagged in his efforts to keep the company alive.
“Failure is an option here. If you are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” He also said that he never gives up, or he would have to be “dead or completely incapacitated”.
His favourite books
Elon Musk recommends a number of books that have inspired him. One of his favourites that he recommended was Howard Hughes, by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele. His review says of the book: “May be a cautionary tale, he is sort of an interesting fella.”
Initially he read too many works by “moody philosophers” Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. But later the book on “A Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy” by Douglas Adams took him to another journey.
He said: “And it highlighted an important point, which is that a lot of times the question is harder than the answer. And if you can properly phrase the question, then the answer is the easy part.”
Where to tomorrow?
Through reading and self-reflection, Elon Musk has already visualized major changes that he wants to drive in the world.
Apart from electric cars, some of his plans include visualizing the Hyerloop, which is described to be a high-speed transportation system. He has also planned a vertical take-off and landing supersonic jet electric aircraft titled the Musk electric jet.
Inter-stellar population and inhabitation of other planets is also big in his list.
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