The Best You have gathered 58 quotes from the inventor of the Tesla electric car and the CEO of the SpaceX project – Elon Musk. Elon is a genius, with a fantastic understanding of business, engineering and physics.
His thoughts on all three and much more besides are well worth learning from!
1. When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.
2. Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product.
3. I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact.
4. Patience is a virtue, and I’m learning patience. It’s a tough lesson.
5. My background educationally is physics and economics, and I grew up in sort of an engineering environment – my father is an electromechanical engineer. And so there were lots of engineery things around me.
6. It’s OK to have your eggs in one basket as long as you control what happens to that basket.
7. I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.
8. Any product that needs a manual to work is broken.
9. There have only been about a half dozen genuinely important events in the four-billion-year saga of life on Earth: single-celled life, multicelled life, differentiation into plants and animals, movement of animals from water to land, and the advent of mammals and consciousness.
10. We’re running the most dangerous experiment in history right now, which is to see how much carbon dioxide the atmosphere… can handle before there is an environmental catastrophe.
11. Great companies are built on great products.
12. When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars people said, ‘Nah, what’s wrong with a horse?’ That was a huge bet he made, and it worked.
13. The fuel cell is just a fundamentally inferior way of delivering electrical energy to an electric motor than batteries.
14. Obviously Tesla is about helping solve the consumption of energy in a sustainable manner, but you need the production of energy in a sustainable manner.
15. Yeah, well I think anyone who likes fast cars will love the Tesla. And it has fantastic handling by the way. I mean this car will crush a Porsche on the track, just crush it. So if you like fast cars, you’ll love this car. And then oh, by the way, it happens to be electric and it’s twice the efficiency of a Prius.
16. Life is too short for long-term grudges.
17. If you get up in the morning and think the future is going to be better, it is a bright day. Otherwise, it’s not.
18. If you go back a few hundred years, what we take for granted today would seem like magic – being able to talk to people over long distances, to transmit images, flying, accessing vast amounts of data like an oracle. These are all things that would have been considered magic a few hundred years ago.
19. For all the supporters of Tesla over the years, and it’s been several years now and there have been some very tough times, I’d just like to say thank you very much. I deeply appreciate the support, particularly through the darkest times.
20. Silicon Valley has evolved a critical mass of engineers and venture capitalists and all the support structure – the law firms, the real estate, all that – that are all actually geared toward being accepting of startups.
21. If anyone thinks they’d rather be in a different part of history, they’re probably not a very good student of history. Life sucked in the old days. People knew very little, and you were likely to die at a young age of some horrible disease. You’d probably have no teeth by now. It would be particularly awful if you were a woman.
22. Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.
23. If you’re trying to create a company, it’s like baking a cake. You have to have all the ingredients in the right proportion.
24. The path to the CEO’s office should not be through the CFO’s office, and it should not be through the marketing department. It needs to be through engineering and design.
25. I do think there is a lot of potential if you have a compelling product and people are willing to pay a premium for that. I think that is what Apple has shown. You can buy a much cheaper cell phone or laptop, but Apple’s product is so much better than the alternative, and people are willing to pay that premium.
26. I think life on Earth must be about more than just solving problems… It’s got to be something inspiring, even if it is vicarious.
27. Really, the only thing that makes sense is to strive for greater collective enlightenment.
28. The problem is that at a lot of big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking. You’re encouraged to behave like a little gear in a complex machine. Frankly, it allows you to keep people who aren’t that smart, who aren’t that creative.
29. The future of humanity is going to bifurcate in two directions: Either it’s going to become multiplanetary, or it’s going to remain confined to one planet and eventually there’s going to be an extinction event.
30. Trying to read our DNA is like trying to understand software code – with only 90% of the code riddled with errors. It’s very difficult in that case to understand and predict what that software code is going to do.
31. SpaceX is only 12 years old now. Between now and 2040, the company’s lifespan will have tripled. If we have linear improvement in technology, as opposed to logarithmic, then we should have a significant base on Mars, perhaps with thousands or tens of thousands of people.
32. I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.
33. I’m glad to see that BMW is bringing an electric car to market. That’s cool.
34. I would like to fly in space. Absolutely. That would be cool. I used to just do personally risky things, but now I’ve got kids and responsibilities, so I can’t be my own test pilot. That wouldn’t be a good idea. But I definitely want to fly as soon as it’s a sensible thing to do.
35. Facebook is quite entrenched and has a network effect. It’s hard to break into a network once it’s formed.
36. It’s not as though we can keep burning coal in our power plants. Coal is a finite resource, too. We must find alternatives, and it’s a better idea to find alternatives sooner then wait until we run out of coal, and in the meantime, put God knows how many trillions of tons of CO2 that used to be buried underground into the atmosphere.
37. I do love email. Wherever possible I try to communicate asynchronously. I’m really good at email.
38. You could warm Mars up, over time, with greenhouse gases.
39. My opinion is it’s a bridge too far to go to fully autonomous cars.
40. When I was in college, I wanted to be involved in things that would change the world.
41. I don’t spend my time pontificating about high-concept things; I spend my time solving engineering and manufacturing problems.
42. An asteroid or a supervolcano could certainly destroy us, but we also face risks the dinosaurs never saw: An engineered virus, nuclear war, inadvertent creation of a micro black hole, or some as-yet-unknown technology could spell the end of us.
43. I think we are at the dawn of a new era in commercial space exploration.
44. I’ve actually not read any books on time management.
45. Physics is really figuring out how to discover new things that are counterintuitive, like quantum mechanics. It’s really counterintuitive.
46. The rumours of the demise of the U.S. manufacturing industry are greatly exaggerated.
47. It is theoretically possible to warp spacetime itself, so you’re not actually moving faster than the speed of light, but it’s actually space that’s moving.
48. I say something, and then it usually happens. Maybe not on schedule, but it usually happens.
49. I don’t create companies for the sake of creating companies, but to get things done.
50. I feel very strongly that SpaceX would not have been able to get started, nor would we have made the progress that we have, without the help of NASA.
51. The reason we should do a carbon tax is because it’s the right thing to do. It’s economics 101, elementary stuff.
52. Boeing just took $20 billion and 10 years to improve the efficiency of their planes by 10 percent. That’s pretty lame. I have a design in mind for a vertical liftoff supersonic jet that would be a really big improvement.
53. It’s important that we attempt to extend life beyond Earth now. It is the first time in the four billion-year history of Earth that it’s been possible, and that window could be open for a long time – hopefully it is – or it could be open for a short time. We should err on the side of caution and do something now.
54. With DNA, you have to be able to tell which genes are turned on or off. Current DNA sequencing cannot do that. The next generation of DNA sequencing needs to be able to do this. If somebody invents this, then we can start to very precisely identify cures for diseases.
55. If we could do high-speed rail in California just half a notch above what they’ve done on the Shanghai line in China, and if we had a straight path from L.A. to San Francisco, as well as the milk run, at least that would be progress.
56. People should pursue what they’re passionate about. That will make them happier than pretty much anything else.
57. As you heat the planet up, it’s just like boiling a pot.
58. I think there are more politicians in favor of electric cars than against. There are still some that are against, and I think the reasoning for that varies depending on the person, but in some cases, they just don’t believe in climate change – they think oil will last forever.