Maren Kahnert, who is running the excellent website Elon Musk Interviews, has recently started Elon Musk Experience, a website that collects stories of how people learned about Elon and how this has affected their lives. Below is the story I have sent to her.
After Steve Jobs died in 2011, people started referring to Elon Musk as the “new” Steve Jobs. That’s when I started to pay attention. I was mesmerized by SpaceX and the Grashopper testflights in 2013, and that’s when I started to follow him on Twitter.
First, I went down the cosmos and physics rabbit hole, reading multiple books by Stephen Hawking, the Walter Isaacson biography of Einstein, and The Martian by Andy Weir (here’s a list of all books I have read in 2015). From that time on, I became obsessed with watching rocket launches, from Soyuz rockets to the ISS, to all SpaceX launches. I also started following the International Space Station, learning everything I could. Reading Ashlee Vance’s book on Elon Musk in 2015 opened my eyes further. From that time on I consider myself a true believer.
While I loved SpaceX, I remained quite critical of Tesla. Not the product, but the company. I just couldn’t imagine how they would ever get to profitability. When a friend of mine invested into Tesla in 2016 after he bought a Model S, I was joking that they are losing money with each car, and wished him luck. (Yes, I used to be that guy.)
In April 2017, everything changed. I rented a Tesla Model S for a weekend and drove it for 600 km. From that moment on I was hooked. I went down the Tesla rabbit hole, and I became a shareholder and believer later that year.
What I admire about Elon Musk:
- His companies are mission-first. They have a clear purpose.
- He is an owner-operator with true skin in the game.
- He has a long track-record of achievements.
- He puts his heart and soul into his products. And you can feel it in the product.
- He has the ability to attract the best talent and to bring the best out of them.
- He is willing to fight the hard battles (with incumbent space companies, with big oil, old auto etc.)
- He thinks from first principles. If something doesn’t defy the laws of physics, it is possible.
- He works on a better future. Something to look forward to.
- He could have retired in 1999 after he sold Zip2, but he keeps going until today.
- He may be one of the most important humans that ever lived. (This of course can only be assessed in hindsight after he will be long gone.)
Personally, he inspires me to do better work. To ask hard questions. To fight for a better future.
He also inspired me to start my YouTube channel, and to help document and explain Tesla’s achievements. Recently Elon liked one of my videos, which gives me confirmation that I might be onto something and inspires me to do even better work.
If you want to share your own story, feel free to submit it to Maren. As her website says: “Three sentences or three pages, with or without pictures, prose or poetry – any format is welcome.”