Book Review: Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I’ve never been a fan of biographies, even though that’s probably an unqualified statement as I haven’t read too many. As Elon Musk seems to be the most intrepid man of our times, I decided to take the plunge and give this a chance, as it comes highly recommended from many of my mentors.

The book paints an in-depth picture of who Elon Musk is, who he was growing up, and how he got to where he is today. After reading this, it has confirmed to me that Musk is the ultimate visionary of our times. The man who sees the future and is doing all he can to ensure humanity has a future to reach. He seems to be truly selfish in his drive to achieve his goals, not letting anything or anyone stand in his way, which contradicts completely with his actual goals which are the epitome of selflessness; focusing on the continuation of humanity by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, while breaking barriers to lead the race to Mars and establish the first human colony away from the Earth.

To say this is an enormous task is an understatement of the grandest magnitude, but it is a task I have no doubt he will fulfil. This is a man with a drive, vision, determination and work ethic unmatched and unparalleled. A man who is willing to take the ultimate risks to follow his beliefs. A man who has on multiple occasions been close to bankruptcy, but has fought through on each occasion without changing his vision or looking sideways to consider the naysayers. Although he can change his methods and does listen to other trusted partners, it is his vision and his vision alone which drives him and his companies to achieve the results they do.

Back in the early 80’s when Elon was 10 years old growing up in Johannesburg, he managed to persuade his father to buy him a new home computer called the Commodore VIC-20. The computer had 5KB of memory, and to the young Elon was the most amazing thing he had ever seen, with the potential to change the world. The basic programming language would take on average 6 months to learn. Musk stayed up for 3 nights running with no sleep, and was an expert on the programming language within 3 days. 

Countless people who have worked with him attest to this intensely focused work ethic. It is this drive which he kept throughout his life, in everything he has done, to ensure he reached the incredible achievements and heights he is at today. 

It seems rather apt that I finished this book just as SpaceX launched its first Falcon Heavy into space (Feb 6th 2018). Keeping to the basics of reusable energy and reusable modula parts, the Falcon Heavy is made up of three Falcon 9’s around the core of the Falcon Heavy. These Falcon 9’s were SpaceX’s original rockets. When it launched, it could carry more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle (produced by United Launch Alliance), at less than one third of the cost. 

This is typical of Musk’s achievements throughout his life. He not only aimed to be better than the next, he aimed to be so much better, that his competitors are left scrambling in his wake to catch up, or be consigned to the history books.

When he challenged such an old establishment as the American car manufacturing industry with Tesla, nobody took him seriously. Nobody ever believed there was a chance a new car company could succeed. But Musk believed so strongly in his vision. Even though he hit multiple challenges along the way, he ultimately changed the way the industry works forever.

There are many who believe Musk is a self obsessed megalomaniac business man, only striving for his own personal goals to become the richest and most powerful man in the world. But after reading this book, I do not see him like that at all. It is a fact that he may well become the richest most powerful man in the world, but that was never the goal he strived for. The wealth will simply be a result of his accomplishments pushing the boundaries of the impossible.

If there is any proof his goals are not selfish, but are actually underlined by a genuine sincerity to ensure humanity has a long term future, it is this; Musk has open-sourced all of his Tesla patents for anybody to read and learn from. His theory is by open-sourcing his patents, other companies can build and produce electric cars more easily. If it is good for mankind, his ideas should be given freely for anybody to use and build upon.

I am not one for hyperbole. But with the current state of global political affairs with seemingly unfit people running the most powerful countries, if there was ever an argument for a new world order, it would be today. Let’s break down borders and realise we are all one human race, one species heading directly into oblivion with overuse of energy consumption. Smash the existing political systems and vote Elon Musk as the leader of the free Earth. Because if there’s one person on this planet who seems obsessed with the survival of our species, it is Mr. Elon Musk.

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