What You Think Can Be Done In One Year, Elon Thinks One Week Is Enough

“No, I don’t ever give up. I’d have to be dead or completely incapacitated.” — Elon Musk

When Elon Musk was in college, he figured three things would affect the future of humanity: Internet, sustainable energy, and multi-planetary life. He wanted to be a part of each.

While many people say and think about creating a better future, Elon Musk is one of the few who is working everyday to make it happen. Steve Jobs said: “Think differently”, and what Elon has done is way beyond it. “I’ve been an engineer with SpaceX for over five years now. I’ve seen and helped the company grow from less than 500 people in to the powerhorse it’s now. I highly doubt that there is a cooler company in the world than SpaceX,” said an anonymous SpaceX engineer.

However, to work with a brilliant businessman as Elon Musk is somewhat uneasy. The 44-years-old CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors has drawn some comparisons to Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs, and yet he’s just as insanely demanding and difficult to work with as Jobs once was. “If you want a family or hobbies or to see any other aspect of life other than the boundaries of your cubicle, SpaceX is not for you and Elon doesn’t seem to give a damn.”

One of Elon’s great quotes is that when you struggle with a problem, that is when you understand it. Nothing comes easily, especially if you want to change the world. Elon has gone through difficult times. In 2008, SpaceX had its third launch failure in a row, the Tesla financing round fell through due to the economy, Morgan Stanley backed out of a deal with SolarCity, and Tesla was in a lawsuit with former employees. All three of his companies were close to death. “I think it’s possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary,” said Elon.

To be successfully working with Elon, you have to set yourself as an extraordinariness. “There are some of the hardest working and brightest people in the world, mind you. And they’re universally defeated. The reason for this is that Elon’s version of reality is highly skewed. If you believe that a task should take a year then Elon wants it done in a week.”

You don’t just work smart, but you also need to work really hard. It happened a couple of years ago when Elon gave a talk in front of all his staff, he said: “Not enough of you are working on Saturdays”. It’s understandable. Putting people on Mars is not a small task. Making a fully-electric car that has a range of above 400 miles is not easy. Both Tesla Motors and SpaceX require a hard mentality. But Elon’s leadership is best compared to many other CEOs. “Starting and growing a business is as much about the innovation, drive and determine of the people who do it as it’s about the product they sell,” said Elon.

“In order to continue working with Elon, you have to learn to ignore almost everything he says and you have to be prepared to be jabbed over and over”. Elon puts 80-100 hours to work every week. And what keeps him going is caffeine and an unyielding desire to put a man on Mars. If you work for Tesla, the minimum is really a 50-hour week and there are times when it’ll be 60- to 80-hour weeks. There’s the regular Army, but they always try to make it fair compensation.

“It’s a great company and I do love it.”

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