What makes Elon Musk tick? Bloomberg Businessweek writer Ashlee Vance looks to answer that question in his new book, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. But the SpaceX and Tesla Motors chief didn't make it easy.
For Vance, a Johannesburg, South Africa native, part of the drive to unravel the strange legends surrounding Musk was their shared heritage. But as he told PCMag in a recent phone interview, Musk did not return the fascination.
"I thought that being born in South Africa, like Musk, would give me an 'in' – but it didn't, no, " he laughed.
Vance spent over 50 hours interviewing Musk, who sold PayPal for $1.5 billion and went on to found SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity. He also spoke with 300 of his friends, family, and colleagues, at least those who would talk on the record.
"My first impression?" says Vance. "He's hard to read and a lot bigger, physically, than you'd expect. Imposing, in fact. But his personality doesn't quite match his appearance. You get the feeling that's he's judging you, that the interview is going to be over very quickly if you say the wrong thing."
In the book, Musk comes off guarded and somewhat volatile. Yet he is clearly aware of the useful PR surrounding a book that places his legacy on par with other eccentric industrialists, innovators, and inventors like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Howard Hughes. Despite demands to have some sort of copy approval (which Vance refused), it seems Musk is still talking with his biographer, albeit grudgingly.
"He didn't get to see the finished book until I knew the presses were running, " explains Vance. "Then I sent him an electronic version. At first I got a stream of less than pleasant emails. But then, after a few days, he sent me a note and said that: 'On the whole, it was well done.' That's good enough for me."
Today, however, Musk took to Twitter to refute some of the stories in Vance's book. For example, he denies criticizing an employee for missing work to be at the birth of his child. "We're changing the world and changing history, and you either commit or you don't, " Musk allegedly wrote in an email.
It is total BS & hurtful to claim that I told a guy to miss his child's birth just to attend a company meeting. I would never do that.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk)
You might also like:
Steve Jobs: Steve Jobs' Life Lessons & Secrets to Success (Entrepreneur, Visionary, Success Principles, Law Of Attraction, Business Books, Influence, Entrepreneurship)