Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance [Summary]

The Book In Three Or More Sentences:

Unique chance to get into the life (and mind) of one of the most interesting guys of the 21st century – Elon Musk. The guy behind PayPal, SpaceX, SolarCity, The Boring Company, and Tesla Motors. How he got started in the business world with companies like PayPal and later SpaceX? What he’s up to now? How does he imagine the future and how dreaming huge (not only big) can make you a modern superstar?

The Core Idea:

Don’t just aim to make money or chase momentary opportunities, create your own meaningful worldview, your own mission that will be beneficial for society as a whole, not only you. With your actions, try to solve big problems, like Musk. All the companies Elon manages are devoted towards making Earth a better place to live.


  • Find a life-changing purpose to pursue and share it with other people.
  • Complaining won’t help you much in life. You should create your own opportunities.
  • Vacations can literally kill you. If you really want to make it, you should get used to pain and long hours of hard work.

5 Key Lessons Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future:

Lesson #1: Figure Out What Questions To Ask Yourself

If we ask the right questions, we’ll eventually come up with the right answers. Unfortunately, we rarely talk to ourselves in a sense of figuring out what we really want from life.

Once you figure out the question, then the answer is relatively easy. I came to the conclusion that really we should aspire to increase the scope and scale of human consciousness in order to understand what question to ask.” Elon Musk

Or in other words, finding meaning should be our top priority.

Not only that many of us have no clear idea of what they want to do with their lives, but this lack of purpose is passed onto their children. We should strive to change this. Once we find our higher purpose, we should later try to pass it to our kids and to others around.

Here Elon Musk is not talking about finding a good stable job, no, he means finding something greater than that. Working, pursuing something that will one day help humanity advance. Something lasting, meaningful. Being rich has no real value if you’re later just keeping all of your money for yourself or your job doesn’t help others.

For example, Musk’s determination for clean solar energy is admirable and inspiring. In 2014, he made all Tesla patents and analysts public. With this action, he wanted to help other companies build electric cars more easily, which will inevitably help mankind.

It might sound cliche-ish but giving back and aiming big is what you should do if you really want to make a difference in the world. To do so, ask yourself questions. Hard questions. Like, “What long-term thing I could focus on that will improve other people’s lives?”

Lesson #2: You Create Your Own Opportunities

Musk was/is an opportunist, a visionary from an early age. He started crafting his future very young. After abounding South Africa, and reuniting with his cousins in Canada, one of his daily activities was cold calling people who he was interested in meeting. The people, he and his brother “harassed,” were all people in top-level positions, working in local firms. Or in other words, Elon was determined from a really young age to become successful.

So, don’t be like your lazy uncle who only complains about how the government is corrupt and how his boss underestimates him. Be like Musk, proactive.

You alone, can create the future you desire for both you and the people around you. This means finding and seizing opportunities. Don’t wait for your boss, mom, spouse, or some random internet influencer to tell you what to do. You, alone, should find these things on your own. Complaining won’t get you anywhere. It’s just a verbal expression of your own failures and it doesn’t really help you.

If you really want to make progress and feel good about yourself, try looking at things from a different angle. Don’t say, “I failed because my boss is a prick,” Rather, think in ways that aspire further action, “I didn’t get the promotion. Probably I made a mistake somewhere. I should try harder and focus my efforts in a different direction.”

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