Google CEO Larry Page said at a TED Conference earlier this year that he would rather give his billions to Elon Musk than charity. And we are quite sure if this happens, he will use them in a way no one else can. Elon Musk is a very private person and not much is known about his life. This morning he did a short AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit, prior to the launch of the Falcon 9. Readers took the opportunity to ask him some rather personal questions that he sportingly answered. Read on for a rare glimpse into Elon Musk’s life and thoughts.
Q: I’m a teacher, and I always wonder what I can do to help my students achieve big things. What’s something your teachers did for you while you were in school that helped to encourage your ideas and thinking? Or, if they didn't, what's something they could have done better? thanks!
Elon Musk: The best teacher I ever had was my elementary school principal. Our math teacher quit for some reason and he decided to sub in himself for math and accelerate the syllabus by a year.
We had to work like the house was on fire for the first half of the lesson and do extra homework, but then we got to hear stories of when he was a soldier in WWII. If you didn't do the work, you didn't get to hear the stories. Everybody did the work.
On Model 3
Q: Hi Elon, I'm already saving up for my Model 3. Can you share anything about the Model 3 that we don't already know?
Elon Musk: It won't look like other cars.
A habit for positive impact
Q: What daily habit do you believe has the largest positive impact on your life?
Elon Musk: Showering.
Q: How do you learn so much so fast? Lots of people read books and talk to other smart people, but you've taken it to a whole new level.
It seems you have an extremely proficient understanding of aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, software engineering, all various subdisciplines (avionics, power electronics, structural engineering, propulsion, energy storage, AI) etc. etc. nearly all things technical.
I know you've read a lot of books and you hire a lot of smart people and soak up what they know, but you have to acknowledge you seem to have found a way to pack more knowledge into your head than nearly anyone else alive. Do you have any advice on learning? How are you so good at it?
Elon Musk: I do kinda feel like my head is full! My context switching penalty is high and my process isolation is not what it used to be.
Frankly, though, I think most people can learn a lot more than they think they can. They sell themselves short without trying.
One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.
On facing adversity
Q: Hi Elon, I currently work for Toyota Tsusho in Fremont doing the wheel assembly for Tesla. I want to let you know how proud I am to be however minutely linked to such a powerful and positively influential company such as yours. Keep doing the good work, sir. You are an inspiration to not only myself but countless others around the world.
My question: You seem to have had to deal with a tremendous amount of adversity in a few of your ventures. Do you have any advice for those dealing with seemingly insurmountable adversity?
Elon Musk: There is a great quote by Churchill: "If you're going through hell, keep going."
On taking rest
Q: Follow-up question: How much do you sleep per night, on average?
Elon Musk: I actually measured this with my phone! Almost exactly 6 hours on average.
Changing the world through Politics
Q: Would you ever consider becoming a politician?
Elon Musk: Unlikely
Q: 1) What is your favorite airplane?
2) What is your favorite video game?
3) What is your favorite food?
4) If you consume alcohol, what is your favorite alcoholic drink?
Elon Musk: 1) SR-71
2) Hard to pick a favorite. I tend to like FPS with a story, like Bioshock, Fallout or Mass Effect, but was also a big fan of Civ(civilizations) and Warcraft.
3) French and BBQ
What would you do if the launch is successful
Q: Hi Elon, I'll leave the technical questions to the experts. 1) do you plan on getting any sleep tonight and 2) how will you celebrate if the test is successful? Best of luck!
Elon Musk: Yes, but probably only a few hours.
Party at Cocoa Beach!
Click here to read the complete AMA.