In Rocket Man: Elon Musk In His Own Words, scheduled for release on Valentines Day, Jessica Easto offers us a portrait of the visionary celeb entrepreneur: a compilation of 100 of his quotes from interviews, speeches, and articles.
Orange Pop: How did you get the idea to make this collection of quotes from Elon Musk ?
J.E: The publisher where I work, Agate Publishing, has a series of books called In Their Own Words. Each book collects the quotations from top entrepreneurs and business leaders around the world. We have books the focus on Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Jack Ma… I thought a book focusing on Elon Musk would be a great addition to the series. I wanted to learn more about him and how he thinks. His choice to pursue these highly improbable endeavors sets him apart from other innovators. In short, his causes seem noble and his success seems improbable. That’s enough incentive for me !
Moreover it’s particularly interesting for Musk to get this treatment. He is known for correcting journalists who, in his view, twist is words or report the facts wrong. He must be hypervigilant of this kind of thing because he is competing against very powerful interests. Also, one of the way he tries to combat misinformation is by explaining things to journalists and the public in as clear of a way as he can.
O. Pop: How did you collect, select and organize all these quotes ? Are some unpublished before ?
J.E: Essentially, I read, listened, and watched everything I could get my hands on. This amounted to hours and hours of audio and video. I focused more on videos and audio recordings of public appearances. As I mentioned, Musk has talking points that he tends to repeat, and his fans can likely recite them almost word for word. I wanted to include those since they seem to represent the foundations of his worldview, but I also include quotes that fans may never heard before. All of them come from sources that are available to the public, but may be lesser known. I organized the book into 10 chapters by subject, including “Learning and Logic”, “Environmentalism and Sustainable Energy”, “Life Lessons”… There are more than 200 quotes in all.
O. Pop: Precisely, what do his quotes and sayings say about him ? Is he really like his reputation, a visionary engineer and a genius entrepreneur ?
J.E: I think his quotes reveal that he is a highly rational, skilled, and principled businessman. People tend to be skeptical of his self-proclaimed mission to ensure a positive future for humanity because 1) that doesn’t sound rational and 2) people tend to think such a claim is pretentious or that it couldn’t possibly be as selfless as it seems. But, after spending hour upon hours listening to Musk speak (from his PayPal days to the present), I’m convinced that he certainly wants to change the world for the better through his companies (and in many ways, he already has) and that guides his business decisions.
Very few business leaders understand the nuts-and-bolts of their products as well as Musk does at Tesla and SpaceX. He believes deeply in his missions, which I think helps him keep up his rigorous work responsibilities. It will be fascinating to see how he continues to innovate the manufacturing sector, especially car manufacturing in the United States. Although he is fabulously wealthy, money doesn’t seem to motivate him in the way it might others, which is an unusual quality for entrepreneurs, at least in the United States.