Elon Musk

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Elon Musk" by Ashlee Vance. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What kind of attitude does Elon Musk have? How do you apply Elon Musk’s attitude to your own work?

Elon Musk’s attitude all starts with a do-it-yourself mentality. The ability to take on multiple roles in his companies makes Musk an exceptional CEO, although once in a while it comes back to bite him.

Keep reading to discover how Elon Musk’s attitude impacts his work and management style.

A Do-It-Yourself Attitude

Musk has a do-it-yourself attitude toward his work, meaning that if he wants something done and he knows how to do it, he’ll do it himself. As part of his DIY mentality, Musk learned to take on many different roles in each of his companies. Even if a task isn’t one typically done by a CEO, he’ll complete it. His job is to fulfill the company’s mission, not be confined by roles.

Musk thinks it’s important that his employees know that he’s working just as hard as he expects them to work. Elon Musk’s attitude is a testament to his belief in their mission. This effort has paid off because his employees and people close to him note that he’s an extremely hard worker. They admire that he’s not afraid to do any job, even working on the factory floor to test a valve seal. 

However, not everyone appreciates this approach. Some employees find this tactic abrasive. For example, employees at Zip2 would return to their work to find that Musk had gone in and changed their code while they were gone. To them, this was rude and made their effort feel like a waste of time. To Musk, this was the quickest fix to the problem he’d noticed. He knew he could fix it and didn’t consider how it would make his employees feel. 

Honoring the Technician Role

The DIY mentality as part of Elon Musk’s attitude is reminiscent of Michael Gerber’s idea of the technician in The E-Myth Revisited. The technician is an individualist and a doer who produces the product or service, taking a tactical approach focused on the work that needs to be done. Experts echo the importance of Gerber’s idea of the technician role—which often goes overlooked once the company starts succeeding—noting that a good business leader can complete any job in the company. Musk doesn’t slack in his technician role, despite his business’ success.

Gerber explains the three roles or mindsets every business owner needs to cultivate to run a successful business. A business won’t succeed if its leader fulfills just one role—it takes all three to succeed: creating a vision (entrepreneur), translating your vision into action through systems and processes (manager), and getting the work done (technician). As in the case of Musk, when all three roles are balanced, the business can succeed.
Elon Musk’s Attitude: The Importance of a DIY Mentality

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Ashlee Vance's "Elon Musk" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Elon Musk summary :

  • A look into Elon Musk’s childhood and early companies
  • Musk's roles in SpaceX and Tesla, and later, in SolarCity
  • The traits and management methods that helped Musk succeed

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