When you think of people who are leading the future and making our planet a better place, one of the first names that come to mind is Elon Musk.
From his work creating innovative electric cars like the Tesla Model S and the Tesla Roadster to SpaceX, which plans to send humans to Mars in the next decade, Musk has made his mark on the world as an entrepreneur and investor in numerous different ways over the last several years. Here are 10 amazing facts about Elon Musk that you probably didn’t know before today, presented in no particular order.
1) He hates email
If there’s a common thread throughout Musk’s life, it’s that he doesn’t like to repeat himself. That mindset has trickled down into his work ethic and his communication methods. If you have an email program and an Internet connection, you don’t need anyone else, he told a writer for The New Yorker. I try to get most of my communication through instant messages. It just seems so archaic to use email. He also hates multi-tasking: Because he doesn’t like redundancy or inefficiency, he says that when he has two things on his mind, one will go into a text file and not come out until it has been dealt with completely.
2) His favourite part of running Tesla
I’m most excited about building our factories. For me, that’s been a dream. I just love factories. There’s something very special about creating an environment where people try to push themselves to do things they thought were impossible and then actually live in that environment for a while and see how people react to each other. We just put out a job posting for building factory managers—people who can really create these magical environments where you have thousands of people working on doing one thing extremely well, like making automobiles or rockets or solar panels or batteries.
The hardest part is just figuring out how to scale. How do you take things that are really great at a small scale and make them fantastic at a large scale? There are a lot of inefficiencies when you have 4,000 people doing something—for example, if everyone has their own workstation, it takes 15 times as long to get information from one side of the factory to another as opposed to getting it from one person to person where there are only 100 people. We don’t even realize we’re creating inefficiencies like that. We take for granted that there are 100 people on a team and these sort of constraints and then suddenly you have 4,000 people and all those systems break down.
3) He wears a bandana under his hard hat
After getting mugged one too many times, Musk resorted to wearing a bandana under his hard hat as a means of avoiding being recognized as an easy target. After his employees complained about wearing bandanas in their workplaces, however, he had to remove it. He joked that he did not understand why people wear jewellery and fancy clothes when going out to work at construction sites – They should be dressed like builders! Fun facts about Elon Musk #1: The 15th richest person in America started out as a broke graduate student (with $2,000 in savings).
4) He started his education in South Africa
At age 17, he moved to Canada. He attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, for one year before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania. It was there that he earned degrees in economics and physics. While at Penn, he also started his first company: Zip2 Corporation.
He has expressed regret for not getting a university degree, stating If I were to start again, I would have focused on one thing, maybe software. That’s where my interest was and still is. But that’s too late now. He can speak seven languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, Korean and Mandarin Chinese.
5) He knows how to code
Did you know that he knows how to code? Musk is quite an interesting guy in general. Did you know that he was raised by his father? After getting divorced, Elon Musk’s parents ended up splitting custody of him. As such, he spent his summers with his father, a doctor in South Africa. When he was 13 years old, Musk taught himself computer programming (on a Commodore VIC-20).
How was he able to do that? Well, because he is extremely smart. During his childhood, he used to practice and learn new languages such as C++ and Python. Since then, it seems like learning how to code has become a big part of his life. As you probably know, with Tesla’s neural network technology computers will soon be capable of learning by themselves (and also gain intelligence). With that in mind, we can certainly say that having knowledge in programming is one of Musk’s greatest assets. He knows how to play video games: This is another fun fact about Elon Musk that most people don’t know about him – he is an avid gamer! Do you remember at one point in time when video games were extremely hard?
6) His views on public speaking
Musk has always been outspoken on his views on public speaking, Public speaking is bloody hard. I don’t think people would think that. He also says that he gets nervous when making speeches, I always get really nervous beforehand, but it never seems to bother me once I’m on stage. Musk also admits that even with all of his good qualities he still lacks confidence in himself and his abilities, For me it’s much easier to do things myself than to trust other people to do them. This makes him a very passionate speaker and a great public performer for SpaceX and Tesla Motors. He likes taking over both companies so he can ensure everything is going according to plan.
7) His favourite book is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Musk was an avid reader as a child and even once said, I wanted to read all the books there were in the world. He also made plans to escape from his local library every Saturday. His favourite book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, inspired Musk’s famous desire to build a rocket that could take him anywhere in the world in less than an hour. He took up acting at school and played the lead role in The Importance of Being Earnest when he was just 17 years old. Musk left South Africa when he was just 17 years old after his father told him that there would be no money for college unless he did well in his upcoming final exams.
8) His favourite game is Zelda (video game series)
This fact might not be so surprising, as Elon Musk has stated in interviews that he is a big fan of video games. In fact, in an interview with SPiRE TV, Musk says his favourite game is Zelda (video game series). The title also inspired him to name one of his SpaceX crafts Falcon 9 after The Legend of Zelda character. The Falcon is a bird and 9 just happens to be Musk’s favourite number! Keep in mind that many SpaceX employees are gamers and they even have Xbox 360s set up at HQ for breaks. Talk about job perks! Although their hours may be long, it’s nice to know workers can relax by playing a video game once in a while.
9) He takes notes in longhand
Musk has an interesting taste in movies. He owns a life-size gold statue of Buster Bluth from Arrested Development, and he offered to lend a Tesla car to James Cameron for use as a prop in Titanic. However, two of his favourite films are The Godfather (1, 2 and 3) and Apocalypse Now. In 2015, he tweeted that he watches them both every year or so on flights to/from Los Angeles and South Africa; it seems that they also provide good background noise while working in his home office. Maybe one day he’ll get to meet Francis Ford Coppola…and maybe you will too!
10) He enjoys The Godfather
If you’re a big fan of The Godfather (film series), you may also be a big fan of Elon Musk. In one tweet, he said that it was his favourite movie: I love reading and watching The Godfather. He even had scenes from it projected at his wedding. Musk is known for being an avid reader and has name-dropped other great books in previous tweets, including Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Greek mythology. He has quoted Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms as well: What counts is not necessarily the size of [one’s] accomplishments but rather their size in relation to one’s aspirations.