If you get up in the morning and think
the future is going to be better, it is a
bright day. Otherwise, it's not.
I'm interested in things that change the
world or that affect the future and wondrous, new technology where you
see it, and you're like, 'Wow, how did that even happen? How is that
Disruptive technology where you really
have a big technology discontinuity... tends to come from new companies.
When somebody has a breakthrough
innovation, it is rarely one little thing. Very rarely, is it one little
thing. It's usually a whole bunch of things that collectively amount to
a huge innovation.
I think we have a duty to maintain the
light of consciousness to make sure it continues into the future.
If you're trying to create a company, it's
like baking a cake. You have to have all the ingredients in the right
There are really two things that have to
occur in order for a new technology to be affordable to the mass market.
One is you need economies of scale. The other is you need to
iterate on the
design. You need to go through a few versions.
Starting and growing a business is as much
about the innovation, drive, and determination of the people behind it
as the product they sell.
Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass
and staring into the abyss of death.
I always invest my own money in the
companies that I create. I don't believe in the whole thing of just
using other people's money. I don't think that's right. I'm not going to
ask other people to invest in something if I'm not prepared to do so
I think the best way to attract venture
capital is to try and come up with a demonstration of whatever product
or service it is and ideally take that as far as you can. Just see if
you can sell that to real customers and start generating some momentum.
The further along you can get with that, the more likely you are to get
When something is important enough, you do
it even if the odds are not in your favor.
Some people don't like change, but you
need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.
I think it's very important to have a
feedback loop, where you're constantly thinking about what you've done
and how you could be doing it better.
Really pay attention to negative feedback and solicit it, particularly
from friends. ... Hardly anyone does that, and it's incredibly helpful.
Don't delude yourself into thinking something's working when it's not,
or you're gonna get fixated on a bad solution.
I say something, and then it usually happens. Maybe not on schedule, but
it usually happens.
You have to say, 'Well, why did it succeed
where others did not?'
The path to the CEO's office should not be
through the CFO's office, and it should not be through the marketing
department. It needs to be through engineering and design.
I don't spend my time pontificating about
high-concept things; I spend my time solving engineering and
If you're co-founder or CEO, you have to
do all kinds of tasks you might not want to do... If you don't do your
chores, the company won't succeed... No task is too menial.
Brand is just a perception, and perception
will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it
will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have
about a product.
I don't think it's a good idea to plan to
sell a company.
It is a mistake to hire huge numbers of
people to get a complicated job done. Numbers will never compensate for
talent in getting the right answer (two people who don't know something
are no better than one), will tend to slow down progress, and will make
the task incredibly expensive.
A company is a group organized to create a
product or service, and it is only as good as its people and how excited
they are about creating.
I do think there is a lot of potential if
you have a compelling product and people are willing to pay a premium
for that. I think that is what
Apple has shown. You can buy a much cheaper cell phone or laptop,
but Apple's product is so much better than the alternative, and people
are willing to pay that premium.
People work better when they know what the
goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to
work in the morning and enjoy working.
It's very important to like the people you
work with, otherwise life and your job is gonna be quite miserable.
We have a strict 'no-assholes policy' at
I don't believe in process. In fact, when
I interview a potential employee and he or she says that 'it's all about
the process,' I see that as a bad sign. The problem is that at a lot of
big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking. You're
encouraged to behave like a little gear in a complex machine. Frankly,
it allows you to keep people who aren't that smart, who aren't that
Talent is extremely important. It's like a
sports team, the team that has the best individual player will often
win, but then there's a multiplier from how those players work together
and the strategy they employ.
My biggest mistake is probably weighing
too much on someone's talent and not someone's personality. I think it
matters whether someone has a good heart.
As much as possible, avoid hiring MBAs.
MBA programs don't teach people how to create companies.
I don't create companies for the sake of
creating companies, but to get things done.
There's a tremendous bias against taking
risks. Everyone is trying to optimize their ass-covering.
When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars,
people said, 'Nah, what's wrong with a horse?' That was a huge bet he
made, and it worked.
If something has to be designed and
invented, and you have to figure out how to ensure that the value of the
thing you create is greater than the cost of the inputs, then that is
probably my core skill.
I always have optimism, but I'm realistic.
It was not with the expectation of great success that I started Tesla or
SpaceX... It's just that I thought they were important enough to do
I wouldn't say I have a lack of fear. In
fact, I'd like my fear emotion to be less because it's very distracting
and fries my nervous system.
I've actually not read any books on time
I would just question things... It would
infuriate my parents... That I wouldn't just believe them when they said
something 'cause I'd ask them why. And then I'd consider whether that
response made sense given everything else I knew.