Elon Musk, according to many in the Silicon Valley is perhaps the only true genius going around, one with a mission to save the world. Indeed many missions – “He’s on a mission to Mars. He’s on a mission to save humanity from its reliance on fossil fuels, which could destroy the planet and kill us all. He’s on a mission to save us from artificial intelligence algorithms going rogue and machines ending human life as we know it…A mission to transport people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in giant air tubes…A mission to build ventilators for hamstrung hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic…To dig tunnels underground to alleviate the fatuous cycle of traffic jams..…All of these missions are completely possible in the realm of physics and science, especially with Elon Musk’s brain working to solve these problems.”
But genius has another side. The summer of 2018, often referred to in Musk’s case as the Summer of 420 (referring to his infamous ‘take Tesla private at $420’ tweet which got him into trouble with the SEC) turned out to be a disastrous summer financially as well as PR wise (he famously got drunk and smoked pot on screen in a talk show).
However, 2020, a year that has been forgettable for most humans on the planet has been a year of remarkable turnarounds for Elon Musk making him the third richest person on the planet along the way.
“Musk successfully launched two astronauts into orbit from the United States (the first in almost a decade), Tesla became the most valuable car company on the planet in July, and Musk is working toward implanting chips into people’s brains. Tesla also seemed poised to be inducted into the S&P 500… When I started reporting this story earlier this summer, Musk was worth half of what he is today, and while he’s disliked by the left, he is still idolized among the technorati.”
So what changed? The article seems to suggest a change in Musk’s attitude towards what people thought of him. He stopped caring.
“..Musk is not alone among tech titans in this character trait. “All of these guys, I’ve spent time with them, Musk, Zuck, all of them; they all exhibit tendencies of total and complete pathological sociopathy. They don’t at their core give a flying fuck about you or me as individuals.”
They do, however, all seem to give a shit what people think of them. Usually, when the tides of praise turn against someone of such stature, they hire consultants, lobbyists, and public relations firms to get them puff pieces in national news outlets, or they agree to give talks at major tech conferences, as long as the questions are little bitty softballs. Most of these CEOs and tech leaders are so obsessed with their image that they employ armies of communications experts, who help craft their brilliance for all to see.
Yet, after the Summer of 420, Musk has taken on a completely different approach. One that is unlike anyone else at his level, and one that, some argue, is working out better than he ever could have imagined.
Musk went to Twitter and started blocking many of the reporters who had covered the trial or who covered his companies….A move that no other CEO of a Fortune 500 company is known to have made….he decided he was done being nice to anyone else who didn’t agree with him. He had spent his entire career trying to pretend he gave a shit about what people thought of him, and he was done. He soon parted ways with a public relations firm he worked with, he didn’t fill positions in his communications division when people left, and, as this person said, “Elon is his own communications director now.” When reached for comment on this article, he responded, “Vanity Fair sucks,” attributing the quote very clearly to himself.”
The article ends by saying you cannot ignore the other side of genius:
“Humans are capable of great things. Every once in a while, a human comes along and propels us forward by leaps and bounds. A human like Musk. But, at the same time, those humans are imperfect, even if we don’t want them to be. “They are flawed. They are not perfect. They are absolute extremes of themselves,” explained one of Musk’s former executives. If we end up on Mars, Musk will be there too, and he will bring his extremes with him. People will still disagree with each other. They will still argue about the way that world should be.”
…One former employee told me that once, this person asked Musk if he ever worried about losing his mind. Musk replied: “Does a crazy person ever look in the mirror and know that he’s crazy?””
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