"If we can solve sustainable energy and be well on our way to becoming an multi-planetary species with a self sustaining civilisation on another planet, to cope with a worst case scenario happening and extinguishing human consciousness then .... I think that would be really good"

That is some thought to have bouncing around inside your head, for a lot of people as far as it goes is trying to decide what to have for dinner later. That quote however, goes some way to show the grandiose level of expectation that Elon Musk has for himself.

This is my review of ‘Elon Musk, How the billionaire CEO of Spacex and Tesla is shaping our future’ by Ashlee Vance.

Just in way of a disclaimer I should put it out there that I am a big fan of Elon Musk, I think most people would be hard pressed to take fault with his contributions to making the world a better place. It’s hard to deny that we seem to be on a path to near certain impending doom in terms of running out of finite fossil fuels and traditional methods of transport, energy use and consumption and exploration. Elon seems like the most likely candidate to provide meaningful long term alternatives.

By now most people are aware of Elon Musk in some capacity, usually as ‘that guy behind Tesla’ or for his work at ‘Spacex’. However Vance, does a fantastic job of delivering a more intimate look into the background of not only Elon’s personal life, but that of his now high profile businesses as well. It’s easy now to look at the perceived success of both Tesla and Spacex and forget the fact that for a number of years, both companies were not only ridiculed in their respective industries but months away from bankruptcy, had it not been for the personal drive of Elon and his unfathomably high goals then it’s not a stretch to think that both could have ended up in the Silicon Valley graveyard of over funded tech companies.

"Nicer than Jobs and a bit more refined than Bill Gates"

Vance sheds some light into Elon’s difficult upbringing in South Africa and subsequent move firstly to Canada (on his own) as a teenager and then to the United States. It was also interesting to get a look into Elon’s family and the interesting lives that they led. From there we follow Elon’s navigation of the working world and his companies, learning about his journeys through his first company Zip2 then Paypal and eventually Tesla, Spacex and Solar City.

Vance does a great job of displaying Elon’s personal growth through a combination of out of this world highs, beyond crushing lows, power struggles within his companies and wrestling with his personal growth from wannabee CEO to the real deal. It would have been easy for the book to take a firm pro Elon stance but that’s not the case and it goes into detail around peoples opinions on him, what he is like to work with and documents his personal growth.

Musk has already taken risks with his companies and personal wealth that on the outside are well beyond what you would classify as borderline insanity, but that just reinforces how committed he is to his goals of ultimately getting people to Mars, which in itself is commendable to even set as a marker. It seems that there may well be no stopping him in his quest and if you do chose to read the book you will understand why.

To Summarise, We Highly Recommend

Who should read this book? Well, anyone really. If you have an interest in business, then 100%. If you have an interest in technology, then 100%. Even if you want to read a story of unrelenting will and triumph in the face of monumental adversity, then 100%.

Elon could have chosen to flog phones, continued to dominate online banking or pretty much anything else in reality yet here we are. The best selling electric cars and certainly the most likely to cut our cord to fossil fuels (especially since open sourcing the Tesla software). Drastically reducing the cost of launching rockets and capsules to space and is certainly the leading candidate to send the next person to set foot somewhere other than earth, the last being 1969!

If you do decide to give it a read, and you should, drop us a comment below to let us know what you thought.

Liked our Elon Musk Book Review? Take a look at some of our other posts.