The man who’s too busy trying to solve the world’s problems likely deserves a vacation. Yes, Yet the number of times Elon Musk has kicked up his feet during his entire adult life can pretty much be counted on one hand. Here’s what he said in an interview with the Danish television network in 2015.
In the last 12 years, I’ve only tried to take a week off twice. And when he has tried to go on vacation it hasn’t always worked out. While on his honeymoon with his first wife Justine to catch the 2000 Olympics, he got some bad news as soon as they landed at Sydney airport. The board of X.com, the precursor to PayPal, had decided to fire him as CEO replacing him with Peter Thiel. So much for the honeymoon.
He flew back to Palo Alto, California to fight to get his job back, to no avail. He tried to go on his honeymoon again three months later. This time he nearly lost his life. While at a game reserve in his native South Africa, Musk contracted the deadliest form of malaria and didn’t even know it. When he returned to the U.S. and fell ill, doctors misdiagnosed him and he nearly died. By sheer luck, a visiting doctor who happened to have experience with malaria cases saw his blood work, suspected he had malaria, and immediately ordered antibiotics.
Musk got the treatment just in time. As Ashlee Vance details in his book about the entrepreneur, the doctor told Musk that if he had turned up a day later, the medicine likely would no longer have been effective. Musk later told Vance, “…that’s my lesson for taking a vacation. Vacations will kill you.”
He spent 10 days in the intensive care unit and took six months to recover, losing 45 pounds. And the curse continued. When he took a week off in October 2014, an unmanned Orbital Sciences Corporation rocket exploded seconds after liftoff. It was supposed to carry food, water, and supplies to the International Space Station. It wasn’t his own rocket but it was perhaps a sign of things to come. And sure enough, the next time he tried to take vacation his SpaceX rocket exploded. The lesson here is: don’t take a week off. And Musk has pretty much lived up to that promise with few exceptions.
He claims he doesn’t have time to slow down – not even on his birthday. When he turned 47, he was hard at work at Tesla’s factory. In fact, he stayed there all night. In a previous video, I talked about how he’s been known to sleep at work. That year in particular – 2018 – was excruciatingly painful. He put in 120-hour workweeks as the electric automaker struggled to mass-produce its most affordable vehicle yet, the model 3. Taking time off as his employees sweated on the factory floor was out of the question, explaining to CBS: I don’t believe people should be experiencing hardship while the CEO is, like, off on vacation. Tesla got over that painful period but Musk isn’t slowing down as he juggles several companies. He recently revealed that his brain-machine interface startup Neuralink implanted a chip inside a monkey’s brain that he says allowed it to control a video game with its mind.
The Boring Company opened new offices in Texas as its tunnel projects expand. A day in the life of Elon Musk involves back to back to back meetings – and not casual ones as he recently explained on the new social media app Clubhouse: My days are like insane torrents of information. The meetings that are scheduled are not, like, nice to have meetings. They’re, like, ‘this meeting is essential’. It’s pretty intense. And eventually, they take their toll.
Musk has occasionally shown his vulnerable side. Creating a company is almost like having a child. So it’s sort of like, how do you say your child should not have food? So once you have the company, you have to feed it and nurse it and take care of it, even if it ruins you? Yeah. The work is painful but is perhaps the cost of success. When someone on the question-and-answer website Quora asked how they could be like Elon Musk, an unlikely person responded.
His ex-wife Justine was married to him for eight years and had a front-row seat inside the life and mind of one of the most successful people in the world. She wrote: “Extreme success…comes at the cost of many other things. Happiness is more or less beside the point.” And the essential ingredient for extreme success is to “be obsessed be obsessed be obsessed.” In this case, nothing less than transitioning the world to sustainable energy and building civilizations in space. If we are able to increase the rate of innovation then life can become multi-planetary. This is the goal we should strive for. While Musk is reluctant to take time off, many other successful people make it a point to get away.
Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Group, has been known to relax on his private Caribbean island. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings swears by six weeks off every year, saying he often does his best thinking when he’s hiking in a mountain somewhere. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Musk takes even one week off let alone six though at the rate he’s going, he admits it might be high time for some me-time. I was thinking, like, ‘man how long can I keep this up?’ I don’t want my brain to explode. I was thinking, like, maybe I should, like, at some point, like, take a week off or something. Clear my mind. That won’t involve lounging around at the beach, however, which he once said will leave him super-duper bored.
More like walking outside of a flying plane which he did in England in 2015 with his second wife Talulah Riley. If and when he does decide to finally take a real vacation again it might just be aboard a certain Starship on a journey out of this world. That would be an extended vacation because the trip to Mars would take about six months each way. Musk recently said he’s “highly confident” people can visit the red planet as early as 2026 though his timelines do tend to change.
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