Recently watched an excellent Interview (link at the end) of @Elon Musk by @Lex Friedman. ​ And as Lex rightly pointed out in his opening remarks, Elon is someone who has given hope back to humanity in a bunch of different ways. Even more so in these tough times. ​ I also noticed that, Elon has a few key ideas that he often talks about in most of these enriching conversations. ​ Attempting to take a quick look at some of them in here. ​

Orders of Magnitude

​ Simply means, in powers of 10. An order of magnitude is 10X times and two orders of magnitude is 100X and so on… ​ Elon says, a new product or service has to be much better, by orders of magnitude for the consumer to switch from incumbents or its not enough incentive to switch. ​

On Balance

​ All things considered. Most things in life are neither completely good nor bad. There are shades of gray to almost everything. ​ One needs to decide how much gray one is okay with to take action or make decisions. ​ Musk’s individual carbon emissions might be higher than most ordinary individuals but his contribution to sustainable energy future more than offsets for this on balance. ​

Eating Glass and Staring Into the Abyss

​ This is how he says, a friend of his describes starting a company feels like. ​ Elon’s advice was, β€œIf you need inspiring words don’t do it.” ​

Thinking in the Limits

​ This is about looking at the extremes. From the atom to the universe lets say. Do things behave or work out differently in very small numbers or very large ones? ​ Also, things like when a product is manufactured in large numbers does it cost less due to economies of scale etc. ​ Interestingly, he said a Govt. is a corporation in the limit with a monopoly on violence. ​

Money πŸ’°πŸ’΅

​ Elon surely is uniquely qualified than most of us to talk about money being the richest man and all that. Also because of his work with PayPal. ​ Money is not valuable in and of itself. It serves as a means to allocate labor. ​ Its an entry in a database, with mainframes that run COBOL and central banks having editing permissions to the DB. ​

Area under the curve

​ Area under the Curve = ∫ab f(x)dx ​ Elon’s life and work is classic example of the utility optimization function going full throttle. ​ If one can create a product or service that brings happiness or improves the quality of life of a large number of people in some small way or has a huge positive impact on a small number of people, its success is highly probable. ​

Rate of Innovation

​ In the long run, the survival and then growth of a company is determined primarily by its rate of innovation. ​ This is important even for our individual careers, the degree to which we stay relevant is determined by the extent of our learning, unlearning and relearning. ​

Fundamental Breakthrough or Holy Grail

​ Elon is known to correctly identify and relentlessly pursue fundamental breakthroughs in his chosen areas. ​ When it comes creating a self-sustaining civilization on mars, the key was to have fully and rapidly reusable rockets. ​ When it comes to autonomous cars it was solving for computer vision and so on. ​ Link to the interview