Roshan Hegde
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Elon-isms

an attempt to understand what Elon often keeps saying

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Roshan Hegde
Ā·Sep 28, 2022Ā·

3 min read

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Table of contents

  • Orders of Magnitude
  • On Balance
  • Eating Glass and Staring Into the Abyss
  • Thinking in the Limits
  • Money šŸ’°šŸ’µ
  • Area under the curve
  • Rate of Innovation
  • Fundamental Breakthrough or Holy Grail

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, ā€œIf you need inspiring words don't do it.ā€

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 šŸ’°šŸ’µ

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 = āˆ«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

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