On the 6th of September 2018 we had the chance to hear Elon Musk talking on Joe Rogan’s podcast. This interview was all over the news after Musk smoked weed making Tesla’s stocks lose 5% of their value overnight, but leaving the controversies aside, we had the chance to see one of the brightest minds of our lifetime sharing his thoughts about different topics in a very personal way for more than 2 hours uncut. In the podcast we could hear him and Rogan discussing Artificial Intelligence, solving big city traffic, improving cities’ livability, improving planes’ functionality, what is it like to be a genius, and how he manages to run Tesla, Space X and The Boring Company at the same time.
In my opinion the interview was priceless. We were able to see a much more personal Musk than we are used to, and this is Elon Musk we are talking about - the Thomas Edison of our generation. What I personally found most interesting about the full interview was how he discussed solving L.A. traffic, and the way he started doing it. In the way he discussed it you could tell he is one of the few people that are actually doers and not just thinkers.
The premise of his strategy to solve traffic is that on the surface of the city the density is too high - we have people, buildings, all sort of amenities and cars. We are bound to have traffic congestions no matter what. However, if we stop thinking in a 2D way and think in a 3D way, we could solve this problem. We could do this either by digging tunnels (going 3D down) or with flying cars (going 3D up). So the idea is simple, we just need to dig a massive net of tunnels underground and move through them so we firstly solve traffic issues and secondly leave the surface free of roads and cars, gaining an enormous amount of space for the city life.
Now, why did I say Elon is a doer and not a thinker? For most of us building a huge network of tunnels under a city may seem like something too big to be done. When most people have a big idea they will get overwhelmed by all the effort and time it will take to see it flourish, but Elon is not an ordinary man. So what was his response to this? “Well, we started off by digging a hole in the ground, we got a permit for a pit and dug a big pit in our parking lot”. Elon didn’t think of how difficult it was going to be to build a tunnel, he didn’t think of the incredible amount of paperwork he would need to do either. He had a goal in mind, he thought of the first step to get to that goal, and he did it.
But what can we learn from this? As obvious as it seems, the first step to getting something done is doing something. Most people tend to dwell on the “ifs”, see the possible negative outcomes, and build excuses in their minds. Elon, just like other high achievers, does not self-sabotage with off-putting thoughts and instead finds a way to get things done.
“A hole on the ground is better than no hole on the ground” Elon musk
So what about you? Do you want to write a book? Get some time in front of a computer and type in the first word. Have you always wanted to learn how to play the guitar? Buy one. Always wanted to learn how to draw? Get a pen and a piece of paper. You will not write a book or become Picasso overnight, but one thing is clear, if you ever want to make a tunnel you will need to start digging at some point.
You can hear them discussing L.A. traffic at 4:12 and talking about the pit at 6:55.
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Click here to buy Elon Musk, by Ashlee Vance.
Thanks for your time and remember, keep growing :)