I read Walter Isaacson’s new book Elon Musk for two primary reasons. First, to see what we can learn about Musk’s leadership, and second, because I had enjoyed the author’s book Steve Jobs. At the time of the book’s release, Musk was amazingly running six companies: Tesla, SpaceX and its Starlink unit, Twitter (now X), The Boring Company, Neuralink, and X.AI. One of Musk’s primary goals is to colonize Mars, so humans can survive if and when Earth becomes uninhabitable due to climate change. He is also striving for “Full Self-Driving” vehicles, which he promises will revolutionize the world. Isaacson tells us that a core question about Musk is whether his bad behavior can be separated from the all-in drive that has made him successful.
The book discusses Musk having Asperger’s, a common name for a form of autism-spectrum disorder that can affect a person’s social skills, relationships, emotional connectivity, and self-regulation. Regarding Musk’s leadership, his innovation, vision, and results are to be admired – his people skills not so much. How much of the latter is due to his Asperger’s is hard to tell. In some ways, his leadership reminded me of that of Steve Jobs. Continue reading