Top 5 tips on how to work like Elon Musk and be that ‘model employee’

Tesla has recently come under scrutiny after the company fired 400 to 700 employees over poor performance reviews. The company issued the following statement in regards to the firing:

Like all companies, Tesla conducts an annual performance review during which a manager and employee discuss the results that were achieved, as well as how those results were achieved, during the performance period. This includes both constructive feedback and recognition of top performers with additional compensation and equity awards, as well as promotions in many cases. As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures. Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world.

But amid accusations from former employees who allege that the recent firing was a layoff in disguise, one might question the true motive behind Tesla’s recent departures. A look at the company’s Glassdoor profile reveals that 88% of employees approve of CEO Elon Musk, suggesting that the serial entrepreneur’s vision for the future and execution strategy has largely gained acceptance among his legion of workers. Still, cries of tough work-life balance, long hours, and a CEO that’s widely known to be difficult to please, scatter into the mix of 1200-plus company reviews.

One can argue that being able to meet Musk’s standards for employee quality might come down to one’s work ethics and their ability to be a vector that has significant weight in the ‘sum of all vectors’.

“Every person in your company is a vector. Your progress is determined by the sum of all vectors.” – Elon Musk

Here are 5 tips on how Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company, Neuralink, among other side projects, is able to maintain productivity each day and achieve his level of success.

1. Work twice as hard as others, but also sleep

The first ‘tip’ doesn’t come as much of a surprise. It’s the unrelenting determination that allows one to work as much as Elon Musk does.

“Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80 to 100 hour weeks every week. [This] improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40 hour work weeks and you’re putting in 100 hour work weeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing you know that… you will achieve in 4 months what it takes them a year to achieve.” -Elon Musk

Having worked the 100-hour long work weeks in the past that were augmented by cans of Diet Coke and several large cups of coffee each day, Musk also  realized that getting enough sleep is also a must. The serial tech entrepreneur has revealed in the past that he sleeps at 1 a.m. and up at 7 a.m each day.

When asked about his quantity of sleep each night, Musk responded on a reddit AMA that he sleeps an average of 6 hours.

2. Learn new skills

Musk is constantly looking at new ways to self-improve and keep ideas fresh while soliciting truthful feedback from people he’s close with.

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself,”

3. Schedule everything, and don’t meet just to meet

Elon Musk is notorious for his famously efficient meetings. Beyond scheduling activities into 5-minute time slots, Musk believes that people must provide value in the time that they’re allotted for a particular task.

A former SpaceX employee relayed a story where Elon Musk once questioned an employee’s attendance in a meeting.

“One of my close friends started there a couple years before me. He worked (and still does) in an analysis group, so meetings made less sense when you could just walk over and ask someone a question. He told me a story one time (this is paraphrased):

Elon to a meeting member: “You haven’t said anything. Why are you in here?

That may be borderline rude, but it makes sense. Don’t be in a meeting unless there’s a purpose for it; either to make a decision, or get people up to speed. In most cases, an email will suffice.”

With engineers and management being paid between $80-100 per hour, having a group of them inside a meeting means that the company is burning a relatively expensive clock.

4. Be open to negative criticism

More often than not, people instinctively signal their defense mechanism when faced with negative feedback. But Musk believes that self improvement comes with being open to constructive criticism.

“I think it’s important for people to pay close attention to negative feedback and rather than ignore negative feedback, you have to listen to it carefully.

Ignore it if the underlying reason for the negative feedback doesn’t make sense but otherwise, people should adjust their behavior.

I’m not perfect at it, for sure, but I do think it’s really important to solicit negative feedback, particularly from people who have your best interest in mind.”

Listen to Musk describe his approach to self improvement in his interview with TED curator Chris Anderson.


5. Manage your emotions

Being able to overcome adversity requires intense focus, positivity, and the ability to overcome fear by controlling one’s emotions.

“I feel fear quite strongly. But if what I am doing is important enough, then I just override the fear,” Musk said in one of his past interviews.

When faced with seemingly impossible challenges and looming deadlines, Musk believes that optimism and being able to manage one’s emotions will lead to exceptional success and personal growth in one shape or form.

Challenge yourself to think big, take risks, and control your emotions while doing so.

Top 5 tips on how to work like Elon Musk and be that ‘model employee’
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