Like Steve Jobs before him, Elon Musk is known to project a reality distortion field.
Early Apple employee Bud Tribble coined the term back in the early 1980s.
It’s like something out of “Star Trek.”
“In [Job’s] presence, reality is malleable,” Tribble told his colleague Andy Hertzfield. “He can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when he’s not around, but it makes it hard to have realistic schedules.”
Musk, the SpaceX and Tesla CEO who is often called the next Jobs, is said to have a similar presence.
“Diamonds are created under pressure, and Elon Musk is a master diamond maker,” Dolly Singh, former head of talent acquisition for SpaceX, told Business Insider earlier this year.
SpaceX and Tesla are built to be companies that “advance the course of human history” — which requires effort beyond other workplaces. Thus the tagline on SpaceX job postings: SpaceX is like Special Forces, we take on missions that others have deemed impossible.
So as you might imagine, working for Musk can be a rather intense experience.
“Elon’s version of reality is highly skewed,” said an anonymous Quora user claiming to be a SpaceX engineer.
“If you believe that a task should take a year then Elon wants it done in a week,” the user said. “He won’t hesitate to throw out six months of work because it’s not pretty enough or it’s not ‘badass’ enough. But in so doing he doesn’t change the schedule.”
If it sounds delusional, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Research shows that entrepreneurs have unrealistically high levels of confidence, otherwise they’d never get into business in the first place. As Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has said, “A lot of progress in the world is driven by the delusional optimism of some people.”
How else can you make humanity an interplanetary species?
“This may sound harsh,” Singh said, “but you don’t get to Mars … with a bunch of softies.”
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