Elon Musk picks out EIGHT books that inspired incredible success

Elon Musk surpasses Bezos as ‘world’s richest person’

The Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur is now worth £136billion, overtaking Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, who has £135billion. Many have noted the stark contrast of Musk and Bezos’ lives compared to millions around the world during the coronavirus pandemic. While workers in most countries have lost their jobs, Musk and Bezos have seen their portfolios grow to astronomical sizes.

Musk is originally from South Africa, having arrived in Canada as a teenager to study.

He went on to found the behemoth payment company PayPal, as well as a series of other tech ventures that have landed him as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in history.

Musk previously shared some of his most inspiring books, picking out his eight favourites.

The first, ‘Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down’ by J.E. Gordon, helped Musk in his desire to learn rocket science.

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While reading advanced texts on physics may not be for everyone, this book offered a lighter take on the science behind SpaceX.

In an interview with KCRW, Musk said: “It is really, really good if you want a primer on structural design.”

Another was Walter Isaacson’s, ‘Benjamin Franklin: An American Life’.

Franklin, the author, inventor, scientist and diplomat, is one of Musk’s heroes.

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Musk is previously quoted as having said: “You can see how [Franklin] was an entrepreneur.

“He was an entrepreneur. He started from nothing. He was just a runaway kid.”

Not surprisingly, Musk has taken inspiration from Albert Einstein, one of the world’s greatest theoretical physicists, and enjoys Walter Isaacson’s ‘Einstein: His Life and Universe’.

Musk Told Kevin Rose, the American entrepreneur, that some of Einstein’s most famous quotes inspired him to lead a different sort of life.


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Quotes like, “The important thing is not to stop questioning,” and, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new,” speak directly to Musk’s vision for his companies.

Considered one of the 21st century’s go-to books for the future of artificial intelligence, it’s unsurprising that one of Musk’s favourites is Nick Bostrom’s ‘Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies’.

The SpaceX man has shared his concerns over the potential threat of AI in the future.

Bostrom offers an antidote to this, with Musk in 2014 tweeting the book is “worth reading”.

‘Merchants of Doubt’ by Erik M. Conway and Naomi Oreskes can also be found on Musk’s bookshelf.

He recommends the argument from historians who believe that scientists with political and corporate connections have purposefully muddied the facts around many public health issues, such as the negative effects of smoking. He posted his recommendation on Twitter in 2013.

A classic in any British school classroom, Musk notes one of his favourite survival guides is ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding.

‘Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future’ by Peter Thiel, based on a class the entrepreneur taught at Stanford University in 2012, focuses on the need for unique thinking among would-be startup founders.

Musk says that his PayPal co-founder’s book offers an interesting exploration of the process of building super successful companies.

Isaac Asimov – one of the big-hitters of science-action – has found a place in Musk’s heart.

He said the author’s ‘Foundation’ trilogy taught him that “civilizations move in cycles,” a lesson that encouraged the entrepreneur to pursue his radical ambitions.

Musk told The Guardian in 2013: “Given that this is the first time in 4.5 billion years where it’s been possible for humanity to extend life beyond Earth, it seems like we’d be wise to act while the window was open and not count on the fact it will be open a long time.”

Meanwhile, in reaction to his becoming one of the world’s richest people, Musk tweeted: “Tesla stock price is too high in my opinion.”

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