Often called the real-life ‘Iron Man’, Elon Musk is certainly a headline-stealing guy.
For one thing, he has a CV that I would pay some serious money for. On it, you can find:
Founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX;
Founder, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla, Inc.;
Chairman of SolarCity; and
Co-Founder of PayPal.
On first sight, it can be an overwhelming amount of information to process and approaching this in an interview may seem daunting. However, as he keeps appearing in the news, and has a strong tie to a lot of technology laws, for example, you should be prepared to be asked about him.
Here is a breakdown of his success story and why you need to keep up-to-date with this guy’s latest antics.
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Musk was interested in programming from a very young age. What was special about him was that he taught himself a great deal and started creating video games at the age of 12 (I could barely use excel at that age, but maybe I was just particularly bad with computers).
Born in South Africa, he attempted to immigrate to the United States when he was 17. At first, he did not get into the States and had to move to Canada, where he worked low-wage roles.
After studying in Canada for a few years, he finally managed to enter the United States. There, he continued studying and received a degree in economics and a degree in physics. Whilst at college, he desired to be involved in things that could change the world and considered renewable energy sources and space colonisation to be among those things.
Building an Empire
To contribute in these fields, he started his first IT company Zip2. However, this was no immediate success! He lived in a warehouse where he also held his office and showered in the locker rooms of a local stadium. In time, he eventually managed to build his company and sell it for a substantial amount of money.
He then started working on electronic payment systems that would later merge with another company and be known henceforth as PayPal. In 2002, eBay bought PayPal for over a billion dollars which gave Musk the funds to finally pursue his other ideas: renewable energy sources and space engineering.
Now finished with investing in the internet business, he got involved with Tesla Motors (manufacturer of electric vehicles), SolarCity (provides solar power systems for homes and businesses) and SpaceX (designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecrafts).
When Tesla headed into serious trouble, Musk fixed it by firing the ones who was responsible for the slow development of the projects and took control of the company himself. This is just one of the key episodes which illustrates why he is such a successful entrepreneur – the ability to make the tough decisions.
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Musk is compared to Marvel superhero Tony Stark as Robert Downey Jr turned to him for inspiration to get into the character in the 2008 film.
It seems it was Musk’s desire to explore technology for technology’s sake, not money, that made him the perfect real-world version of Stark. And who can blame Downey Jr? Musk continues to make headlines as he is a controversial character, and has a similar, some might say egotistical, attitude to Tony Stark.
Whilst I can understand people’s disbelief in some of his latest ideas, like embedding computer chips in our brains that may allow for ‘telepathy’ between people, I am also very aware of the fact that people in the 70s believed that using e-mail as a standard communication device would never happen.
It all sounds like science fiction, but this also makes it immensely entertaining to pay attention to the new updates with Elon Musk. Law is famous for its reluctance to depart from tradition, but the truth is that law firms must keep up with technology to maintain their clients. That is why you need to read up on Elon Musk before your next interview.
Latest Headlines and How to Discuss Them in Interview
So what are the latest controversial headlines Elon Musk has managed to make?
On personal news, he recently falsely branded one of the Thailand cave rescue divers a paedophile. This was after the diver, Vernon Unsworth, claimed that Musk’s offer to help them rescue the boys by providing a submarine were simply a PR stunt.
Apparently, he thought that the submarine had no chance of navigating the passage into the cave. Musk then retaliated by posting a range of tweets about him, calling him a “pedo guy” in one of them. It is obvious that he does not respond well to being undermined by others.
This brings into the spotlight questions around libel, especially as Unsworth has considered taking legal action against Musk for his comments. Complications would arise as the US Speech Act disallows any sort of libel cases from outside of the States to be enforced in the US. It’s worth candidates exploring potential other options and whether or not a libel case could occur.
In terms of business, he has been making headlines with his promise not to make any lethal autonomous weapons. This comment was made after there has been growing concern about a possible race to create “killer robots”.
The issue here is that whilst Musk and other AI researches have more innocent motivations behind the creations, their tech may be used by others who wish to use it on the battlefield.
This is interesting to bring up at an interview because several experts and leading academics ask that the government should do more to regulate and create legislation surrounding the use of autonomous killing machines. Again, this may sound like science fiction. Leaving this area unregulated by law until such weapons become available may however be too risky.
And if you are feeling a bit worried about the future from now, let me leave you with a quote from the man himself:
“If anyone thinks they’d rather be in a different part of history, they’re probably not a very good student of history. Life sucked in the old days. People knew very little, and you were likely to die at a young age of some horrible disease. You’d probably have no teeth by now.”
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