If you have a high school diploma and are super capable, maybe around 2019 or before or after, you may be able to apply for Elon Musk’s job at Tesla Motors.
Of course more-educated folk would also be welcome to apply, said Musk, and an intense personal interview just posted reveals how he probes job candidates wanting to work for his companies to tell if they are extremely resourceful and gifted.
But this was just one facet of many details revealed in the 34-minute interview with Musk who said he would consider stepping down in 3-4 years, and would at least see through the production of the Model 3 sedan.
“I will never leave Tesla ever, but I may not be the CEO forever,” said Musk in a fairly revealing exploration into his psyche by Auto Bild of Germany.
The interviewers’ techniques were quite different than U.S. media, and started with low-key questions that set the head of Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City to thinking inwardly.
Most of the first five minutes were spent quizzing the billionaire on seeming trivialities like what is in his glass he is drinking – is it water? They then asked about his consumption of diet Coke and coffee, what he eats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Other pressing details included when he gets up, goes to sleep, does he “run through the forest” for exercise, and so on.
But the sit-down talk that begins like a dietician’s interview morphs into a psychoanalysis mixing personal details with business questions pushing Musk to bare his soul in introspection.
And from those softball questions focusing Musk on the subject of himself, the male and female interviewers probing at the five-minute mark shift gears into business – while still keeping it personal – and Musk offers candid views.
Musk said one of his best decisions he ever made in his life – not surprisingly – was coming from South Africa to the U.S. and Silicon Valley.
One of his greatest regrets was that he did not assert himself into the CEO spot at Tesla sooner.
“In retrospect I should have bitten the bullet and been CEO of Tesla from the beginning,” said Musk. “That would have been the smart move.”
While the media focused on a late 2000s battle between Musk and former co-founder Martin Eberhardt, Musk said he could have been CEO from the start, and should have been.
People have accused Musk of revisionist history before, but this is his take today.
Musk said the company failed three times and ran has cash to zero, and it was in part because Tesla was founded on “two false ideas.”
One was that the Lotus Elise chassis could be used to inexpensively launch the electric car and the other was that AC Propulsion’s powertrain could be used.
While the Roadster from 2008-2012 did get started with the Lotus powertrain, Tesla has since gone on to developing its own solutions, and so the originally presumed expeditious route was not the way the company has gone.
But in starting Tesla and SpaceX Musk expected to lose all his money, he said, and in fact did, living on borrowed money for a while.
Just when he was thinking he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown in 2008, NASA called with a massive $1.6-billion contract and infusion of cash for the latter company.
“I love you,” Musk said on the phone to the person from NASA just days before Christmas, and when he thought everyone was gone for the holidays.
Tesla later got an infusion of $465 million federal loans as well, but the interview is not a comprehensive chronological dissertation. Rather, it’s an extemporaneous, somewhat random, nearly bizarre at the beginning look at the man behind Tesla.
In amongst all the big and seemingly minor questions, Musk said he would also like to play a musical instrument, but at this point whistling is one of his better skills. He asked not to show his whistling ability, but divulged he can whistle out Pachelbel’s Canon rather well.
“All these introspective questions are interesting,” said Musk midway through the interview. “I don’t get asked these very often.”
But he appeared happy to comply, saying he cares deeply about the truth.
“If you are going to come up with some solution,” said Musk, “then the truth is really, really important I think.”
Musk answered questions about the Hyperloop too, saying that a look at the route is being assessed, and consideration of doing an LA to Vegas run is also being looked at, as getting permits would be far easier than skirting the main length of California.
He was also asked about Mars. His ideal is to go to Mars, come back to earth. Then perhaps at a ripe older age in his mid 70s, leave earth again, and die on Mars.
“If you can die anywhere,” poses Musk, “why not die on Mars?”