TED’s Chris Anderson on What Makes Elon Musk the Most Remarkable Entrepreneur Alive

Entrepreneur
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk exudes confidence and know-how, both essential elements of good entrepreneurship. But according to TED's Chris Anderson, what sets Musk apart from the rest is the massive respect he has for the science behind his investments.
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TRANSCRIPT

Chris Anderson: Two years ago at TED I had the great joy of interviewing Elon Musk, who by common consent is probably the world's most remarkable entrepreneur right now, the world's most remarkable living entrepreneur. What he's done in terms of the space industry, the future of electric cars, the future of solar power, are truly remarkable, and then side projects like Hyperloop and so forth.

I asked Elon what his secret was, and he first refused to answer because I think he almost - there's a modesty there and part of him actually genuinely doesn't know. Again, it's the curse of knowledge. He's Elon; he doesn't know why everyone else is different. But when pushed what he said was, you start with physics. You take physics seriously. 

So this is a guy who is so confident in the efficacy of science that he will risk his entire fortune on the belief that he can build a business that taps into the power of that physics. So with SpaceX without having a winning design for a rocket, he starts this company, invests tens of millions of dollars believing that physics demands that the cost of sending stuff up into orbit has to be a lot lower than NASA was currently paying. It had to be because NASA was paying 99 times the cost of the actual ingredients that were being sent to space.

That confidence is just amazing to me. And the fact that he can go from there to building out and mapping out in his mind a very complicated future that incorporates elements of engineering, of physics, of business, of human psychology, of consumer demand, weave it together and confidently go for it in a particular direction, that's amazing. There are very few minds that can do it that way. So he's certainly someone I have a lot of respect for.