My Four Heroes
"It's hard to necessarily pick a few."
Elon Musk is an engineer, entrepreneur and philanthropist of best known for co-founding PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors.
He is currently the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors and Chairman of SolarCity. Musk is best known for having created the first viable production electric car of the modern era (Tesla Roadster), for designing a private successor to the Space Shuttle (F9/Dragon) and creating the world's largest Internet payment system (PayPal).
Musk left home in 1988 at the age of 17, without his parents' support, and in part because of the prospect of compulsory service in the South African military during Apartheid.
Musk sold his first company, Zip2, for more than $300 million to AltaVIsta in 1999 and used that money to start the company that would become PayPal. When eBay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion a couple years later, Musk embarked on a couple of big, bold projects: SpaceX (commercial space flight) and Tesla Motors (electric vehicles).
In terms of how inventors in history influenced me, there's so many that it's hard to necessarily pick a few, but certainly Edison and Tesla would be good examples. They're each great men in their own right. In the case of Edison, he was much more of a trial and error kind of guy, but willing to try all sorts of things. And I think he was quite pragmatic and sensible.
Tesla was the archetypal crazy genius who could design amazingly complicated things in his head. He really understood the theory and applied the scientific method very well. So he was less of a sort of a trial-and-error guy, and more about theory and experiment. But then he wasn't as good in terms of being practical and sensible.
Those two certainly have inspired me in a lot of ways. And then there's many other people in history as well. Winston Churchill was one of my heroes as well as Darwin, who was an amazing writer. Everyone should read The Origin of Species. It's really, really good.
60 Second Reads is recorded in Big Think's studio.