There is hardly any public figure that has a divided following in today’s time more than Tesla’s owner and CEO Elon Musk. There is a lesser chance of your week going by without hearing Musk’s name, due to either one of his firms, their mishappenings or his Twitter presence that he likes to appear funny and inspiring on. People who are inspired and motivated by him or his work like to know and live by some Elon Musk quotes that are considered words of wisdom from the billionaire’s mouth.
Meanwhile, there are also a large number of critics who are also very vocal and critical of the businessman, considering him a billionaire who does not care about the planet or the people, but rather his own company’s profits. There’s a slim chance of converting one side towards the other, and it’s not even a matter of converting, more a matter of personal education on complicated issues. This is why this article will provide you with both sides of the Musk following, his supporters and strict opposers, along with his famous quotes.
There is hardly a need to brief you about the “space race” going on between billionaires. The open and public intentions from major business owners to reach Mars and back safely have been polarizing for the general public. Elon Musk is one of the top names among the billionaires who are actively working towards an initial tour and a gradual move to the second-smallest planet in the Solar System.
Others in the space race have had more successes in the previous year, when both Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson traveled into space in their first individual space flights, via Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. Meanwhile, Musk’s SpaceX has sent flights to space, he has refrained from traveling to space himself yet. If you look at most of his tweets or statements about the space race, he talks about it in relation to living on another planet, most commonly Mars, rather than just as a way to travel for recreational purposes.
“I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact.”
“The future of humanity is going to bifurcate in two directions: Either it’s going to become multi-planetary, or it’s going to remain confined to one planet and eventually there’s going to be an extinction event.”
“I think we are at the dawn of a new era in commercial space exploration.”
“There have to be reasons that you get up in the morning and you want to live. Why do you want to live? What’s the point? What inspires you? What do you love about the future? If the future does not include being out there among the stars and being a multi-planet species, I find that incredibly depressing.”
“If humanity doesn’t land on Mars in my lifetime, I would be very disappointed.”
The other side of the coin there is those who oppose the space race, not just Musk’s ambitions but everyone who is involved or aiming for it in the near future. People have largely criticized billionaires and supporters of said billionaires who aspire to reach space and other planets when there is so much that needs to be fixed in the one we are currently living on.
Ecological Economist, Professor of Sustainable Development, and Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) at the University of Surrey, Tim Jackson writes a sharp criticism of the billionaire space race as a twisted idea of growth, perpetrated by capitalism. Jackson talks about how reaching for space or other stars is not a rational way towards growth for economies, but rather a capitalist non-solution that does not address any of the issues, much less the issue of the climate emergency that could be a danger to our civilization.
“Terror management theory tells us that, when mortality becomes “salient”, instead of addressing the underlying fear, we turn for comfort to the things which make us feel good. Capitalism itself is a massive comfort blanket, designed to help us never confront the mortality that awaits us all. So too are the dreams of the rocket men,” writes Jackson for The Conversation, talking about his years in sustainable research, and renewable economies.
The argument about the time, money, and energy being put into leaving our problems behind on this planet and likely ‘colonizing’ another planet are not new or isolated. There are countless names that have advocated for a redirection of our collective goals as the human race. There are however, still many who are in support of or actively want commercial space travel to be pursued. Jackson puts it best for those who believe the earth to be our be-all and end-all in this phrase;
“Its beauty is our beauty. Its fragility is our fragility. And its peril is our peril.”
Love and Relationships
The tech billionaire has been married more than once, even to one woman; actress Talulah Riley, in 2010 and 2013. His love life is not a secret, nor is it small, and he is single once again, or at least not with anyone publicly. He married author Justine Wilson in 2000, had five children with her, and got divorced in 2008 while sharing custody.
In the same year as his divorce, he started dating English actress Talulah Riley and went on to marry her in 2010. The couple sadly fell apart and filed for divorce in 2012. However, the ever romantic Musk and Riley remarried in 2013 only to get divorced once again in 2016. Followed by that, the serial entrepreneur started dating actress Amber Heard, whom he was rumored to be pursuing since 2012.
After they broke up within a year, he started dating singer Grimes, in 2018 and went on to have a baby with her in 2020. Their son was controversially named “X Æ A-12” initially and later changed to “X AE A-XII” Musk because some symbols in the initial name were not acceptable by law, as they were not part of the English language. The couple also separated in 2021, when Musk has remained publicly single, or at least not mentioned if he is dating anyone.
Over several years people have moved from his social or entrepreneurial spirit towards him as a personality in himself, questions or topics that people look up to him for have changed a lot. Since then he has talked to press and hosts openly about how he feels about love and having a companion to go through life with.
“I will never be happy without having someone. Going to sleep alone kills me.”
“If I’m not in love, if I’m not with a long-term companion, I cannot be happy.”
“When I was a child, there’s one thing I said: ‘I never want to be alone.’ That’s what I would say. I don’t want to be alone.”
“I’m looking for a long-term relationship. I’m not looking for a one-night stand. I’m looking for a serious companion or soulmate, that kind of thing.”
All the above quotes are taken from either tweets, interviews or statements he has said during conversations when asked about whether he prefers staying single or if a romantic relationship is something he thinks is important.
Musk has repeatedly on different occasions said and continues to say that he believes in a sustainable future, with renewable energy sources and that the climate crisis is something that needs to be addressed on not just an administrative but also commercial level, where companies think of bringing in products that work towards an environmentally-friendly world.
There is however, another side to this rather “controversial” topic as well. There is evidently a large number of people who still do not believe in the climate crisis, or of the immediate actions we need to take to stop the earth from heading towards a likely catastrophe. Those are the obvious opposers of the types of policies or statements Musk promotes whenever he brings up the carbon footprint and our need to address it.
But there is also another group of individuals who believe Musk’s promotion or uplifting of environmental policies or a shift towards eco-conscious living is not out of genuine intention towards the betterment of the earth, but because his product or company requires it of him, in order to make profits.
“As you heat the planet up, it’s just like boiling a pot.”
“We’re running the most dangerous experiment in history right now, which is to see how much carbon dioxide the atmosphere… can handle before there is an environmental catastrophe.”
“The reality is gas prices should be much more expensive than they are because we’re not incorporating the true damage to the environment and the hidden costs of mining oil and transporting it to the U.S. Whenever you have an unpriced externality, you have a bit of a market failure, to the degree that eternality remains unpriced.”
“I’m anti-tax, but I’m pro-carbon tax.”
The above statement, for example, is largely criticized because Musk is a staunch tax-opposer, and does not believe billionaires should be taxed in order to maintain or bring wealth equity in a nation. But where it looks to be supportive of his firm, because as an “environmentally-friendly” company, Tesla would not have to pay such taxes, he openly accepts and wants it to be implemented. There are many other such contrasting Elon Musk quotes than you would think.
“I really do encourage other manufacturers to bring electric cars to market. It’s a good thing, and they need to bring it to market and keep iterating and improving and make better and better electric cars, and that’s what going to result in humanity achieving a sustainable transport future. I wish it was growing faster than it is.”
The above statement is another example of where half of the viewers see him as a visionary, who does not fear increased competition in the market, the competition that could directly affect his business, but even promotes it for a sustainable commute future. While the other side believes because of his capitalistic views, he can only think of a sustainable future from a business and commercial viewpoint.
This one is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a category that dreamers often like to come back to. There are several different kinds of attitudes people have towards their goals, whether big or small. Some like to take it small, one step at a time, while others always like to shoot for the stars. Some belief in getting inspired by whatever comes their way, while others are more strict and disciplined in their strategies. Read the below Musk quotes on some motivational thoughts he has had.
“People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working.”
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”
“People should pursue what they’re passionate about. That will make them happier than pretty much anything else.”
“To make an embarrassing admission, I like video games. That’s what got me into software engineering when I was a kid. I wanted to make money so I could buy a better computer to play better video games – nothing like saving the world.”
The above bunch of quotes seems haphazard and does not necessarily follow a pattern. It’s because that’s how Musk seems to think of work, passion, getting ahead in your career, and achieving things that you aspire for. He does not shy away from recognizing and looking back to the time when he realized his dream of becoming an engineer.
This is something Musk does not get as many polarizing comments on because his idea of innovation already coincides with a large part of environment-conscious production. This also coincides a little with his ability to think of risks as important aspects of a successful life. He constantly talks about innovation led with research that could improve lives, even if his vision is largely based on a commercial aspect of innovation. This is something people who want to work towards or in an industry that revolves around creative or technical innovation, can get with.
Another thing that Musk’s quotes on innovation are good for is the fact that a majority of them can be applied to any scope or scale of your dreams, goals or projects. Betterment advice is more generic usually too but especially when you look at how Musk views it, it really applies to whatever you view as your personal way to do things better.
“I’m interested in things that change the world or that affect the future and wondrous, new technology where you see it, and you’re like, ‘Wow, how did that even happen? How is that possible?’”
“There’s a silly notion that failure’s not an option at NASA. A failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
“I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”
“If you go back a few hundred years, what we take for granted today would seem like magic – being able to talk to people over long distances, to transmit images, flying, accessing vast amounts of data like an oracle. These are all things that would have been considered magic a few hundred years ago.”
Risk-taking vs Creativity
On a similar note as the one above, because Musk believes in constant innovation and making things better in all ways that they are possible, risks are a huge part of the Musk’s way of doing things. Something that he talks about in tandem with risk-taking is being creative with the risks you take or the ways that you go about it.
“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”
The above quote can be applied to any of your goals because the importance of something is sometimes subjective instead of universal or applicable to anyone. This is why going for it is important for you, even if you don’t have popular support or people opposing your decision to pursue it.
“Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is a disaster.”
“It’s OK to have your eggs in one basket as long as you control what happens to that basket.”
This one above highlights Musk’s ability to view risks with creativity, and what your ambitions can look like even if they are directed towards one thing.
“I had so many people try to talk me out of starting a rocket company, it was crazy.”
“When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars people said, ‘Nah, what’s wrong with a horse?’ That was a huge bet he made, and it worked.”
The last two are clear ways that Musk indicates how he feels about taking risks and how they have served him with regards to his business and goals.
The last heading for this article is, intentionally, contradictions that some of Musk’s quotes bring in contrast to either his decisions or other statements he has said. There is a never-ending list of celebrities and public figures who go back on their words or change their stances after some time on topics, and Musk is no different. However, there are differences between others having contradicting views only, to Musk saying something and doing something else. Let’s look at a couple of examples.
“With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon. You know all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, and he’s like, yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon? Doesn’t work out.”
The above quote would have you believe Musk is very opposed to aggressive or borderline invasive technology that tends to overtake decision-making from humans. However, his current expansion and work into future projects, namely Neuralink, does not really reflect that belief.
Musk is co-founder of Neuralink, a company developing a brain-machine interface (BMI) system, that could give your brain and computer devices around it the ability to communicate automatically. They are initially starting the model for people suffering from paralysis or other disabilities that handicap them, to be able to communicate, create or control gadgets and computerized products around them, giving them a sense of control and independence.
However, if viewed from a critical aspect, that same product implanted in your brain, reading and interpreting your thoughts can be highly invasive and a threat to someone’s confidential matters.
“Government isn’t that good at rapid advancement of technology. It tends to be better at funding basic research. To have things take off, you’ve got to have commercial companies do it.”
Tesla Motors receives billions of dollars in government subsidies, which means the operations, research, and development going on are somewhat funded by the government. Yet quotes like the one above are not just reductive but imply that the government has a lesser or no role in how technology works or moves towards making society better. These are just a few contradictory quotes that Musk has said that contrast with what he does or decisions his companies are involved in, there are many other such instances of contradictions as well.
There are several other articles and lists of quotes you can find by the serial entrepreneur many look up to, but often those are either presenting a one-sided story without context or just lists without any deeper analysis of how that quote translates into actions by him. Hopefully, this Elon Musk quotes article will be a different and educating look for you, leading you towards dissecting and looking at what people say through an analysis lens.