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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Mar 14 2020
I grew up in a small town in the middle of the United States in Kentucky, where I didn't grow up with very much money. So my parents were divorced when I was very young, and I grew up to about the same size I am now really young. So I was pretty tall when I was young, and I had two older brothers, and I was a pretty good athlete. People kind of naturally looked up to me as an athlete which made me feel like a leader. And then as I got older, I played a lot of basketball. When I was in high school, everybody had grown up and caught up with me, especially the best basketball players, and I was no longer one of the best basketball players. But I still liked leadership, so I started focusing on leadership and student government leadership inside school outside school. At some point in those high school years, I decided I wanted to make a living and career being in leadership situations and I wanted to choose businesses as the best place to do that. And, from there I went to college in a small school. I majored in English literature. Even though I was better at math. That's why I did it, then I went on to become an accountant for a couple of years. Four years, actually went back to business school at Harvard. And then I got out and went into General Manager jobs. A series of them till I became CEO which I am today. 
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What are the responsibilities and decisions that you handle at work? Discuss weekly hours you spend in the office, for work travel, and working from home.

Based on experience at: CEO, Logitech
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Mar 14 2020
I tend to be involved in a very wide range of decisions because when you're the CEO of a public company, especially a medium-sized public company, you end up involved in everything. So I'm involved in decisions on which jobs to give people. What people to hire, What products and businesses were going to be in and what strategies or choices we're gonna make to try and succeed in those businesses. I'm very involved in the creation of products themselves. And I love design. So I'm involved in some design things. In terms of weekly hours. I work. I tend to work. I don't see much difference between work and not work. I love work, and I love a lot of things, though, so I play a lot of basketball. I love my family. I love my friends. I'd like to go out to dinner, and I love my job, and so I don't distinguish much, so I tend to work it all kinds of different hours. But I also tend to play in all kinds of different hours, and today I feel like I'm playing in the office here, so if you look officially it when I'm technically probably in the office, I get in about somewhere between 7:30 and 8:30 and I usually leave by about 6 30 but I still sometimes I'm working before that, sometimes working after that and I work on some of the weekends, too.

What are the job titles of people you routinely work with inside and outside of your organization? What approaches do you find to be effective in working with them?

Based on experience at: CEO, Logitech
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Mar 14 2020
I tend to work with the people who run the organization. For example, the Chief Financial Officer, the person responsible for the reports to me, who's responsible for making sure we know where we are financially and what we're gonna do to deliver our goals. So I'm, also working with the Chief People Officer, the person who's responsible for understanding our culture and how we keep moving it in the right direction, making it better and better. I work with the Head of Design, I work of lots of general managers who are creating new products with their teams, and also some are bringing products to market or getting things made. So I work with a very wide range of things, everything you could think of to create a business. What I found to be effective in working with them is that the most important thing is to hire great people and give them as little oversight is possible and let them work. I always say, If I do this right, the company runs itself. I don't run the company. So people who work for me are usually very good because if they weren't, I wouldn't be able to perform because I have a lot of people reporting to me. I have 22 people reporting to me, so I need to have really good people. And I do have really good people. So one thing I do is to try to leave people alone as much as I can, but have a very close understanding of what their view of their goals are and how they aligned with company goals. The second is I'm very candid, so I never hold back. When I think about something, I know I'm not always right and I make that clear. But at least that needs to be challenged. We all need to be challenged, including me on a regular basis. And I asked them to challenge me too, which makes it a two-way street. And they're quite good at that. Most of them. Those are the two things I do and then I care about people. I ask about their families and I don't go out to dinner with them and take up their free time. But I really do care about them. I care about their lives. And so those are the three things I do to make me effective with them.

What major challenges do you face in your job and how do you handle them? Can you discuss a few accomplishments?

Based on experience at: CEO, Logitech
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Mar 14 2020
I face a very wide range of challenges today. You and I are having this interview in the middle of the Coronavirus outbreak pandemic, and this office is about to clear out, and I'll probably be the only one here by the time I leave today. So sometimes this is unusual, but sometimes we have really surprising events. You could call them black swan events, unpredictable events, and we need to be able to adjust to those. So that's one type of challenge, big and small surprises. Another challenge is figuring out how to grow businesses. So, understanding what the customer really wants or the client or consumer and then developing things that serve them. And often they can't tell you what they want exactly because they are used to what's out there. But you could figure it out if you watch them. So we do a lot of that. In terms of accomplishments, the company has done really well over the last few years. We're worth five or six times what we're worth when I joined, and we've gone from declining to growing consistently for seven or eight years in a row, so it's really been a lot of fun and the best thing about it is we're just getting started. We have so many opportunities ahead.

How do you inspire and motivate your team members? How do you foster creative thinking? How are ideas shared and implemented?

Based on experience at: CEO, Logitech
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Mar 14 2020
I'm not sure if I'm the most inspirational person in the world. But if I am, it's because I have a very big view of the future that we can create together. And the most people want to be involved in something that they think really can happen. But it is a long way, a long climb away and it's exciting. So I try to paint that vision of the future. That's exciting. I think most people who get excited about that. In terms of really fostering creative thinking and things. We just surveyed the company with what we called logic polls, and what we found out was the people in this company really feel like they have the freedom to make decisions to try things. So we do a lot of experimentation and we're not afraid of making mistakes, and we do make a lot of mistakes. And in fact, one of the things I tell my people is, I don't like the word failure, and I don't like the word success, and I like that you take those out of your vocabulary and replace them both with learning because failure is just the descriptions of something that happened in the past. The same thing with success. Neither one is worth much more than that. Like grades in school. It's more important what you learned than what grade you got. So really focus on the learning. There is a reality, that if something doesn't work and you do it on a scale where it can kill your company, that's a bad thing to do. So you have to have a risk management approach to things. And one of the ways to manage risk is to do things on a small scale first and find out if they work and then scale them up. So those are the kinds of things we do to try to get ideas implemented.

How do you set targets for your team members? How do you measure their progress? How do you incentivize them to meet their targets?

Based on experience at: CEO, Logitech
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Mar 14 2020
We have a long term plan and an annual plan, and then we cut that up into quarters and we divvy the different targets out as you'd expect, and then we measure our progress. Much of our progress is financial, so that's pretty easy to see. And we have a financial system that rolls up our numbers on a regular basis, and we can see them. Our incentives depend on where you are. Some people are incentivized by the annual numbers that were trying to hit, someone are incentivized by the quarter, and so we determine that on an appropriate level.

What qualities do you look for while hiring? What kind of questions do you typically ask from candidates?

Based on experience at: CEO, Logitech
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Mar 14 2020
You know, there are a lot better people to ask that question than me. I've been lucky enough to end up with good people, but it's not because I'm a good interviewer. It's because I had Good help. I would say, but I do think there are certain things I look for. I'm much more interested in the qualities of a person than I'm in their experience. So I don't spend a lot of time going through people's backgrounds. I think it's more important. Are they curious and are you driven? So driven is a big one for me. Driven people don't need a lot of inspiration to get to work, inspiration always helps. But they want to make things happen. So I like people who like to make things happen. I also like people who like to do things, not just theorize about them. And there are people who spend too much time talking and not enough time doing. I always say I would rather work in a company of doers than a company that's special but at the top, it's just thinkers. I think it's great and we all should be thinkers but if you don't do that, well, it's just a discussion. And then the last one is curiosity, and I do like people who are interested in a wide range of things. Not everybody is and they don't need to be. But I think curiosity is helpful for creativity because if you're curious, you tend to be looking at things that don't have anything to do with what you're theoretically working on, but the analogies that from one completely unlike thing to what you're working on are surprisingly powerful. And so, curious people tend to find surprisingly good solutions that others don't come up with. I prioritize potential over experience every time. I don't really like too much discussion about the experience. I hired a guy six years ago. I was just with him a minute ago. Who, theoretically didn't have enough experience to do his job I was hiring for. I think he'd never had more than 10 people working for him in the organization of about 50 or 60. He never run a business, but had a really good understanding of the industry. He's a natural entrepreneur. And so I hired him and everybody said you must be out of your mind. The recruiter wouldn't even let me see him, so he reached out to me. I hired him, and he's been a terrific leader ever since then. He's perfect for this business, and that business is now worth about nine times bigger than it was when he took it over with a lot more people.

What is a typical hiring process for a job like yours? What are the titles of people who interview? What questions usually get asked and how to handle them?

Based on experience at: CEO, Logitech
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Mar 14 2020
I'm a public company CEO. So that means that the hiring process is unique and consistent. The way it works, is normally a board of directors will hire a recruiting company to go out, and first, they look behind the scenes that who's out there might be available that has that kind of background they're looking for to run a company like Logitech. And then they look at companies around and the potential candidates. Then they ask you to interview if you re interested. If you are, then you interview with the board of directors and I interviewed with every member of the board of directors before I get the job.

What are different entry-level jobs and subsequent job pathways that can lead students to a position such as yours?

Based on experience at: CEO, Logitech
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Mar 14 2020
To get to my position, there are lots of paths here. I started as an accountant and then went back to business school, then went into general management. And then it's a different general manager job ended up here. I think there are a lot of different routes here. I wouldn't say there's one definitive way. If you want to run something then don't worry about running something the size of large tech, you can run your own startup, and maybe the best qualification for somebody to run a company is to have run a company. So you ran your own small start-up these days that might be a better background than the one that I have or the better path to where I am than the one that I took, which was great 25 years ago. Today, I think to start your own thing or join somebody else's starting something and get lots of good experience and just keep moving, trying to move out to learn more.

What were the responsibilities and decisions that you handled at work? What major challenges did you face in your job?

Based on experience at: President, EMEA, Whirlpool Corporation
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Mar 14 2020
Well, I ran Whirlpool Europe, Middle East, and Africa. And that business is almost like a self-contained company within the Europe region, mostly Europe, some Africa, Middle East and had a lot of manufacturing plants that were difficult from a cost standpoint. And the brand wasn't as competitive as it could've. So lots of challenges in that business, a great company and great people. So my job was really to try to figure out how to make it consistently grow and be profitable. And, those were the challenges, and it was super rewarding. I worked with amazing people. I don't know how good I was in the job, but it was super fun.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: 1991, MBA, Harvard Business School
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Mar 14 2020
The thing about Harvard is that you do nothing but case studies for two years. So you literally don't crack a book. You look at cases and cases. They're just stories about companies, and you're asked to be put in the situation of the protagonist in the story. But as a CEO, Head of HR, whatever it and so that's a very interesting way to teach you because you end up going, feeling like you lived 1000 different lives in two years. And I would say that was quite a good experience for me. It was a little bit like becoming a consultant for a couple of years. In terms of the faculty and alumni, I'd say it was really good for me because I was changing careers away from accounting into slash marketing or general management and the reputation of the school gave me the chance to do that at a level that I really like. You will have to go to Harvard Business School to do my job or even get a chance. That gave me the opportunity to get in some positions to learn? But I think somebody can get to almost any job otherwise just have to be focused on learning, growing and building your own brand.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: BA, English, Hendrix College
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Mar 14 2020
I was better at Math than English. And so I was more mathematical, than verbal. So when I once decided I wanted to be a leader, maybe a CEO one day, I decided I'd better get better at verbal things. So instead of major in math or one of the natural sciences, I majored in English to improve my ability to speak and write. But I took enough accounting and economics and math so I could get a job coming right out of school outside of the verbal or English field, and I went into accounting. I would say that was a really good choice in my case because I was different from other people who were interviewing. When I was interviewed with the big public accounting firms, I was the only English major I'm sure that year in the whole United States. But I had all the classes you need to take those called CPA exams the United States the public accounting exam. So I would say it made me different. It gave me confidence because I felt advantaged in a different way. And, the school itself is a small liberal arts school. It's a great experience for me. 

Would you like to share something that is not on your resume? This may include your passions, facing setbacks or adversities, a unique experience, or an unexpected help.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Mar 14 2020
I'm passionate about playing Basketball. So if there anybody watching this, who's into sports and think will I keep playing sports when I grow up at some point? Don't stop, Don't stop. Just keep doing everything and add on to things I mean, there's no reason. I'm 57 years old, now playing better basketball today than I was when I was 25. So I encourage you not to let age at some point get in your way. The second thing is, don't let age get in your way the other way either. You know you today you could learn almost anything through this amazing tool called the Internet. You know you're doing it right now if you're watching this, so your ability to build knowledge and build yourself on your own is exceptional today. It's extraordinary compared to where and how I grew up and I would encourage you to keep using it like you obviously are. Now it's a real gift. The third thing I'd say is everybody faces adversities. I mean, they're the things that make you unique, and if you have the right mindset. They make you more effective and powerful. And the way to get the right mindset is to create a story for yourself that helps put you in the position of turning your adversity into your advantage. I'll tell you my story, but you have one too. My story is, I grew up with almost nothing, and my mom was a first-grade teacher in an elementary school. My parents divorced when I was 10 years old, and I had one pair of jeans. I wasn't the poorest person in the world. My siblings and I didn't have any money, and, I used to look at the people who did have money and think out wonder what I could do if I had their money. Then one day I realized much later in my life, maybe in my late twenties. But the biggest advantage I ever had was not having any money because I realized I had to do it on my own, and I had I wasn't I'm not money focused at all, but I knew that I had to go out and make it happen if it was gonna happen because I didn't have a bunch of money, I could put down to go pay for schools, pay for programs, pay for all that stuff. So I did do it on my own, and by doing it on my own and fighting all the time, I became stronger. And I became much stronger than a lot of those people who grew up with a lot of comforts that I didn't have. So if you did grow up with comforts, you get your own story. That's gonna be completely different from what I just told. You could make yourself the hero of that story, too. You're the hero of your story, and it's up to you. Create that story and make yourself a hero.

Do you have any parting advice for students hoping to get to a position such as yours? What 3 dos and 3 don'ts would you suggest?

Based on experience at: CEO, Logitech
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Mar 14 2020
Don't be a pessimist. Don't spend time around people who have bad values. And, don't worry about making mistakes. Worry about not making enough mistakes. On the dos, do create a list of the things you believe in; your values, because living your values, even if it sometimes loses your friends or alienate you from family, is the most important thing you can do for yourself. The second most important thing you can do for yourself is set goals. Goals are the most powerful things in the world, and they're free. The reason they're so powerful because if you have goals and you set your mind and you really want them, you will figure out how to line up all the capabilities and resources is you need to make them happen. So goals are magical, and if you don't have them, you're really missing out and you can have them across every area of your life, not just her work. or career. The third one I'd say is just keep learning. Where things go well or they go poorly view everything as an opportunity to learn. So this is the flip side of the pessimistic. Don't be a pessimist. Be an optimist. A practical optimist. Always look for what you can learn out of everything. Whether it was something that went really well or something really poorly, you will never go wrong learning. I don't really regret or sit around and ponder what I would do differently because it's gone. When I was growing up, my mom didn't have a partner in her life, because my parents divorced and she would always come to me and say, "I wish I hadn't done this. I wish I hadn't done that." And at some point in our childhood, I said to her, Mom, I've never even been to a beach before at that point. But I said, "Mom, Imagine you're standing on the beach and you gotta stick in your hand and you take the stick and you drag it right behind your heels and you make a straight line right behind your heels and your heels were right on this line, but your feet are in front of it. Everything behind that line is what's happened to you, and there's nothing you could do to change it. It's history. You could just learn from it, but everything in front of you is your future." It's what you should be focused on. So don't spend one second regretting anything from your past. It's part of what made you who you are. you spend all your time thinking about how I can learn from what happened and I can build a future. And don't be afraid to make mistakes. They're just new footprints in the sand.