Miso Robotics CTO/Co-Founder
Caltech B.S., Electrical Engineering
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How did you get to where you are today? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path? What inspired you to work on this startup idea?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 21 2020
um, you know, I think you know, there have been a lot of different experiences in my past that have, you know, let me to this point. And they're all, you know, unique. Uh, but, you know, I think Steve Jobs once said that you can't really connect the dots looking, uh, forward. You can only connect them looking back. And as I reflect on my experiences at me, So I find that to be ah, really resonate with me. But I will say, you know, to be helpful. Some of the things that I think changed my ah shape my career path and enabled me to get to this point is that early on I started focusing on computers and, you know, wanted to become come to understand that really well, uh, and and then I, ah, kind of, you know, went to college, you know, did what every other student does. Uh, and ultimately, at the end of that decided, I need to enter an emerging market, an emerging technology, which was robotics for me. And so, you know, I entered that field and then, uh, using. But just being in that field brought me to an opportunity which ultimately led me to be so robotics today. So, you know, I prepared myself by getting expert knowledge in an emerging field and by having kind of a network that I built through school. And so those were the two things that I think you have you no control over that you can leverage Teoh to kind of get you into a similar position. Um, but I've always been interested in robotics. So, uh, you know, I I was looking I've studied human like walking and grad school because I thought that would purely the key to bringing in robots into the public eye. But, uh, you know, once I saw this opportunity to bring robots into commercial kitchens, I realized that that's such a big opportunity to the leverage robots outside of the factory. And probably a lot closer than having humanoid robots walking around you and everything

Can you walk us through your first few weeks when you started working on this project? How did things change over the next few months?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 21 2020
question. Um, you know, when you first start, if you're doing assuming you're doing attack technical startup, you know, your what you What you only will need to do is lay out all the risks, you know, understand how your business is going to make money and then lay out all the risks. You know, they're going to stop you from getting Teoh a building, that business. And so, you know, for us, we wanted to use robotics and commercial kitchens combining computer vision. Ah, and and, you know, other optimization based mathematics. So, you know, there is a lot of potential technology risks. Um, you know, given my background, I had confidence that we could achieve, uh, you know, solve these issues, but, you know, the investors sure did. And so, you know, we would have to, you know, the first thing we wanted to do is we knew we need to show Can we flip a burger and then can we actually get a customer and deployed this right? And so we were lucky enough to have a founding kind of partner as a customer, and so we were actually able to check that box fairly easily. Uh, But initially, you know, you start off, it's just doing engineering. And now we've grown to a company where it's, you know, 25 or so people. And so, you know, if your founding a company, the skills that you use on day one have to your skills have to evolve every day, every week over time. The things that you're doing today will not make you successful tomorrow. Um, and so for me, you know, I started out just coding day and night and do under the robotics theory whatever was necessary to get the product built. Ah, but over time, I've had to evolve to learn how to hire and manage a team building organization. Ah, and and figure out product market fit for the businesses has been, you know, is always part of the challenge. So the key is to is to read from you is to just read a ton. I will read several, you know, 1 to 2 books a week generally, and just kind of learned how people who have had success in the past have done this and start to understand what you should be working on. Really? So you know, I wish someone had shared some of the readings. I'd had it when I started this, but I, you know, ultimately came upon them. So you have reading. I think it has been a key thing to help me out with that.

What were the challenges in building the initial team and how did you overcome them? How did the team's composition, dynamics, time, and resource commitment evolve?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 21 2020
It's funny because, you know, when you when you first start doing startup, nobody wants toe even hear about your crazy idea. Um, you know, it sounds cool in, like, robots in the kitchen cooking, but like, to actually convince someone to come and work for you, uh, is a big challenge is you know, a lot of people would be interested in the opportunity, but you want the best people. And so you know, the best people get the best opportunities and have the best opportunities available. So how do you, you know, build something from nothing when all these other attractors air out there you're preventing you from, you know, high making your hires and those first tires were really hard. And, um, you know, So initially on the technical team, it was my co founder, Rob Anderson, and I and we were the ones on that part. And so we just built the product. We hired a bunch of interns out of from our Caltech A network, and that was really effective. Interns were very effective early on. Ah, if you get the right ones and ah, but then, you know, we actually like I pretty much just like, blew up every person in the field on lengthen and just message cold called, you know, hundreds of people and eventually found someone that we wanted that wanted to join us. You know, our first full time staff member and he was fresh out of Cornell. So, you know, he actually flew across the country and joined us without even ah without even, um without even visiting. But it was an exciting project to him. It was in line with his interest in his skills were in line with what we needed. So it was just It's just, you know, sheer perseverance. Like I would spend two hours a day I'm or more on Lincoln, just like looking for people on message in them of an over time and especially lately it's been much easier. Everybody wants to join and, you know, it's funny. I mess are you know, I messaged all these people like several years ago, like just a few days ago, we announced that White Castle we were deploying with White Castle, and that was a big announcement for us. And, you know, I actually some of those people were pinging me back years later, so kind of this kind of, you know, full circle. But, you know, once you have traction and once, you know, especially our company, we were just The problem we're working on is just, like, you know, made for TV. And so the press loves it. And so once you start to have that and people see it as a successful company and you start, you build that critical massive of smart people that are gonna, you know, do your core work, then everybody wants to join. So it's, you know, now that we're fundraising, unseating best publicly, and it's a lot easier, I think, to get people interested in the company. Ah, yeah, I mean, it's I mean, we still like, you know, we would call it Like I said, I called hundreds of people to get that first higher. We still interview several, you know, or called several 100 people for position today, but it's just that now I have a team helping me do that process. So you know, it's nice. You still, you know, it's still really important to put proper hiring practices in place even as you grow, especially as you grow, because then you know it's easy to just hire somebody who really wants to join your company. But, you know, you got to make sure that's the right person, so but it feels good. Yeah, I mean, it's great toe, just just to be able to get such access to such amazing people, I really met.

How did your venture get its first professional funding? What were the challenges and how were they overcome? How'd your fundraising efforts change in subsequent rounds?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 21 2020
Yeah. I mean, from my perspective, it was easy because two of our co founders, John Miller and Buck Jordan, are, you know, just fundraising machines. Um, so it was nice to have is a co founder of venture capitalists, And Buck has done over 400 deals. Uh, so he knows what companies get funded and, you know, John Miller. He's raised, like, you know, $1,000,000,000 in his life or something in total, maybe maybe, like, order of magnitude. But he's like an incredible fundraiser and just, you know, brings all the right people together. And, you know, these two were just so hell bent on raising funding for this company that from my perspective, all I had to do is work with them to identify the intersection between what's feasible and what is investible or what people will invest in. Right. And then we were you know, ultimately that led to the product direction that we followed and were ableto raise, you know? You know, initially, we got a lot of friends and family. Um, we went on racism in your home or institutional type investment on. Now I think which is interesting that we're doing that is fairly news. We're, you know, going to the public and raising money through seed invest. Ah, you know, right now we're raising $30 million at an 80 million valuation on seed. Invest in. You know, we just raised a 1,000,000 bucks last week off that White Castle announcement. So, you know, it's it's a totally this is a game changer because before crowdfunding, which the SEC really just approved in its current form in the last few years Ah, you know, people like you and me, like retail investors. We didn't have opportunity to access venture deals like this. It was the domain of, you know, venture capitalists who go on raise big funds. But now you can go on seed investing. You can purchase investments and companies. That's like a reasonable amount in a reasonable amount of risk for for resettle investors. So, I mean, I think this is an incredible opportunity and, you know, it allows the public to speak in terms of what what gets funded, which is, you know, I'm all for that

How did you set the scope for your minimal viable product? How did you get to product-market fit? How did your product evolve over time?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 21 2020
Yeah. Yeah, minimum viable product is definitely an important thing. Important, uh, technique to use. And we also use another technique that we call rats risky assumption testing, which I think goes hand in hand with the minimum viable product. And you know what? What our team likes to do is we like to sit down when we're looking at something and say, What are the, You know, what are the assumptions that were making the, you know, the most risky ones? If you know these assumptions fail, so hold them. This is not this idea will not work, right? And so, you know, oftentimes will will kick off something new by look or even periodically, just revisiting and just sitting out in numerator in the possible risks. Uh, and then when we look at what's an M. V. P? We say, what do we have to build to eliminate all the risks to get in the way of this business working right. And so we started by building just flipping a burger in the lab using human like motion. And you know, that's a challenging, surprisingly challenging. But, uh, you know, using formal methods, which was like my grad research. Um, but we also obviously had to build a system and product around that. So then you know when you get it out. So the minimum viable product for us was just Can we just, like, cook burgers with our partner customer, Callie Burger. And we did launch that. And you know, that was really successful. Ultimately led us, uh, to then evaluate the market, were thoroughly and realize that frying was a great opportunity. So we partnered with Compass Group Levy restaurants, and we brought Philippi to Dodger Stadium Bond to Chase Field in the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ah, and you know, we realized that this was a great technology for something like that. So, you know, ultimately, the platform or building is designed to handle a variety of tasks in the kitchen and to upgrade and develop new functionality over time. But we realized that we thought burgers would be the best, but burgers and fries is really, you know, adds a lot more value if you can do both. And though now we've evolved the product to be, you know, the biggest transition is it used to be on the floor, and now it's on a rail that goes in under the hoods and can work along cook lines. And, you know, we got a lot of feedback from major restaurant customers. Major QSR is the biggest ones. You know that everybody knows their names just because of all the press. Everybody called us. And so we got it done to feedback and, you know, using that we were able to of all that product market fit. But the reason we were able to is because we got that product out there. So if asked him because we got that feedback from the press, you know, we put Callie Burger, we put that robot in Cali burger in 2018 and we were on the cover of USA Today, which is, like, you know, tens of millions of viewers, you know, I don't even know. Is that story worthy of the cover of USA Today? I guess they thought it was, but, you know, that sure helped us smoke out some potential customers and get some recognition. And so we've been leveraging, you know, the kind of we've been telling the story towards of what we're doing to the best of our ability and and if you get that to the right people, you know, in the press that information then gets out and gets you access to customers that you used to have all product market for it, so that's been a big tool for us.

What changes would you attempt in customer targeting, acquisition process, and marketing tools in the later growth phase? Why?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 21 2020
surgery. Yeah. I mean, it's a good question, you know, for us. We're building a product that's designed to go to market on a specific market statement. In this case, it's It's the frying application, Uh, and, you know, start, You know, we've got him in Cali Burger, but also going to White Castle starting in September. And, um so we're starting to take over that market, build the business, demonstrate the unit economics, But then, you know, and so we would love to target customers that use the fryer. Um, right. But over time, what we want to do is expand our platform so that we can expand. That's a little addressable market. Adding on, you know, Italian and pizza, adding on whatever it is right, like explained, expanding the pie as it were to target a larger segment. Now, you know, initially we're focusing on some big customers like White Castle there a nationally recognized chain and and ah, you know, well, I think it makes sense for us to Teoh do these big customers. But as our product evolves and as the processes of our organization involving our costs become increasingly understood, then you know we can start, you know we or would be able to expand our product to, you know, a wider variety of of mom and pop shops, for example. And that's like, you know, perhaps a later stage type approach. Um, but not that you know, not that much later for us, But, uh, you know, it's it's all about identifying a key market. You know, I think the answer is where you would, uh, make a big impact and create a big value proposition and perhaps even something where, uh, the ideas that you're bringing to the table are kind of out there for that space, you know, in kitchens and robotics. That wasn't something that when you put two things together that people don't usually put together, that's when you get the most novelty, I think. And that's why I, you know, read like pretty broadly because, like, I, you know, the I try to think these ideas from disparate fields and say, Why haven't people put these together yet? And so you know, robots and kitchens. Obviously people have thought of that idea, but like it's actually get, you know, expert using those face together and come up with a product that works for that space. Well, you know, other people who are working on that space know how to build a friar, but they don't have that robotics expertise. And so you know you're going to get a whole new set of novel novelty that you wouldn't get, You know that you're not currently getting in the space, and so it's all that's what disrupting really means. It means to bring new ideas to a space. So, you know, I think it's just about finding that space where your idea starts and then expanding that market over time.

Who were your competitors when you started and how did the competition evolve? How did you create a competitive advantage and a unique selling proposition?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 21 2020
Yeah. I mean, early on, You know, the space is definitely heating up. There's more competitors, the food space with robotics and automation. Fairly new space. Even though obviously a lot of factory food manufactured is automated. Uh, but, you know, early on, I think the one name that would have come to mind with Zoom pizza um, you know, they were around about a year before us. There was also creator, which was Momenta Machines of Burger flipping robot. But I think, um, you know, there there's ever all their competitors, but, you know, the way that we're beating them is that they're going out of business. Um, and the reason they're going out of business is because they're taking a different approach than we're taking. Um and you know, the way I see it is, ah, a lot of our competitors are attempting to do to really challenging things. They're trying to build amazing technology to automate a restaurant, and then they're trying to build a restaurant brand. And, you know, I think that I call that the too many miracles problem. And I think if you know, if you're going to do is start up, you're allowed at most one miracle, maybe 1.5. But like, if you know, if you're going to say that you're gonna build, you know, the next generation of autonomous cooking robots and McDonald's, you know, they're probably less risky investments for venture capitalists to put their money in right. And, ah, you know, it's just too much to overcome. And so whereas our competitors often times we're striving for that approach, we said we're gonna build a platform for the industry. We're gonna work with these existing brands in the constraints of the system, but also, you know, with the potential for new builds, be able to dictate at what new kitchens might look like. Um, and so you know, we I think, you know, our evolution is Teoh. It's always been our vision to build this platform, and and so we've kind of kept true to that platform. But we just evolved the product toward that platform over time. Um, I think there may be starting to be companies that will start to spring up or understanding our platform. The broader goal of capturing the market versus just capturing a segment of the market. But I don't you know, I don't know of anybody that's competing with us and that sets, you know, we were at a conference in are called Articulate, I think. And they had, like, 16 food robotic companies. And the thing they said about us, which was I thought funny that they caught on was like most of these companies or just like hardware companies. And you guys were building software and, you know, So our thinking is like the kitchen space is a huge base with a lot of different things. And what we really need to do is organize all those things right and robots or just the way in which we organize things. And so you know, it's it's Ah, if you look at the problem generally than you, you know you. That's how we arrived at our product direction of wanting to build this platform that can generally work well in the kitchen space and even outside the kitchen space. But, you know, we are interested in kitchens here, Um, but I think in terms of creating a solely in proposition Ah, well, we do something very specific. We've realized, like because our system is flexible, you know, it satisfies a demand from some major quick serve restaurants like the ability to change your menu easily. The ability to, uh, you know, have limited time offers. And when you build a totally bespoke mechanical solution to automate something, if you want to change the menu, you know it's prohibitively expensive and requires, you know more than just sending bits through the Internet. So when you when you start to combine a generalized hardware platform with software to power it, then there's a lot of stuff we can do without stepping on the ground. So I think you know, when customers see that the fact that we have the arm and can do that flexibility and, uh, you know, I get a lot of great feedback on that. And so I think that right now is are probably unique selling proposition. And the other thing is, our stuff is just like cheap compared to our competitors. We've been hyper focused on disrupting our bill of materials and, you know, competitors might sell some of their product for hundreds of thousands, and we're trying to, you know, sell it for now, it's 30,000 Um or what? I think we've said it was not with the latest numbers, but about something like that. Right? So we're pricing it to sell at a totally reasonable price. Um, and trying to really make a market out of it.

What were the major exciting and memorable moments? Were there also any moments that almost got you to quit? How did you get past them?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 21 2020
Well, I think there were a lot of exciting moments when we got that first press. Uh, I remember the first comment anyone ever made on the Internet about it. It was something like, I'm paraphrasing, but, uh okay, Something like good luck. Sorry. Sorry. No girls would ever talk to you in high school nerds or something like that. I mean, when I was like, Oh, my God, we've made it. And of course we had, You know, this is very early on, but I just thought it was so funny like that. You know, somebody off the country when, like, Massachusetts would patrol with U flame me on the Internet, you know, which is amazing. It felt amazing eso that that was really cool. You know, being on the cover of USA Today, that was That was a pretty cool, um uh, you know, cooking through the World Series and Dodger Stadium. That was awesome. There was one memorable moment when I think we hit a triple and like everybody in the kitchen cleared out like we have a video and, you know, we can't show, but like, ah, flippy is just cooking along the friars full and everybody in this stand just ran out to see him run the bases. So I mean, I was Ah, it's pretty cool. That was definitely a pretty cool moment. Um, but yeah, announcing this white castle pilot in the last week has been very exciting as well To get that out there in the press and, you know, being on crowdfunding seeing us raise s so much, you know, in terms of, like, moments almost quit. You know, I don't think that's you know, I think I'm lucky. That's just not who I am and my co founder Rob even more so, maybe, you know, we were like we definitely had hard moments where it was incredibly stressful, and it always is right, and it's always incredibly challenging. But, you know, we don't know what it is, but we just don't like to quit. And ah, uh, you know, I can imagine if maybe he was just went. I I just think, you know, it's a lot of is that we were really lucky, and we weren't faced with moments that maybe other founders might be faced with. But, ah, you know, we just had the right people brought to the table, You know, the right background and expertise. We were always, you know, we're getting the board is, like, Great right now. All right. We have the CTO of Open table CEO of Order, Mark. I mean, you know, we we just made sure we got the right people. And, you know, I largely attribute that to having, like, Buck Jordan, You know, our CEO at the moment as, uh ah co founder, because he ah, you know, so much expertise in venture capital. He knew how to get the right people so that we would be making sure that we have people checking us doing the right things, right? So easy to do the wrong thing. You know, you got to figure out what the right thing is.

What responsibilities and decisions did you handle at work? What were the challenges? What strategies were effective in dealing with these challenges?

Based on experience at: Control Software Engineer, eSolar
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 21 2020
that was a fun time. You know, I, uh it wasn't actually getting that jobless challenging. Uh, well, not, uh, finding a job out of school was challenging when Europe A pH. You know, not a lot of people want to respond to your solicitations, but, you know, once I did get in there, it was great. I got to work with some people, some of my classmates, actually from Caltech. So it was good to see them again and be working with them after a few years. Um, you know, I was basically respond. What we did is we built a software and hardware system that would be a utility scale. Solar power plants, concentrated solar thermal. So, you know, we had a field of, you know, let's say in some cases, 50,000 mirrors that air two dimensional robots that point at, um a tower. You want to point them at a tower and heat up the water and use a steam turbine to generate power. And so my responsibility was the controls of you know how and where should those point kind of also, you know? Ah ah, That's what I was brought in to do. But You know, I don't think, you know, I've been programming since I'm, like, probably seven years old pretty intensely. So I was kind of, like already pretty had a lot of experience in programming, so I was able to come in and do quite a bit of other stuff. And so I just you know, what I did is I just worked hard. You know, I it was which was great to have someone like me come in. I think for everyone else, because they had been doing that project for, you know, seven years, something like that. Right? So have some fresh legs come in like the same thing at me. So right. Like that can really invigorate a company. Um, And so, like, I was, you know, 1st 1 in last one out, and I just, you know, I was just carrying over my work, you know, like work habits from grad school. Um and ah, so I really did a whole whole lot. You know, I I, like, rewrote the entire firm. Where one weekend. Um, you know, I did a lot of different stuff, all related to programming, and, uh, you know, I didn't I didn't have anybody work under me? You know, I spent 18 months and learning how to work as a team member. How to develop how toe work, You know, with other developers, it was challenging for his different development. Still challenging for every developer to this day. Ah, you know, different people have different opinions. How on how engineering work should be done. And, uh, sometimes they're both wrong. And sometimes they're both right. And, you know, getting to resolution on that is really is really challenging in some cases. And so, um, you know, I think one strategy was like learning how to work with different people. Kind of keeping a scorecard, like, you know, if I have to work code, you know, jointly with this engineer on this, um, what are some effective strategies for working without a people person? You know, it could be hard to find effective strategies, but like, I'll bet you you can think I bet you if you reflect, you can figure out what's in, in effect, their strategy, right? And so just kind of reflecting and tryingto learn to adopt. To work with people is a big challenge. I think that it you know a lot of engineers struggle with, um that was probably the biggest challenge for me. But then, you know, 18 months in I got this opportunity to do me so And, you know, I pretty much left within two days and on great terms, you know, But, uh, it's just like, you know, it's funny how life carries you along, I think.

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: B.S., Electrical Engineering, Caltech
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 21 2020
SEC alumni network has been absolutely incredible, despite you know how small the school is. But just some of the people I met there that I still talk to, you know, our Ah, like, that's how the door to this me So opportunity opened up for me and probably also have the door to diesel or up and opened up to me as well. So, um, I think, you know, leverage in your alumni network. Really good idea Wherever possible. Um, you know, that's pretty much responsible for all my success to this point, I would guess.

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: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 21 2020
I will say, um you know, I think a PhD program prepares you to do certain things. Um, research in the industry, obviously academia. Um, but it doesn't really necessarily traditionally prepare you for the type of job I wanted to do, which was entrepreneurship. You know, I always wanted to be that I might in undergrad, my, uh, an instructor who was influential Ken Picardy, like, taught a couple entrepreneurship classes, and that kind of gave me the bug and that carry stayed with me the next, like, 10 years. You know, um, but ah, at Texas A, Texas A and M. I mean, it was interesting type of school. It was a lot different than Caltech at Caltech. People would just be, like, pretty much exclusively focused on research. And at Texas am, I think, um, you know, the instructors were kind of really, you know, really put a lot of effort into the courses. I mean, that's true Caltech to but like, they were like, this is your top priority. And and I didn't necessarily see it that way, but ah, you know, I was able to focus on my research. The cool thing was I you know, I moved there with their names. Who was, uh, my, you know, lifting partner Caltech. But he became a professor there, so I I went with him, And, uh, so he's, you know, he's an incredible scientist. Um, and, ah, create mentor as well Who taught me how to write and taught me how that, um, you know, or made me teach myself. I should say, right, that's kind of his style. But, ah, you know, So that was that was really helpful. Um, and, you know, the one thing he said to me once was like, You know, you don't have to let this stand. You know, you don't have to let other people's standards dictate your own standards, which, you know, the great, you know, just a nice thought. I think take Carrie, that I carry with me. Um, but ah, actually, graduating from a PhD program and then trying to find the job is very challenging. I mean, I probably sent out 2030 different applications and heard back from only two people, you know, and I applied probably the robotics computer types off, and, uh, you know, I'm going. I'm very happy with where I landed, But I was kind of disappointed that, um, you know, I wouldn't hear back or all these people. Um, you know, and I think it's just with these big companies, they do a lot of filter. And so, you know, the real interesting question is, how do you get beyond those filters if you're somebody that they really want, You know, um, but yeah. So it's like, Yeah, I think, um, I would say that the rial challenge, uh, is that you know, you have to take whatever skills you have and that you've learned. First of all, you got to, you know, work on stuff that interests you. So whatever skills that interest you, you have to get really good at them, and then you have tow Combine your unique skills in a unique way that other people aren't doing to create the to make you a person who provides it all you in ways that there just isn't a market of people who can provide that value. Right. And this is something I think Scott Adams, the creator Dilbert talks about in one of his books. But, you know, combining creating your unique talents, stack right and I think, like, you know, I had a pretty good stack, starting with computers. My dad taught me finance really helpfully. So I had some good accounting, so, you know, business expertise. But then it's like, OK, grad school. Well, let me and this could help anybody. But let me throw on speaking, explaining your ideas clearly and writing right If you can write and explain your you know, if if you're not writing regularly, like you know that that's how you get good at thinking. That's how you clarify your ideas. You know, if you if you can't write, you can't really think. And so, you know, going through grad school, I think I did like, 15 papers or so. So I got the opportunity toe. Really? Um, Hammer hone in on my writing style and really my thinking style. And so, you know, the other thing that I had from grad school was just, I don't know. It's just some mathematical maturity, I guess, some ability to look at the world, uh, and look for counter examples, right, cause that's like most of what math is. Um and, ah, that taking that attitude that I used that I applied to robotics and applying it to the business into other areas of my life, I think has been immensely helpful. Um, you know, I know Texas A and M has a big alumni network. I don't think I benefitted.

What three life lessons have you learned over your career? Please discuss the stories behind these lessons, if possible. Stories could be yours or observed.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 21 2020
It's a good question. Um, maybe Okay, I would say probably the most important thing is to not jump to conclusions. Um, there are so many times when I was dead certain I was right on Lee to later be shown wrong in a dramatic fashion. Um, you know, and I don't think I think that probably comment. I think anybody can think of many experiences in their life when they felt that way, and you just feel so damn sure. You know, I ran the numbers. Oh, here's a good story. I was at, um I was working on the DARPA Robotics Challenge at Johnson Space Center, and, you know, the Valkyrie robot and I had done this, uh, you know, theory and then implemented this program to identify kind of the mass properties of the robot. And, um, so, you know, I ran the numbers and I came back. And I told the head mechanical engineer on the project that the center of mass is like, several inches off for Murray and measured in that I was sure of that. And I still talk to him. He's out here now in California, but ah, I was so sure that. And then he's and he just like, you know, you're crazy. Whatever. And then I went back and I realized that I solved the problem that, uh, it was very sensitive. And, you know, Niner inputs actually drastically changed the output. And so I maybe it was a bug, or maybe, you know, whatever it was, But the point is, that was like, you know, a time that, you know, you reflect on it. It's embarrassing, and it should be. And ah, that's the type of experience that I think is important a girl from So you know, you're not always right. Probably. But if you could be right half the time, I think that's pretty good, and you just have to be right on the important things. The other thing. I think there's a really interesting thought is like that the day to day of your life. Whatever you do is gonna be a grind. And that, um, there's a very small fraction of the moments in your life that air responsible in a very outsized way for the outcome of events in your life. And so, you know, you don't have to spend every minute of your day working on certain things, you know, like, Oh, you know, you're not optimizing the score of the game. You just have to find those key things that if you do them each day, uh, then that will lead to your success, right? Like there's a 1,000,000 things I could go and and do. But like, Hey, if I can talk to you know, investor and, you know, bring in fundraising, that is like a massive opportunity, right? So you might look at your calendar for the day and say, What is the one? You know, this is, I think, probably Peter Drucker is the person I love to read and management who suggest this. But what is the one thing that you could do? Uh, that it's done well, is going to be very material for success. So it's really it's It's all about, you know, focusing on on the most efficient things, the key things that you need to do. And don't worry about the other time. If you want to just lounge around sloth around, that's fine as long as you succeed in the most important things, and it's important because you can't work all the time. you'll learn that, you know, at least by the time you're 30. Maybe maybe, maybe younger. Uh, but yeah. Identifying those key things to do, you know, um, you know, I used to say, If you don't, how can you know where you're going if you don't know where you've been? And now I I kind of say, you know, if you know, if you if you don't know where you're going, you're definitely not going to get there. Um, so I think it's a you know, that's kind of how I think of it. And, uh, you know, how you gonna you know what, What actions are you taking, Howard? Those going toe lead. And obviously the future is only predictable to some extent. And the farther out we go, the more chaotic it is. But can you, um, you know that like like at least try to take actions that will ultimately contribute toward the direction and goal that you want to do and so set goals and take actions to achieve them. It's super important toe, you know, I as it doing me. So I had to understand what it meant is that personal goals to set organizational goals to set set goals for other people in on other people's goals. Right? Um, but a lot of people just, you know, we were just pattern following machines and we kind of just go around the daily grind like, you know, it's ah, and and and But the key thing is like, when do we break out of that and say, OK, here's the thing that I'm gonna do this novel that's going to affect the future trajectory, right? So, yeah, I think Don't sweat the little moments, but make sure that you're doing the right stuff.

What starting job (after internship) would you recommend to students who hope to grow professionally like you? What other parting advice, dos, and don'ts would you give?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 21 2020
Yeah. I mean, you know, so I I'm a CTO, so I'm a manager. And so, um, I do a lot of stuff. I mean, I managed that your strategy, But, you know, if you're looking for a job like this, um you know, to get into it at the speed at which I got into it, you have to a company because nobody's gonna hire you as a CTO uh, with no experience. Uh, and ah let you learn on the job like I have the opportunity to dio. And so, you know, I think the most important thing knows if you're gonna manage people and you know, you need to understand the work they're doing. And so I you know, I probably could have skipped the first bid ity solar. I really enjoyed it. I wouldn't have wanted to, but, um, it was great to see how people work in teams and get a sense of that in a start up and see how organizations run. But, you know, my friend, right? Thinking going in was a I'm gonna learn how to build products and you know, development and see how organizations run and try toe pay attention. to everything. So I would always ask questions and try toe understand why decisions and how decisions were made. And what is it? You know what is actually going on here and trying to constantly improved my mental model of what a start up looks like in an organization. And obviously, you know, what I thought an organization was five years ago is very different than the way I do it today. And so I think it's, you know, But, you know, as a manager, a part of my job is also to train the staff. So I better know what they need to know, right to some extent, or I better hire someone who can train them. Right? But if I'm you know, as you grow, obviously you you know, you might not know everything but the stage were at I still have to know pretty much, you know, most of the aspects of the business. So, um, it's it's really about, You know, the advice I would say is pay attention as much as you can ask questions, try to focus, you know, explicitly. I'm building your mental model of how these things work and trying to understand how what you want to do can be done. Like, what are all the processes that have to happen when you build organization? What are all the responsibilities? And you know who you know, How does that even work? And so, um, definitely. And then read, write, like, read as much as possible in all the areas in which you need to know. And, uh and, you know, that's that's really how you fill in the gaps. And, you know, if you're not reading, you know, I, uh, you'll hope hopefully you'll realize soon enough that you should be.