Elon Musk Learned This Strategy from Napoleon to Keep His Employees 'Motivated' In a highly anticipated new biography by Walter Isaacson, Musk talks about how he applies the French leader's lessons to his business.
One of his inspirations was Napoleon Bonaparte, the French military genius who rose to power during the French Revolution and became Emperor of France.
Isaacson points to one leadership strategy Musk learned from reading about Bonaparte.
"He believes that wherever Napoleon was, that's where his armies would do best. So he liked to show up late at night on the assembly lines at Tesla and SpaceX," Isaacson said.
Sharing the battlefield
For example, while engineers were building a Starship booster at the SpaceX launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, Musk hung around the area for an hour, observing.
"If they see their general on the battlefield, they will be more motivated," Musk told Isaacson.
This may also explain why Musk spends so much time in the 'X' offices. According to an article in the BBC, Musk has installed beds in Twitter's San Francisco headquarters so that he can sleep there.
According to employee Dolly Singh, Musk slept on the office floor at SpaceX.
"Elon wants to live in a world where he works 80 hours a week," she said. "It's OK for him to say, 'I expect you to work as hard as me,' because he's not phoning it in from the beach, he's sleeping in a sleeping bag on the factory floor."
About the new biography
The intimate, new biography entitled Elon Musk will drop on September 12. Isaacson, who also wrote bestselling biographies of Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci, spent two years shadowing Musk. He was given unprecedented access, attending meetings with him and joining him for walks around his factories. He also spent hours interviewing him, his family, friends, coworkers, and adversaries.
About the cage match
Oh, and speaking of Musk's adversaries, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is undoubtedly one, as evidenced by all the talk about a cage match between the two billionaires.
But Isaacson told Axios he thinks talk of Zuckerberg fighting Musk in a cage match "is completely ridiculous."
A few days ago, he shared a screenshot of a text exchange between Musk and Zuckerberg, making the fight seem like it won't happen anytime soon.
I got this text message from Elon Musk at 4:44am CT showing a screenshot of some text messages in which he tells Mark Zuckerberg they should fight this Monday at Zuckerberg's home in Palo Alto. pic.twitter.com/krgRsH5P5G— Walter Isaacson (@WalterIsaacson) August 13, 2023