How to Learn Like Elon Musk

Elon Musk
“Most study for the sake of knowledge, while he studies to solve problems.” -Dylan Young reflecting on Elon Musk

Study To Solve Problems. Learn First Principles First. Learn From the Best Sources.

Been reading a lot of Wait But Why’s posts on Elon Musk about how he’s revolutionizing everything from the space industry to sustainable energy in the same 24 hours I use to write an unearth-shaking post. How Elon can learn and remain fluent in so many eclectic areas completely fascinated me the more I delved into his projects, so I decided to harness the power of everyone’s favorite knowledge-guru to find the answer: Google.

Here’s what I learned:

Study To Solve Problems:

Elon wanted to tackle the problem of make humans an interplanetary species. He wasn’t sure what was holding us back, so he asked the experts. He quickly discovered that though the will and the way is there, the way is just too expensive. Understanding that the problem lies around lowering spaceflight costs, Elon focused on learning the skills needed to reduce the costs of building rockets (rocket science/materials) and how he would go about selling these rockets (business/entrepreneurial skills).

Implementing this approach to your learning:

  • What problems do I want to solve?
  • -What skills are needed to solve these problems?

Learn First Principles First:

In his Reddit AMA, Elon discussed how learning should be tree-like in structure: One should focus intensely on the roots (i.e. fundamentals) before moving onto the higher tier concepts.

Implementing this approach to your learning:

  • Focus on the fundamentals first. As much as they suck, once you push past the initial learning curve you can tackle the higher tier skills that build upon them.

Learn From the Best Sources:

Elon learned rocket science by talking to the top professors and hosting parties for the top scientists. In addition, he bought textbooks: Which are by necessity curated to be the most thorough and extensive way to transfer knowledge.

Implementing this approach to your learning:

  • Once you have your learning goal, get the best mentors. Ask them what their top 5 resources (books/videos/website) are for learning their given field.

Best resources for more Elon Musk meta-learning: