Elon Musk Life in CANADA

MUSK’S GREAT ESCAPE TO CANADA WAS NOT WELL THOUGHT OUT. He knew of a
great-uncle in Montreal, hopped on a flight and hoped for the best. Upon landing in June 1988, Musk
found a pay phone and tried to use directory assistance to find his uncle. When that didn’t work, he
called his mother collect. She had bad news. Maye had sent a letter to the uncle before Musk left and
received a reply while her son was in transit. The uncle had gone to Minnesota, meaning Musk had
nowhere to stay. Bags in hand, Musk headed for a youth hostel.
After spending a few days in Montreal exploring the city, Musk tried to come up with a long-term
plan. Maye had family scattered all across Canada, and Musk began reaching out to them. He bought a
countrywide bus ticket that let him hop on and off as he pleased for one hundred dollars, and opted to
head to Saskatchewan, the former home of his grandfather. After a 1,900-mile bus ride, he ended up in
Swift Current, a town of fifteen thousand people. Musk called a second cousin out of the blue from the
bus station and hitched a ride to his house.
Musk spent the next year working a series of odd jobs around Canada. He tended vegetables and
shoveled out grain bins at a cousin’s farm located in the tiny town of Waldeck. Musk celebrated his
eighteenth birthday there, sharing a cake with the family he’d just met and a few strangers from the
neighborhood. After that, he learned to cut logs with a chain saw in Vancouver, British Columbia. The
hardest job Musk took came after a visit to the unemployment office. He inquired about the job with
the best wage, which turned out to be a gig cleaning the boiler room of a lumber mill for eighteen
dollars an hour. “You have to put on this hazmat suit and then shimmy through this little tunnel that you
can barely fit in,” Musk said. “Then, you have a shovel and you take the sand and goop and other
residue, which is still steaming hot, and you have to shovel it through the same hole you came through.
There is no escape. Someone else on the other side has to shovel it into a wheelbarrow. If you stay in
there for more than thirty minutes, you get too hot and die.” Thirty people started out at the beginning
of the week. By the third day, five people were left. At the end of the week, it was just Musk and two
other men doing the work.
As Musk made his way around Canada, his brother, sister, and mother were figuring out how to
get there as well.* When Kimbal and Elon eventually reunited in Canada, their headstrong, playful
natures bloomed. Elon ended up enrolling at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, in 1989. (He
picked Queen’s over the University of Waterloo because he felt there were more good-looking
women at Queen’s.)
2 Outside of his studies, Elon would read the newspaper alongside Kimbal, and
the two of them would identify interesting people they would like to meet. They then took turns coldcalling these people to ask if they were available to have lunch. Among the harassed was the head of
marketing for the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, a business writer for the Globe and Mail, and a
top executive at the Bank of Nova Scotia, Peter Nicholson. Nicholson remembered the boys’ call
well. “I was not in the habit of getting out-of-the-blue requests,” he said. “I was perfectly prepared to
have lunch with a couple of kids that had that kind of gumption.” It took six months to get on
Nicholson’s calendar, but, sure enough, the Musk brothers made a three-hour train ride and showed up
on time.
Nicholson’s first exposure to the Musk brothers left him with an impression many would share.
Both presented themselves well and were polite. Elon, though, clearly came off as the geekier, more
awkward counterpoint to the charismatic, personable Kimbal. “I became more impressed and
fascinated as I talked to them,” Nicholson said. “They were so determined.” Nicholson ended up
offering Elon a summer internship at the bank and became his trusted advisor.
Not long after their initial meeting, Elon invited Peter Nicholson’s daughter Christie to his
birthday party. Christie showed up at Maye’s Toronto apartment with a jar of homemade lemon curd
in hand and was greeted by Elon and about fifteen other people. Elon had never met Christie before,
but he went right up to her and led her to a couch. “Then, I believe the second sentence out of his
mouth was ‘I think a lot about electric cars,’” Christie said. “And then he turned to me and said, ‘Do
you think about electric cars?’” The conversation left Christie, who is now a science writer, with the
distinct impression that Musk was handsome, affable, and a tremendous nerd. “For whatever reason, I
was so struck by that moment on the sofa,” she said. “You could tell that this person was very
different. He captivated me in that way.”
With her angular features and blond hair, Christie fit Musk’s type, and the two stayed in touch
during Musk’s time in Canada. They never really dated, but Christie found Musk interesting enough to
have lengthy conversations with him on the phone. “One night he told me, ‘If there was a way that I
could not eat, so I could work more, I would not eat. I wish there was a way to get nutrients without
sitting down for a meal.’ The enormity of his work ethic at that age and his intensity jumped out. It
seemed like one of the more unusual things I had ever heard.”
A deeper relationship during this stint in Canada arose between Musk and Justine Wilson, a
fellow student at Queen’s. Leggy with long, brown hair, Wilson radiated romance and sexual energy.
Justine had already fallen in love with an older man and then ditched him to go to college. Her next
conquest was meant to wear a leather jacket and be a damaged, James Dean sort. As fortune would
have it, however, the clean-cut, posh-sounding Musk spotted Wilson on campus and went right to
work trying to date her. “She looked pretty great,” Musk said. “She was also smart and this
intellectual with sort of an edge. She had a black belt in tae kwon do and was semi-bohemian and,
you know, like the hot chick on campus.” He made his first move just outside of her dorm, where he
pretended to have bumped into her by accident and then reminded her that they had met previously at
a party. Justine, only one week into school, agreed to Musk’s proposal of an ice cream date. When he
arrived to pick up Wilson, Musk found a note on the dorm room door, notifying him that he’d been
stood up. “It said that she had to go study for an exam and couldn’t make it and that she was sorry,”
Musk said. Musk then hunted down Justine’s best friend and did some research, asking where Justine
usually studied and what her favorite flavor of ice cream was. Later, as Justine hid in the student
center studying Spanish, Musk appeared behind her with a couple of melting chocolate chip ice cream
cones in hand.
Wilson had dreamed of having a torrid romance with a writer. “I wanted to be Sylvia and Ted,”
she said. What she fell for instead was a relentless, ambitious geek. The pair attended the same
abnormal-psychology class and compared their grades following an exam. Justine notched a 97, Musk
a 98. “He went back to the professor, and talked his way into the two points he lost and got a
hundred,” Justine said. “It felt like we were always competing.” Musk had a romantic side as well.
One time he sent Wilson a dozen roses, each with its own note, and he also gifted Wilson a copy of
The Prophet filled with handwritten romantic musings. “He can sweep you off your feet,” Justine
said.
During their university years, the two youngsters were off and on, with Musk having to work hard
to keep the relationship going. “She was hip and dated the coolest guys and wasn’t interested in Elon
at all,” Maye said. “So that was hard on him.” Musk pursued a couple of other girls, but kept
returning to Justine. Any time she acted cool toward him, Musk responded with his usual show of
force. “He would call very insistently,” she said. “You always knew it was Elon because the phone
would never stop ringing. The man does not take no for an answer. You can’t blow him off. I do think
of him as the Terminator. He locks his gaze on to something and says, ‘It shall be mine.’ Bit by bit, he
won me over.”
College suited Musk. He worked on being less of a know-it-all, while also finding a group of
people who respected his intellectual abilities. The university students were less inclined to laugh off
or deride his opinionated takes on energy, space, and whatever else was captivating him at the
moment. Musk had found people who responded to his ambition rather than mocking it, and he fed on
this environment.
Navaid Farooq, a Canadian who grew up in Geneva, ended up in Musk’s freshman-year
dormitory in the fall of 1990. Both men were placed in the international section where a Canadian
student would get paired with a student from overseas. Musk sort of broke the system, since he
technically counted as a Canadian but knew almost nothing about his surroundings. “I had a roommate
from Hong Kong, and he was a really nice guy,” Musk said. “He religiously attended every lecture,
which was helpful, since I went to the least number of classes possible.” For a time, Musk sold
computer parts and full PCs in the dorm to make some extra cash. “I could build something to suit
their needs like a tricked-out gaming machine or a simple word processor that cost less than what
they could get in a store,” Musk said. “Or if their computer didn’t boot properly or had a virus, I’d fix
it. I could pretty much solve any problem.” Farooq and Musk bonded over their backgrounds living
abroad and a shared interest in strategy board games. “I don’t think he makes friends easily, but he is
very loyal to those he has,” Farooq said. When the video game Civilization was released, the college
chums spent hours building their empire, much to the dismay of Farooq’s girlfriend, who was
forgotten in another room. “Elon could lose himself for hours on end,” Farooq said. The students also
relished their loner lifestyles. “We are the kinds of people that can be by ourselves at a party and not
feel awkward,” Farooq said. “We can think to ourselves and not feel socially weird about it.”
Musk was more ambitious in college than he’d been in high school. He studied business,
competed in public speaking contests, and began to display the brand of intensity and competitiveness
that marks his behavior today. After one economics exam, Musk, Farooq, and some other students in
class came back to the dorms and began comparing notes to try to ascertain how well they did on the
test. It soon became clear that Musk had a firmer grasp on the material than anyone else. “This was a
group of fairly high achievers, and Elon stood way outside of the bell curve,” Farooq said. Musk’s
intensity has continued to be a constant in their long relationship. “When Elon gets into something, he
develops just this different level of interest in it than other people. That is what differentiates Elon
from the rest of humanity.”
In 1992, having spent two years at Queen’s, Musk transferred to the University of Pennsylvania on
a scholarship. Musk saw the Ivy League school as possibly opening some additional doors and went
off in pursuit of dual degrees—first an economics degree from the Wharton School and then a
bachelor’s degree in physics. Justine stayed at Queen’s, pursuing her dream of becoming a writer, and
maintained a long-distance relationship with Musk. Now and again, she would visit him, and the two
would sometimes head off to New York for a romantic weekend.
Musk blossomed even more at Penn, and really started to feel comfortable while hanging out with
his fellow physics students. “At Penn, he met people that thought like him,” Maye said. “There were
some nerds there. He so enjoyed them. I remember going for lunch with them, and they were talking
physics things. They were saying, ‘A plus B equals pi squared’ or whatever. They would laugh out
loud. It was cool to see him so happy.” Once again, however, Musk did not make many friends among
the broader school body. It’s difficult to find former students who remember him being there at all.
But he did make one very close friend named Adeo Ressi, who would go on to be a Silicon Valley
entrepreneur in his own right and is to this day as tight with Elon as anyone.
Ressi is a lanky guy well over six feet tall and possesses an eccentric air. He was the artistic,
colorful foil to the studious, more buttoned-up Musk. Both of the young men were transfer students
and ended up being placed in the funky freshman dorm. The lackluster social scene did not live up to
Ressi’s expectations, and he talked Musk into renting a large house off campus. They got the tenbedroom home relatively cheap, since it was a frat house that had gone unrented. During the week,
Musk and Ressi would study, but as the weekend approached, Ressi, in particular, would transform
the house into a nightclub. He covered the windows with trash bags to make it pitch black inside and
decorated the walls with bright paints and whatever objects he could find. “It was a full-out,
unlicensed speakeasy,” Ressi said. “We would have as many as five hundred people. We would
charge five dollars, and it would be pretty much all you could drink—beer and Jell-O shots and other
things.”
Come Friday night, the ground around the house would shake from the intensity of the bass being
pumped out by Ressi’s speakers. Maye visited one of the parties and discovered that Ressi had
hammered objects into the walls and lacquered them with glow-in-the-dark paint. She ended up
working the door as the coat check/money taker and grabbed a pair of scissors for protection as the
cash piled up in a shoe box.
A second house had fourteen rooms. Musk, Ressi, and one other person lived there. They
fashioned tables by laying plywood on top of used kegs and came up with other makeshift furniture
ideas. Musk returned home one day to find that Ressi had nailed his desk to the wall and then painted
it in Day-Glo colors. Musk retaliated by pulling his desk down, painting it black, and studying. “I’m
like, ‘Dude, that’s installation art in our party house,’” said Ressi. Remind Musk of this incident and
he’ll respond matter-of-factly, “It was a desk.”
Musk will have the occasional vodka and Diet Coke, but he’s not a big drinker and does not really
care for the taste of alcohol. “Somebody had to stay sober during these parties,” Musk said. “I was
paying my own way through college and could make an entire month’s rent in one night. Adeo was in
charge of doing cool shit around the house, and I would run the party.” As Ressi put it, “Elon was the
most straight-laced dude you have ever met. He never drank. He never did anything. Zero. Literally
nothing.” The only time Ressi had to step in and moderate Musk’s behavior came during video game
binges that could go on for days.
Musk’s longtime interest in solar power and in finding other new ways to harness energy
expanded at Penn. In December 1994, he had to come up with a business plan for one of his classes
and ended up writing a paper titled “The Importance of Being Solar.” The document started with a bit
of Musk’s wry sense of humor. At the top of the page, he wrote: “The sun will come out tomorrow. . .
.”—Little Orphan Annie on the subject of renewable energy. The paper went on to predict a rise in
solar power technology based on materials improvements and the construction of large-scale solar
plants. Musk delved deeply into how solar cells work and the various compounds that can make them
more efficient. He concluded the paper with a drawing of the “power station of the future.” It
depicted a pair of giant solar arrays in space—each four kilometers in width—sending their juice
down to Earth via microwave beams to a receiving antenna with a seven-kilometer diameter. Musk
received a 98 on what his professor deemed a “very interesting and well written paper.”
A second paper talked about taking research documents and books and electronically scanning
them, performing optical character recognition, and putting all of the information in a single database
—much like a mix between today’s Google Books and Google Scholar. And a third paper dwelled on
another of Musk’s favorite topics—ultracapacitors. In the forty-four-page document, Musk is plainly
jubilant over the idea of a new form of energy storage that would suit his future pursuits with cars,
planes, and rockets. Pointing to the latest research coming out of a lab in Silicon Valley, he wrote:
“The end result represents the first new means of storing significant amounts of electrical energy
since the development of the battery and fuel cell. Furthermore, because the Ultracapacitor retains the
basic properties of a capacitor, it can deliver its energy over one hundred times faster than a battery
of equivalent weight, and be recharged just as quickly.” Musk received a 97 for this effort and praise
for “a very thorough analysis” with “excellent financials!”
The remarks from the professor were spot-on. Musk’s clear, concise writing is the work of a
logician, moving from one point to the next with precision. What truly stood out, though, was Musk’s
ability to master difficult physics concepts in the midst of actual business plans. Even then, he showed
an unusual knack for being able to perceive a path from a scientific advance to a for-profit enterprise.
As Musk began to think more seriously about what he would do after college, he briefly
considered getting into the videogame business. He’d been obsessed with video games since his
childhood and had held a gaming internship. But he came to see them as not quite grand enough a
pursuit. “I really like computer games, but then if I made really great computer games, how much
effect would that have on the world,” he said. “It wouldn’t have a big effect. Even though I have an
intrinsic love of video games, I couldn’t bring myself to do that as a career.”
In interviews, Musk often makes sure that people know he had some truly big ideas on his mind
during this period of his life. As he tells it, he would daydream at Queen’s and Penn and usually end
up with the same conclusion: he viewed the Internet, renewable energy, and space as the three areas
that would undergo significant change in the years to come and as the markets where he could make a
big impact. He vowed to pursue projects in all three. “I told all my ex-girlfriends and my ex-wife
about these ideas,” he said. “It probably sounded like super-crazy talk.”
Musk’s insistence on explaining the early origins of his passion for electric cars, solar energy, and
rockets can come off as insecure. It feels as if Musk is trying to shape his life story in a forced way.
But for Musk, the distinction between stumbling into something and having intent is important. Musk
has long wanted the world to know that he’s different from the run-of-the-mill entrepreneur in Silicon
Valley. He wasn’t just sniffing out trends, and he wasn’t consumed by the idea of getting rich. He’s
been in pursuit of a master plan all along. “I really was thinking about this stuff in college,” he said.
“It is not some invented story after the fact. I don’t want to seem like a Johnny-come-lately or that I’m
chasing a fad or just being opportunistic. I’m not an investor. I like to make technologies real that I
think are important for the future and useful in some sort of way.

Published by turkishinvest

professional agent from turkey for help and guide of turkish investments on property sectors for business and citizenships..

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