The Refreshing Scent of Musk

Jim Woods

Jim Woods has over 20 years of experience in the markets from working as a stockbroker, financial journalist, and money manager.

“I’ll say what I want, and if the consequence of that is losing money, so be it.”

This is one of many refreshingly honest, bold and yes, eccentric quotes by the inimitable Elon Musk during his much-talked-about interview Tuesday with CNBC’s David Faber.

Musk offered this thought in response to Faber’s question about the Twitter CEO’s sometime caustic, inflammatory and darkly conspiratorial tweets, and whether he was concerned that his tweets could scare off potential Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) buyers or Twitter advertisers.

What I found eminently fascinating and most important about the Musk interview, which I strongly recommend you watch in its entirety, is that Musk is one of the few public figures, and certainly one of the few public company CEOs, that has enough courage to actually speak his mind.

Now, you may love what Elon Musk is saying, or you may hate it. Either way, as an informed citizen and as an investor in the equity markets, you had better listen, as Musk’s opinions matter to society more than nearly everyone else’s.

I say that because Elon Musk is not just a normal CEO. He’s a polymath of the highest order, and a man who has done more with his 51 years on earth than just about anyone who has ever lived. So, when he speaks, it behooves us all to pay close attention.

Another important observation I had in watching the CNBC interview was just how thoughtful Musk is when answering questions. In response to many of Faber’s tough and provocative inquiries, Musk’s immediate response was a pregnant pause that revealed a man who actually thinks deeply about issues. Indeed, when you watch the interview, you can see a man whose “gears are turning” and who actually is calculating not just what he “should” say about an issue, but what he “thinks” about an issue. That kind of honesty is rare, regardless of whether you think his honest opinions are right.

What I also find interesting is that Musk’s thoughtfully blunt responses were reminiscent of the time I met with, and interviewed, him. I was at an alternative energy investing conference in 2008, where Musk was a speaker/panelist. He also gave select investors demo rides in what was then the first Tesla Roadster. I was fortunate enough to be given one of these demo rides, and to ask Musk a few questions about what was then a relatively new (and not-yet-publicly traded) electric car company.

Well, what I saw Tuesday on CNBC was similar to what I saw up close and personal. That is to say, a man who actually thinks deeply, and who gives clear and well-thought-out answers to questions of importance to us all.

Now, there were many other newsworthy thoughts offered in the CNBC interview, particularly on controversial and critically important subjects that affect the future of humanity. One area of inquiry important here, particularly to investors, is the subject of artificial intelligence, or A.I.

Here, I thought Musk was a bit more optimistic about A.I. and the role it could play in humanity’s future than he has been in past interviews, when he warned that A.I. could lead to “civilization destruction.” Now, Musk reiterated that the chance of A.I. going very wrong is still present, but he made sure that he said he thought the chances of that outcome are small. What he also said was that Tesla is on the forefront of A.I., and that at some point soon, he expects Tesla will have a “ChatGPT moment” with full self-driving cars. Musk has been promising fully autonomous, or “self-driving,” cars for some time now, but the company isn’t there yet.

Another example of just how refreshing the scent of Musk’s responses were to Faber’s questions is when he discussed politics. Musk admitted that he voted for President Biden, and that he believes Biden won the 2020 election and that it wasn’t “stolen.” However, Musk also said that he did think there was at least some voter fraud.

Yet, the most refreshing part of Musk’s response here was what he said about the nature of the people who have recently occupied the Oval Office: “I wish we could have just a normal human being as president.”

Here, the refreshing scent of Musk is a fragrance we all should fancy.


Thoughts on Finality

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

–Dr. Seuss

The world never stops changing, we all know that. But that change is permanently punctuated when someone significant in our lives dies. During these poignant points, it behooves us to follow the wisdom of the great Dr. Seuss. So, don’t cry at the finality, smile at the fortuity. Those who have left us would likely want it that way.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods

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