At Tesla‘s annual shareholder meeting in Mountain View, California, on Tuesday, co-founder and CEO Elon Musk responded to a question about missed Model 3 production targets with, in part, a story about his childhood.
The Tesla boss further explained his tendency to set and miss production targets by saying he is a “naturally optimistic person.”
“I kind of say when I think it can occur, but then I am typically optimistic about these things. But maybe, hopefully less optimistic over time. It pretty much always happens but not exactly on the time frame,” Musk says.
Were he not an optimistic person, the billionaire entrepreneur says he “would not have probably done cars or rockets.” In addition to running Tesla, Musk is the boss of aerospace company SpaceX.
Musk also says he is working to improve his ability to provide accurate estimates of when tasks will be completed and goals met. “I am trying to recalibrate these estimates. Um, yeah. I am trying to recalibrate as much as possible,” the Tesla boss says.
“I mean I’d probably put some sandbag on future dates, that’s probably wise,” Musk says.
Ramping up the production of Model 3 vehicles has been testing the entire organization, Musk says, and the process as taxed the team.
“It’s insanely hard just staying alive, just want to be clear, it’s really difficult,” says Musk. “We have had people at Tesla who have sort of worked like 60 days straight. We had to basically force them to go home. Like, ‘You have got to got to go home, man. You are going to keel over.’ And then he snuck back in to work. We were like, ‘Dammit, we said go home!'”
For him personally, Musk says the recent efforts to increase production have been some of the hardest he has ever experienced.
“I have to tell you, like the most excruciating, hellish several months I have maybe ever had — and a lot of other people at Tesla — but I think we are getting there,” Musk says.
In addition to explaining his own optimism-fueled tendency to be overly aggressive in setting deadlines, Musk underscored what he considers the unique quality of car the Tesla is producing.
“We are doing everything we can to make it is as good as possible, as fast as possible. This is going to sound maybe a little cheesy but at Tesla we build our cars with love. Like, we really care,” says Musk. “I think at a lot of other companies they are built by the marketing department and the finance department and there is no soul.
“We’re not perfect, but we pour our heart and soul into the product and we really care.”
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