"He'd go dark and I'd know that he was just going to rip that person apart."
Business magnate and multi-billionaire CEO Elon Musk apparently has some more dark secrets behind his success. According to his biographer Walter Isaacson, Musk can enter into "demon mode," causing him to be "dark" and act "with a real lack of empathy" in order to be highly productive.
Isaacson, a best-selling author who previously penned biographies on Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein, spent two years shadowing Musk's day-to-day life at home and in the workplace — so he may know a thing or two about Musk's behavior.
He recently shared his thoughts on Musk during an interview on Twitter Spaces, revealing that it was actually the musician Grimes, Musk's ex-girlfriend, who coined the term "demon mode."
Musk would be "unpleasant" to be around in "demon mode," she told Isaacson, but that he "gets shit done," as quoted by Insider.
Elaborating, Isaacson described the Tesla and SpaceX CEO as having a "maniacal sense of urgency" that could intimidate his employees — a "dark streak" that many other successful figures have, he added.
"He'd go dark and I'd know that he was just going to rip that person apart," the biographer recalled.
By Isaacson's estimates, Musk's criticism towards employees was constructive around 80 percent of the time, but "problematic" about 20 percent of the time.
On occasion, Isaacson would discover that a worker that Musk berated had screwed up because of seriously extenuating circumstances, like the recent death of a child. Brutal stuff.
A particularly revealing anecdote was Musk's opinions on empathy. Isaacson claims that Musk told him he thinks it's "egotism" to show empathy to a single person over prioritizing the larger goal at hand.
Given all the unflattering stories about him out there, that kind of worldview makes sense for Musk. There's the widespread reports of poor working conditions at Tesla factories, his firing of workers on a whim, and his gutting of Twitter's offices, to name a few.
All in all, it's not exactly news to hear Musk has a dark side, but hearing it from his biographer reveals another dimension of how far his "dark streaks" can go.
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