Productivity

How Elon Musk runs his “famously efficient” meetings

Dominic Powell /

Elon Musk may possibly be the world’s coolest chief executive and billionaire, but he’s also reportedly a ruthless boss with high expectations.

Musk, who rose to fame and fortune after establishing global online payments company PayPal, now heads up both private space company SpaceX and electric car manufacturer Tesla. He has an estimated net worth of approximately $US13.3 billion ($17.5 billion).

Read more: Elon Musk on conquering his fears and the importance of small ideas

Being as successful as Musk takes a lot of big ideas, persistence, and most importantly, hard work—the extent of which has been revealed by ex-SpaceX employee Skyler Shuford on question and answer site Quora.

Shuford was an engineer at SpaceX and worked in the development of Dragon, one of SpaceX’s line of space crafts. In his time there, Shuford observed Musk’s methodology when it came to meetings.

The method? Only hold a meeting when necessary.

Shuford recalls a conversation with a friend who worked at SpaceX for a number of years before Shuford joined, who told him Musk once said to a meeting member: “You haven’t said anything. Why are you in here?”

Although this might seem a little extreme, Shuford believes the approach makes sense.

“Don’t be in a meeting unless there’s a purpose for it; either to make a decision, or get people up to speed. In most cases, an email will suffice,” he says.

“Meetings are expensive. Assuming the fully-encumbered cost of an engineer can be between $80–$100 per hour, having a 10-person meeting can cost a company around $1000 an hour!

“For $1000 per hour, that meeting better damn well be worth it.”

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the features and profiles editor at SmartCompany.

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