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Elon Musk Reveals His Tactics for Building Successful Companies, Including Sleeping Under His Desk and 'Working Every Waking Hour' Musk shared the secrets on a podcast with Nicolai Tangen, CEO of the $1.6 trillion Norges Bank.

By Sherin Shibu Edited by Jessica Thomas

Key Takeaways

  • Elon Musk spoke about how many hours of work he had to put in during the early days of his startups.
  • Though he wouldn't recommend it, he admitted to working 100-hour weeks and only sleeping six hours a night.
  • Musk also talked about his management strategy and mindset toward his legacy.

Elon Musk founded Tesla, SpaceX, xAI, Neuralink and other companies and consistently ranks among the top three richest people in the world. But his recent conversation with another powerful CEO shows the price Musk had to pay to achieve wealth — and the management and mindset strategies he employs now to build successful companies.

Musk explained how he defined ultra-hard work to Nicolai Tangen, CEO of $1.6 trillion Norges Bank, the world's largest wealth fund, on an April episode of Tangen's podcast, In Good Company.

Ultra-hard work happens when "you're basically just working every waking hour," Musk said.

When asked how long he could do that, Musk replied that he'd done it "continuously" for a few years at a time.

Elon Musk. Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

"I've done many, many stretches of 100-hour weeks, where roughly six hours per day is sleeping," Musk said. "I would not recommend that. That's for emergencies."

Musk put in those 100-hour weeks during difficult times at Tesla and in the early days of some of his startups, when he said he slept under his desk and worked seven days a week.

Related: 'Americans Just Work Harder' Than Europeans, Says the CEO of Norges Bank, the World's Largest Wealth Fund

Musk also discussed overseeing hard workers on the podcast, stating that smart people tend to manage themselves and can work anywhere. His strategy is to outline a common goal and ask them if they agree with it. If they do, they can get it done.

When Tangen asked how Musk balanced micromanagement with delegation, he claimed he wouldn't call his style "micromanagement."

"It's just insisting on attention to detail," Musk said. "If you're trying to make a perfect product, attention to detail is essential."

Related: Elon Musk Says Remote Workers Have 'Marie Antoinette Vibes'

Musk's last tactic for building successful companies might be his mindset toward his own impact.

When asked how he would want to be remembered, Musk said he doesn't mind if his legacy is inaccurate as long as he feels like he's "done the right thing for the future of consciousness."

Musk is the CEO of Tesla, which he stated this week is on track to produce new, more affordable electric cars even as revenue dipped year over year.

Related: Elon Musk Tells Investors Cheaper Tesla Electric Cars Should Arrive Ahead of Schedule

Sherin Shibu

Entrepreneur Staff

News Reporter

Sherin Shibu is a business news reporter at Entrepreneur.com. She previously worked for PCMag, Business Insider, The Messenger, and ZDNET as a reporter and copyeditor. Her areas of coverage encompass tech, business, strategy, finance, and even space. She is a Columbia University graduate.

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