14 Elon Musk Quotes Every 20 Year Old Needs to Hear

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Contrary to modern popular belief, the accumulation of wealth isn’t a sign of increased intelligence, wisdom, or moral superiority. That being said, people with huge amounts of money will always be the focus of widespread attention. When rich individuals with dubious moral character and a history of harming people become the idol of young people who want to follow in their footsteps, it becomes ever more imperative we help younger generations understand the full picture of the person they are quoting and copying on social media and real life.

Elon Musk has a vast trove of quotable lines, both good and bad. We tried to pick some that give a full picture of the man who has become the idol of tech bros and free-speech absolutists as well as the archenemy of human rights activists and social reformists. There will definitely be quotes that anybody will think should be on this list, but we can’t go on quoting him forever! Here are 14 Elon Musk quotes every 20-year-old needs to hear.

#1 “Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.”

Source: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc / Getty Images
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk helps break ground on the Boca Chica, Texas site of its new spaceport in far south Texas.

Change is constant. Everything changes. There is nothing in this world that will remain unchanged, and those who are resistant to change of any kind will find life frustrating and difficult. As we embrace change, we embrace the fullness of life instead of fighting against it.

#2 “Based on current trends, probably close to zero new cases in US too by end of April.”

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images
In this photo illustration, news about Elon Musk’s bid to takeover Twitter is tweeted on April 25, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. It was announced today that Twitter has accepted a $44 billion bid from Musk to acquire the company.

This is a perfect example of someone who is an expert in one industry thinking their expertise will translate to another industry. Not only was Musk absolutely wrong in this prediction, but his tweet fueled anti-vaccination conspiracy theories, anti-government groups, and extremist right-wing movements.

In our culture of media and personalities, it is common to see someone fall victim to the trap of thinking they can be an expert in anything just because others are listening to them. Musk wasn’t the first, and he hasn’t been the last.

#3 “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

Source: Chesnot / Getty Images
Elon Musk has become infamous on Twitter.

While Musk has contradicted his own advice by admitting that he hates failure, it still remains true that failure is a necessary component of learning and progress. Those who are too afraid to fail to try new things will fall behind those who eagerly press forward in the face of failure.

#4 “The coronavirus panic is dumb.”

Source: jurvetson / Flickr
At the start of the live update event today: full video and cyber-pig ping test.

If caring about the lives and safety of other people is dumb, then I don’t want to be smart. The thing is, the measures taken to prevent the spread and impact of COVID-19 were actually pretty straightforward, reasonable, and had precedent in medical and government history. The hyperbolic discourse on both sides of the aisle certainly got out of hand, but by adding many quotes like this into the mix, Musk reduced the effectiveness of the measures taken and probably contributed to many more people getting sick.  

#5 “For sure wise for elderly or immunocompromised to take the vaccine. Some debate about the second jab though. Quite a few negative reactions to that.”

Source: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images
Elon Musk attends the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

It must have been difficult to include so much misleading and false information in so few words, but our hats are off to Musk for achieving it! It is important to note that Musk barely has any qualifications for working in the industry in which he actually works, let alone in the medical field. Too many people are getting their health and policy information from people who are dangerously misinformed. This includes Musk. Posing misinformation and conspiracy theories as “just asking questions” or a “debate” doesn’t eliminate the danger of that misinformation.

#6 “Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union. Could do so tmrw if they wanted. But why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing? Our safety record is 2X better than when plant was UAW & everybody already gets healthcare.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Source: Maja Hitij / Getty Images News via Getty Images
Tesla head Elon Musk talks to the press as he arrives to to have a look at the construction site of the new Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin.

Readers should know that joining a union does not disqualify you from owning stock options, and Musk’s implying that this would happen is an open threat to workers and a union-busting tactic. Also, there have been many reports that the factories that work under Musk are safety disasters and routinely jeopardize worker health and safety, there is absolutely no data to support the “2X better” safety record, and in fact, all available data suggest the exact opposite.

All readers should remember that joining a union is almost always in your best interest and those who own the company, and the rich and powerful have every incentive to prevent you from doing so, no matter how they frame their opposition. As much as Musk likes to present himself as a champion of humanity, his blatant union-busting proves where his actual loyalties lie.

#7 “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images News via Getty Images
Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during an event to launch the new Tesla Model X Crossover SUV.

This is fantastic advice for everyone, not just those who want to start a business. You should pursue your passions and your goals because they make you happy, or because you believe in them, not just because you think it will make you successful.

#8 “People should pursue what they’re passionate about. That will make them happier than pretty much anything else.”

Elon Musk
Source: Win McNamee / Getty Images News via Getty Images
Elon Musk, founder and chief engineer of SpaceX speaks at the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition.

The following of one’s passions is a topic Musk loves to return to, and it is fantastic advice. Don’t work in a career or make lifestyle choices simply because it is cool, trendy, or will make you rich. If you’re not passionate about it, your life will feel hollow and unfulfilling. Pursue your passions, no matter what they are, and you will find more joy than working a job you don’t love even if it pays well.

#9 “Life is too short for long-term grudges.”

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images
Elon Musk and business leaders converge in Sun Valley, Idaho for Allen and Company Annual Meeting.

We all have a limited amount of time on this Earth, so why waste it making ourselves angry over someone else who probably doesn’t think about you at all? Grudges do nothing but ruin your day for no reason. Forget your grudges, learn to move on, and actually enjoy your life instead of stewing over someone else’s.

#10 “With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon.”

Source: Loren Elliott/Getty Images
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gives an update on the next-generation Starship spacecraft.

Nobody knows where recent innovations in artificial intelligence will lead us, or what doors it will open for humanity, but it has already begun to adversely impact artists, writers, and workers. People are losing jobs because tech executives with too much money and not enough sense want machines to make their art for them instead of paying a living human being. Is artificial intelligence a demon? Hard to say, but current trends suggest it isn’t going to be a smooth ride.

#11 “That’s my lesson for taking a vacation: vacation will kill you.”

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, left, congratulates SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk in front of the historic Dragon capsule.

Generally, you shouldn’t take life advice from eccentric ultra-wealthy people who are disconnected from the worries and stress of everyday life. You should definitely avoid advice from billionaires about taking vacations. You should work to live, not live to work. Neither Musk nor any other boss owns you, your time, or your life. Vacations are necessary for your mental and physical health.

#12 “Go F*** Yourself.”

Source: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images
The rebranding of Twitter into X.

This was Musk’s response to a series of consequences to, in Musk’s own words, “one of the most foolish if not the most foolish thing I’ve ever done on the platform.” This is a reference to when Musk endorsed several anti-Semitic and racist tweets. After that, advertisers began to leave the platform, not wanting to be associated with racism and hate. Musk then had a public meltdown, calling out the brands that cut advertising.

After losing himself to extreme right-wing thought and propaganda, and living in a cult of personality he created for himself, it’s no wonder that Musk finds it hard when the consequences of his own actions come back to bite.

#13 “How much is it?”

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The previous branding of Twitter.

If only we had known what would happen after this tweet. Having too much money, too much pride, and not enough sense, this conversation set in motion a series of events that would lead Musk to buy Twitter, fundamentally changing the platform, and running it into the ground. This tweet should be a monument to everyone that having a lot of money is no sign of common sense.

#14 “I always invest my own money in the companies that I create. I don’t believe in the whole thing of just using other people’s money. I don’t think that’s right. I’m not going to ask other people to invest in something if I’m not prepared to do so myself.”

Source: Jorge Villalba / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
A view of a SpaceX booster.

Depending on who you ask, this is either fantastic business advice, or utter foolishness and pride. Given that Musk is unbelievably wealthy, it is good that he puts his money where his mouth is. That is, of course, if that’s what he actually did. In fact, despite being a public opponent of corporate subsidies and government in general, Musk’s companies have received billions in government subsidies, some even received months before he said this. This means all his spectacular failures and publicity stunts were subsidies by the same people he likes to make fun of and vilify.

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