It’s horrifying to sit idly by and watch a visionary CEO like Elon Musk melt down in real time — especially if, like Arianna Huffington, you run a company that teaches business leaders how to encourage a culture of wellness at work.
Huffington, best known as the founder of the Huffington Post, now leads Thrive Global, a consulting company that brings sleep science, nutritional enlightenment, and other health-supporting concepts to the masses, largely through their employers. Not willing to let a promotional opportunity slip past, last week, Huffington wrote an open letter to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who recently gave an interview to the New York Times in which he repeatedly broke down over the state of his health and relationships. Musk admitted to working 120 hours per week, sleeping on the factory floor, and hearing from friends concerned about his state of mind as he pushes his electric car company to dramatically boost production of the Model 3 sedan.
Huffington attempted to appeal to Musk’s rational mind:
You’re a science and data-driven person. You’re obsessed with physics, engineering, with figuring out how things work. So apply that same passion for science not just to your products but to yourself. People are not machines. For machines — whether of the First or Fourth Industrial Revolution variety — downtime is a bug; for humans, downtime is a feature. The science is clear.
She also wisely pointed out to Musk that a sleep deficiency would keep him from connecting to his creativity and vision, one that’s all about harnessing energy properly. What he isn’t considering is the nature of human energy, she said, writing:
Tesla is revolutionary because it’s all about how we can most efficiently use energy, which holds the potential to change the world…But at the same time, you’re demonstrating a wildly outdated, anti-scientific and horribly inefficient way of using human energy. It’s like trying to launch us into our clean energy future (or into space) with a coal-fired steam engine. It just won’t work.
Musk wasn’t convinced. On Sunday (August 20th) at 2:32 a.m. California time, he wrote back to Huffington via with a single tweet, telling her that slowing down was not an option.
Last week Quartz at Work asked whether Elon Musk was ready to embrace his ordinariness. I guess we have our answer.