The ultimate immigrant story

posted by Jeff | Friday, March 31, 2017, 9:55 PM | comments: 0

Yesterday was a pretty cool day, because SpaceX managed to launch an orbital rocket for the second time. It's not obvious to everyone why this is a big deal, but it's not a stretch to compare it to the birth of commercial aviation. As a childhood space nerd that didn't understand all of the compromise and unfortunate complexity of the Space Shuttle program, I'm pretty excited about this. In a time where politics are dominated by lies, a lack of transparency and doubt about what America stands for, I'm pretty excited about this. As someone who sees the way forward for humanity as being rooted in science and technology, I'm pretty excited about this.

Under all of this is the story of Elon Musk, and if you know me at all, you know I'm a fan. I have a Tesla Model S in the garage, for which my coworkers tease me when I tell them that it's for science (as opposed to status). As long as Tesla follows through on their referral program, I'm going to have a Powerwall battery installed in my house (and we're contemplating solar). I've been out at Cape Canaveral for SpaceX launches. It's not that I have an arbitrary mancrush on Musk, it's just that everywhere he goes to be a modern day industrialist in the vein of Henry Ford, he's making something important and saving the world.

The haters will point out that all Elon Musk has succeeded in doing is create a car that you can't afford unless you make six figures a year, rockets that are for telecoms and NASA, and solar panels that are vaporware. But oh, ye of little faith... that's a half-truth. The cars have always been a way to prove the viability of EV's and to subsidize the development of the cheaper, economy-of-scale cars, and the Model 3 is coming. The rockets and the reuse means the reduced cost is about to become a reality. And the solar panels that look like roof tiles? They're going to start taking orders next month. Oh, and there's a good chance that they're not far off from being cheaper than a standard asphalt roof.

I'm not going to suggest that the results of these endeavors aren't the product of thousands of hard-working, smart people. But at the core of all of this innovation that will clearly benefit the world is a South African immigrant named Elon with lofty goals and extraordinary vision. I would encourage you to read his biography. His story is the American dream, through and through. Landing on our shores has led to the creation of billions of dollars in value to a number of companies and tens of thousands of jobs. And if that weren't enough, his vision for clean energy is quite literally changing the world. Tesla energy products are now powering entire islands, while EV's are reducing emissions and making driving safer than any time in history.

One of the minor lessons I've learned about hiring people, in a company that is mostly remote, is that I would be overlooking literally hundreds of good people if I limited my search to those geographically close. Our political climate now values fear of a few bad people over hope that a revolutionary innovator could make us stronger. This has to change. Our nation was founded by immigrants and their children, and the cliche may be that immigrants built the railroads, but I can tell you first-hand that they also built my neighborhood. We have to move beyond fear and embrace that people of all nationalities, ethnicities and religions make us stronger. This is our past, and it must be our future.

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