How Elon Musk fired his assistant after asking for a raise

I deeply respect Elon Musk, even despite the fact that he is criticized and called “a marketer who went to work on NASA’s work.” Even if such criticism is justified, humanity lacks a healthy drive and striving for something distant. After all, this is the first person in history who is simultaneously trying to colonize the solar system, make electric cars mainstream and expand the potential of the brain (and much more). But those far-sighted goals come at a cost to those around him.

Numerous stories from employees and partners show that Musk can prioritize his work at any cost – even to the detriment of his professional and personal relationships. Just read about one such instructive case under the cut.

Fast forward to 2014, in which Musk’s personal assistant, Mary Beth Brown, decided to ask for a raise. Brown worked for the modern-day Tony Stark for 12 years, wandering back and forth between Los Angeles and Silicon Valley every week, working late into the night and even on weekends.

She charted Musk’s work schedules at two companies (SpaceX and Tesla), was involved in public relations, and often helped Musk make business decisions. She was like a continuation of the Mask. At least she thought so.

Ashley Vance in her book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future mentions this story and describes Brown as follows:

Brown – or MB, as everyone called her – became Musk’s loyal assistant, creating in real life a semblance of a relationship between Iron Man’s Tony Stark and Pepper Potts.

If Musk worked twenty hours a day, so did Brown. Over the years, she brought Musk food, made appointments for him, spent time with his children, picked out clothes for him, dealt with press inquiries, and pulled Musk out of meetings if necessary to keep him on schedule. As a result, she became the only link between Musk and all his interests and was an invaluable assistant for the company’s employees.

Ashley also noted that Brown made an outstanding contribution to the early culture of SpaceX, as she paid close attention to every detail and helped balance the atmosphere in the office.

In early 2014, Brown approached Musk with high hopes and asked for a pay raise. To be precise, she wanted to be compensated, like the top executives of SpaceX. Musk, in response to this, suggested that she take a vacation for a couple of weeks, so that in her absence, he would realize the value of Brown’s responsibilities. In other words, he wanted to understand how irreplaceable Brown was to him.

“I told her: Look, I think you are a very valuable employee. Maybe this compensation is correct. You need to take a two week vacation and I will judge whether or not it is, ”Musk said, according to Ashley’s footnotes.

Brown took two weeks off and Musk took over her work. After two weeks, when Brown arrived at the office, Musk told her that he no longer needed her services.

When she returned, I concluded that this relationship would no longer work. ” Twelve years is a good time for any job. It will work great for someone.

It was a real shock for his assistant. After all, nobody gets fired for asking for a raise, right? In the book, Ashley writes that this unceremonious event amazed people inside SpaceX and Tesla and confirmed rumors of Musk’s cruel stoicism and lack of empathy. Musk claims that he offered Brown another job with the same salary, but she refused and left the company.

Now the question arises – why did Musk fire his assistant, who did everything right for him for a long time? Is it really because she asked for more money? Or did Musk find out that their relationship was no longer working? Or that Brown was unable to appreciate / understand Musk despite having worked with him for twelve years?

From Brown’s perspective, it is clear that she was confident in her contributions to the companies Musk ran and therefore wanted Musk to treat her like the best player on his team. Musk, on the other hand, viewed the issue from a very realistic point of view, ignoring all of Brown’s previous contributions.

Thus, in just two weeks, Musk discovered that he no longer needed Brown’s services. That is, for Musk – Brown could not become irreplaceable.

If you agree with Musk’s decision to fire his assistant, it teaches you how important it is to make yourself as indispensable as possible before asking for a pay raise. On the other hand, if you side with the helper, it is a valuable reminder not to underpay and underestimate for years.

The story of Brown’s firing was denied by Elon Musk. 11 August 2017 he wrote on Twitter:

Of all the fake stories, this one worries me the most. Ashley never checked this story with me or my assistant. This is complete nonsense. Mary Beth has been a wonderful assistant for over a decade, but as the company has grown, this role has required several specialists instead of one generalist.

For those who think Musk is a saint who cannot do wrong, I must say that in reality Musk – like all the other cool businessmen – is relentlessly firing people.

who disagree with him or hinder him

(according to Tim Higgins’ new book Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century).

If anything, this is just a joke, not a call to write bad code.

Whatever the real reason, I think this story teaches us some valuable lessons. We should not work in companies where our contributions go unnoticed. Again, we shouldn’t take our job (or our boss’s) for granted. It doesn’t matter how many years you have worked in the company or how close you are to the management – you can be replaced at any time. Keep this in mind and give your personal life more value than the company you work for.

And, of course, before asking for a pay raise, be sure to give your lead at least a dozen reasons (if not more) why you deserve it. Moreover, it is better not to work for those companies where you need to ask for a raise.

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