8 CEO lessons Elon Musk tried to teach his bother Kimbal, based on a mobile game Musk was obsessed with

8 CEO lessons Elon Musk tried to teach his bother Kimbal, based on a mobile game Musk was obsessed with
  • In 2021, Musk became obsessed with the mobile strategy game "The Battle of Polytopia," per his biographer.

  • Musk's obsession with the game was such that it once delayed a meeting with managers and even caused a big fight with Grimes.

  • Musk also handed down eight CEO lessons to his brother Kimbal through the game.

Elon Musk has cited a host of video game and science fiction influences throughout his life — from Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" to the video game "Deus Ex."

A mobile strategy game called "The Battle of Polytopia" can now be added to the list. That's according to Walter Isaacson's new biography released on Tuesday, which detailed that the billionaire became obsessed with "Polytopia" in 2021.

In the game, players take on the role of tribes waging war with each other to conquer the world of "Polytopia." The game has been downloaded over 10 million times on the Google Play store since it was released in 2016.


Isaacson's book recounted two instances when Musk was so engrossed in the game that he once delayed a meeting with managers at Tesla's Berlin factory during a site visit, and even caused a fight with Grimes — whom he has three known children with.

Elon also played the game with his brother, Kimbal, as well as his ex-partner Grimes, and Shivon Zilis, a Neuralink director with whom Musk had twins, per the biography.

Kimbal told Isaacson he started playing the game to bond with his brother.

"He said it would teach me how to be a CEO like he was. We called them Polytopia Life Lessons," Kimbal added.

Here are the eight CEO lessons that Elon handed down to his brother through the game, per Isaacson's conversations with Elon, Kimbal, Grimes, and Zilis.

1. Empathy is not an asset

"He knows that I have an empathy gene, unlike him, and it has hurt me in business," Kimbal told Isaacson, "Polytopia taught me how he thinks when you remove empathy. When you're playing a video game, there is no empathy, right?"

2. Do not fear losing

"You will lose. It will hurt the first fifty times. When you get used to losing, you will play each game with less emotion," Elon told Isaacson.

3. Optimize every turn

"Like in Polytopia, you only get a set number of turns in life. If we let a few of them slide, we will never get to Mars," Elon told Isaacson.

2. Play life like a game

According to the book, Zilis once told Elon she has "this feeling that as a kid you were playing one of these strategy games and your mom unplugged it, and you just didn't notice, and you kept playing life as if it were that game."

5. Be proactive

Zilis told Isaacson she received this advice while playing the game with Musk. "I'm a little bit Canadian pacifist and reactive. My gameplay was a hundred percent reactive to what everyone else was doing, as opposed to thinking through my best strategy," she said.

6. Double down

Zilis further told Isaacson that Elon plays the game by pushing the edge of what's possible and that he's always doubling down and putting everything back in the game to grow.

"And it's just like he's just done his whole life," Zilis told Isaacson.

7. Pick your battles

Zilis also told Musk about not biting off more than he could chew in the game, per Isaacson's account.

"Dude, like, everyone's swiping at you right now, but if you swipe back at too many, you'll run out of resources," she told Musk.

8. Unplug at times

Kimbal, Zilis, and Grimes have since uninstalled the game — as did Elon for a time, according to Isaacson. Elon told Isaacson, "I had to take Polytopia off my phone because it was taking up too many brain cycles. I started dreaming about Polytopia."

Elon Musk and Kimbal Musk did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider, sent outside regular business hours.

Read the original article on Business Insider