Brash Jobs: The Elon Musk Way to Succeed in the Library Industry

Hey Friends!

So last week on April 30th, billionaire entrepreneur/genius/green energy philanthropist Elon Musk unveiled the new Tesla Energy Powerwall, a new series of batteries based on the batteries that currently power Tesla Motors vehicles. Instead of cars, however, these batteries can power homes, businesses, and even purposed for public utility use. Business Insider is calling it “the beginning of the end for fossil fuels”.

If you’re thinking “wait, I’m still a little fuzzy on this Elon Musk guy”, then let’s bring you up to speed:

  • Musk is the co-founder of Paypal, (which you’ve probably used at some point)
  • Co-founder, CEO and product architect of electric car company Tesla Motors
  • Founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, which designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft
  • Chairman of SolarCity, an energy company in California that specializes in solar panels, electric vehicles and charging stations
  • Taught himself computer programming at age 12

Basically, he’s the real-life Tony Stark. Speaking of which, Musk took the fictional interactive gesture interface from the Iron Man films and made it real.

Seriously, this guy could build an Iron Man suit.


“But Justin, what does this have to do with libraries?”

I’m getting there, hang on.

Justine Musk (ex-wife of Elon Musk) recently gave advice on how to become a billionaire on the question/answer website Quora. Being married to a guy like that nearly a decade, she’s seen what somebody has to do to become a billionaire. I’ll focus on specific parts, but you can read the whole thing here. Someone asked:

 “Will I become a billionaire if I am determined to be one and put in the necessary work required?”

Justine’s reply?


One of the many qualities that separate self-made billionaires from the rest of us is their ability to ask the right questions.

This is not the right question.

You’re determined. So what? You haven’t been racing naked through shark-infested waters yet. Will you be just as determined when you wash up on some deserted island, disoriented and bloody and ragged and beaten and staring into the horizon with no sign of rescue?

We live in a culture that celebrates determination and hard work, but understand…Determination and hard work are necessary, yes, but they are the minimum requirements. As in: the bare minimum.

A lot of people work extremely hard and through no fault of their own — bad luck, the wrong environment, unfortunate circumstances — struggle to survive.

Ask yourself what you have the potential to offer that is so unique and compelling and helpful that no computer could replace you, no one could outsource you, no one could steal your product and make it better and then club you into oblivion (not literally). Then develop that potential. Choose one thing and become a master of it.  Choose a second thing and become a master of that.  When you become a master of two worlds (say, engineering and business), you can bring them together in a way that will a) introduce hot ideas to each other, so they can have idea sex and make idea babies that no one has seen before and b) create a competitive advantage because you can move between worlds, speak both languages, connect the tribes, mash the elements to spark fresh creative insight until you wake up with the epiphany that changes your life.

There is no road map, no blueprint for this; a lot of people will give you a lot of advice, and most of it will be bad, and a lot of it will be good and sound but you’ll have to figure out how it doesn’t apply to you because you’re coming from an unexpected angle. And you’ll be doing it alone, until you develop the charisma and credibility to attract the talent you need to come with you.”

While nobody enters the library industry to become a billionaire, I think Justine touched upon some very important tips to bring out the best in anyone. To me, the most important part is developing your potential – becoming a master of two things and merging them together. I’m pretty sure Justine would tell the average librarian, “Sure, you’re a librarian…so what?” and then tell you to combine it with another skill and become something rare that a library needs. For me, I would want master a few:

  • Libraries
  • Business/business management
  • Technology (especially social media)

I always try to tackle problems from a unique angle and find solutions for everyone – a good example would be when I was a manager at Putnam County Library System and founded a partnership with the Florida Department for Children and Families (DCF). DCF now has a presence in every library branch in Putnam County, FL, and the library got over a dozen laptops and desktops donated to them…everybody won FOR FREE! Would I be good in management? I’d certainly like to think so. Perhaps my future has “MLS/MBA” written on it.

The other duo I’m working on on would be libraries and social media, mostly for Brash Librarian. Sure, I want to climb the ladder in the library industry and create new things nobody has seen before, but I want to share that with everyone in and out of the library world. Out of all the people reading this, I want millennials to see it most of all. The average age for entering the library is 36; One of the goals for BL is to develop/master those talents while building the charisma and credibility needed to pull in younger adults and breathe new life into the library world.

Maybe the next phase will be merging all three and using social media to promote libraries for money? It’s not revolutionary, but it’s a starter idea baby.

…Yes, I want to be Elon Musk/Tony Stark. But for libraries.

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get all the Brashness!


Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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