If You Were Elon Musk, You’d Drink Whiskey And Smoke Pot Too

Tesla CEO Elon Musk smoking marijuana during a live YouTube webcast Sept. 6. (YouTube screenshot)

Let’s be honest. Can you think of anyone who could use a little time to kick back with a double and smoke a blunt these days more than Elon Musk?

I mean being a CEO, no matter the size of the company, is a tough gig. Payrolls to meet, numbers to hit, products to build, keeping customers happy, keeping your people going in the right direction. On average you work more than 60 hours a week, at least according to a recent HBR study. It’s lonely, grueling work and if you’re lucky you get a chance to see your family occasionally and maybe get in a quick round on Sunday.

Now imagine what it’s like if you’re also, on top of all of that, a world famous, narcissistic genius obsessed with cultivating your image as the Edison of the age. I mean come on. This is tough, rarefied stuff. Billionaire? Well, duh, of course. Built rockets that land themselves? Check. Catalyzed electric-car revolution and disrupted Detroit? Yup. Biggest battery plant on planet Earth. Check that box, too, please. Oh, and Twitter followers. Lots and lots and lots of Twitter followers.

Yet there you are, on top of the world, and you still find your Professor-X-like mind is a rogue parasite on your psyche, unable to control itself or its urges for what’s next. It’s been that way, you say, since you were a little kid. Just wound up. Rushing with ideas. You’ll not only make incredible electric vehicles, but now you’ll sell them for just $35,000 each! You’ll roll the dice on a fully robotic production line and then —f-it!—you’ll just put up tents and grab humans and somehow make the damn thing work when it fails! You’ll drill tunnels under Los Angeles, save children trapped in caves, roil the public markets with crazy tweets! You’ll take us to Mars, damnit!

And through it all, you have to battle “f**ing a**hole” reporters and non-believers who look at your numbers and wonder—out loud, damn them—how you’re gonna pull this rabbit out of a hat again. You’re up all night, night after night, working 120 hours a week. Friends are worried. Your board is worried. Tesla’s C-Suite has an uncanny echo that didn’t seem to be there just a couple weeks ago (was that a tumbleweed rolling through there?)

They’re all just so serious. Too serious. They just don’t get it. You’re not like other CEOs. You don’t run some business. You change the world. You’re Preston Tucker. You’re Howard Hughes. Damn, you’re Tony Stark. They all forget — this is what genius looks like. Didn’t they see the movies?

So yeah, come Thursday night you’re damn right it’s Miller Time. You’ve earned it. And yeah, when the cool podcast guy hands you a joint in the midst of a live two-hour episode of All About Elon, of course you go for it. Yes, you know—you know—the Internet’s going to go crazy. You know your board is going into Yet Another Special Weekend Conclave—if not outright convulsions—when they see this. You know the stock will fall, the haters will hate, the Tweeters will Tweet and the institutional shareholders with the billions on the line—well, does anyone have those smelling salts handy?

But that’s all part of the fun. And besides, you’re Elon Musk, and you know something that they don’t know.

You know that it doesn’t matter.

Because you’re Elon Musk.

You’ll make the car work, you’ll make the rocket fly, you’ll keep the headlines coming and they’ll all come along for the ride. They always have.

Because you’re Elon Musk.

And—at least so far—they’ve needed you at least as much as you need them.

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Dan Bigman :Dan Bigman is Editor and Chief Content Officer of Chief Executive Group, publishers of Chief Executive, Corporate Board Member, ChiefExecutive.net and Boardmember.com. Previously he was Managing Editor at Forbes and the founding business editor of NYTimes.com.