Meeting Elon Musk is a dream of mine. I hope to meet him one day — shake his hand and say thank you–thank you for the kindness you’ve given me this last year. The moment he reached out and helped me is one of those moments in life that will be forever memorable to me — a moment that arrived during a time when I was lost and trying to understand why things happened the way they happened. Sometimes life hits us hard and it breaks us into millions of fragments that reflect pieces of illusions of who we thought we were. It is in those spaces between fragments where these moments happen that will forever alter us by reminding us that we matter.
For me, what I’ve found in those spaces was not only Elon’s kindness, but the friendships I’d begun to make with several people in the SpaceX community, then later on in the Tesla community. I’ve seen several of these online friends have similar positive experiences online with Elon. Seeing others realize one of their dreams is like watching something beautiful blossom into being. Your heart races, you feel their excitement, and you know it’s true. It happened. They got to experience the rush of something amazing happening to them — something that deep down inside they may have doubted would happen as fast as the speed of light racing through the stars to reflect your joy in your eyes and smile.
For a couple of my online friends, this event happened on Saturday, September 28, 2019. They got to shake the hand of someone they admire: Elon Musk. This is a memorable experience that they will treasure for the rest of their lives. Seeing people I interact with on a day-to-day basis get to actually meet Elon Musk made my heart soar. Their sheer joy and delight was something I shared with them. Millions of people hope to meet Elon Musk one day. I am in that number.
I decided to briefly interview a handful of people who have met Elon in person to ask them a little bit more about those experiences, and also share the tweets of some of these fans. Let’s start with the tweets.
Meeting Elon Musk
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo is well known in her support of SpaceX. She has been documenting the journeys of both Starship and Starhopper since January 1st, 2019. When Elon spoke of doing a presentation in Texas, it was Evelyn who encouraged him to choose Boca Chica as the place to hold the presentation.
Got to see #Starship under construction today!@SpaceX wants to send humans to the Moon & Mars, they are building Starship to complete the mission. The first hopper test launch will take place in Boca Chica (Brownsville, Texas) around March/April of this year. #BFR #HappyNewYear pic.twitter.com/pfdXudLO28
— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo (@JaneidyEve) January 2, 2019
She asked Elon on Twitter to make the event there and made a very convincing list of reasons why, which included a note that local supporters have been so excited documenting Starship’s progress.
Very convincing! Ok, Boca it is. We should have Starship Mk1 with 3 Raptors almost ready to fly by then.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 4, 2019
Evelyn not only convinced him, but Elon also invited her as a guest to the Starship Presentation, where she thanked him.
— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo (@JaneidyEve) September 29, 2019
Gene from South Padre Isle
Unreal night Elon, so great to meet you and thanks for making this an incredibly special night and for everything you do!!! And yeah I really do want to take you and your kids surfing soon! @elonmusk @SpaceX pic.twitter.com/0Sz0nqn4wI
— SpacePadre (@SpacePadreIsle) September 29, 2019
SpacePadreIsle is an account on Twitter run by someone named Gene who grew up surfing and fishing in Boca Chica. When I asked Gene what meeting Elon Musk was like, he said it was a total surprise.
“I never imagined I’d meet him. But suddenly there’s a freakin’ rocket on my beach!!! Why would he invite me?? Not just an invite but a surprise VIP invite? I was in tears. This tells you something about this man. I’m a freakin’ peasant and he spoke to me as a friend. I think everyone has their own struggles. I certainly have and had mine. But to be treated that way was so healing. Here’s the deal, he made me feel like family, not just him but everyone that’s behind him. I lost my family but now I have a new one and I’m over the moon.”
It was the greatest honor to be able to have met you , thank you so much for giving me the opportunity. Being able to have geeked out with you was the best, Live long and prosper my friend.
— Austin Barnard🚀 (@austinbarnard45) September 29, 2019
Austin Barnard is from Boca Chica and his SpaceX photos are well known. When I asked him what it was like meeting Elon Musk, he told me:
“Honestly, I felt like it wasn’t real at all. I felt like, when I turned the corner and saw him for the first time, my heart went BOOM! But at the same time, I was trying to keep myself real calm. Being able to meet him and talk to him, he is the generous kindhearted sweet individual you could ever meet. Hearing him talk is one thing, but when you actually meet him in person. You feel like the hope and joy in the world are there and there is a beautiful future coming. That’s how powerful he radiates his energy and it’s so amazing. Honestly, he’s a one of a kind man. He’s sweet, compassionate, he’s awesome. He’s the best. I am honestly excited for what the future has in store for us.”
In writing this article, I wanted to also include a few others who have met Elon Musk at different events and include their thoughts as well. The reason why is because I wanted to capture an image of a leader from the eyes of many who have met him. I want to paint the moment of meeting him with words.
Reflections Of Others
“The part that so many stories about him miss is that there can be a kindness about him. Not weakness. But a kindness.” —Bonnie Norman.
“He’s quite tall but really friendly and enjoys intelligent banter. I really liked him and wasn’t trying to be his friend when I met him. We had a nice discussion on the pros and cons of his tweets. He was definitely engaged and we had a nice talk. He did seem like he genuinely cared about where us investors were at with him. He also was open to my suggestions, which at the time included raising money. Ironically, he did the next week. I liked him and felt he really cared about doing the right thing and Tesla. He’s also stunningly intelligent — that you can tell instantly. And funny. We’re a bit similar with weird humor and taboos. For how serious many things are. He has a great positive vibe.” —Ross Gerber, Gerber Kawasaki.
“Elon is even cooler in real life. Friendly, smart AF, listens to feedback and REALLY CARES about what he is doing. I’ve never met an executive who understands their business & technology so well. He is truly in a class of his own as a world-changing entrepreneur & also someone who would be a lot of fun to have a beer with at a party. This balance makes him my hero.” —Gali, Hyperchange.
“I got to talk to him about The Adventures of Starman which was mind-blowing for me. He had seen it but didn’t know who was behind it. He’d said, ‘Oh that was you’. The overall take I had talking to him and watching others talk to him and watching him interact is that he really is an empathic guy who really cares about people. He came across as someone who wants to help.” —Eli Burton.
Eli also told me this was the time when Elon signed a copy of the comic series he wrote, The Adventures of Starman.
“He is genuinely a human who cares deeply about other humans. That is an impression I got quickly in a super brief in-person meeting with him. Perhaps I was biased by feeling that was clear beforehand, but I think it’s interesting and revealing that that’s one of the top things that popped out to me in the brief meeting. His care for others comes out in even such a situation. I think it is also a top thing that critics misunderstand about him, and I genuinely can’t understand how they miss it when it’s such a core part of who Elon is. Additionally, I think it’s just clear that he’s a ‘man of the people.’ Some big-time corporate CEOs may try to put on a ‘man of the people’ or ‘woman of the people’ look from time to time for PR purposes, but I think Elon can’t even fake it in the other direction — he’s down to earth (ironically) in his interactions and person-to-person interests, open and caring, candid, and I think just wants to show he’s happy to be your buddy, if you’re not a douche.” —Zach Shahan, CleanTechnica.
These stories will not only be cherished by those who experienced them, but they also reflect the hope that there are good people out there like Elon Musk who care about our world and our humanity. Many people look at celebrities as people they may never ever get to meet. Although Elon is a celebrity, we often forget that he is a human being as well. But every one of us has hopes, dreams, fears, and doubts.
We all struggle to focus on our goals and hope our fears don’t overtake us. Elon is a symbol of hope and success despite obstacles that surround him. He never gave up on his dreams. This is what inspired me back in 2018 to write that open letter thanking him for never giving up. Elon gives those of us who believe in him hope — hope that we, too, can make a difference. Hope that we can find the strength to face our fears and doubts head-on, and be able to brush ourselves off if we do fall. Most of society thinks that failure is an ultimate death sentence. You are a bad person if you fail. So many never try because they don’t want to be perceived as a failure, not realizing it is needed to test and motivate yourself to keep believing.
The story of this article was one painted with the stories of people who met Elon Musk, someone who will go down in history as one of the most brilliant minds in engineering. We don’t have that many stories about what Socrates, Plato, Nostradamus, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, was like because they were not as interactive with people through social media like Elon Musk is. One hundred years from now, these moments will be preserved for future generations to learn and imagine what it must have been like to live in our time and meet someone like Elon. Meeting Elon Musk is more possible for us than the possibility of a random fan living in the time of an ancient king, queen, or leader of the past.
The portrait painted by these stories reveals a man who cares about his world and fellow humans. It is that of a man who treats you as if you are his friend. Despite all odds, he keeps going and believes in himself even when others do not–a lesson many of us can learn from as we struggle with our self-esteem and doubts. Whenever your fears seem daunting and anxiety seems to consume the very essence of your soul, think about these individuals, their stories, and never give up. Speaking of never giving up, Elon, if you’re reading this and find yourself in Baton Rouge someday, I’ll treat you to some beignets and café au lait at a local cafe here. Just don’t wear black — or if you do, have a backup outfit.