CIO Briefing


Leadership Lessons from Elon Musk

By Quora // Quartz // September 17, 2015

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors Inc.
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors Inc. // Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

This post originally appeared on Quora.

After working for Elon for over five years at SpaceX as the head of talent acquisition, there are many potential answers to this question. Any answer I might give will be completely colored by my own experiences, so full disclaimer this is not an unbiased piece free of personal narrative.

It is said that you cannot dream yourself a character; you must hammer and forge one yourself. If any leader and any company has done that, and continues to do that it is SpaceX. To try and capture in words what working with Elon is like, I’d like to share some specific memories, particularly of one really rough day and its epic aftermath.

On August 2, 2008, eight months after I joined the company, SpaceX launched its third flight of the Falcon 1 launch vehicle. Falcon 1 was the predecessor to the Falcon 9 launch vehicles that the company flies today.

It was a defining moment for the company. Elon had a couple years prior stated in the press that his $100M personal investment in the company would get us up to three tries, and if we couldn’t be successful by the...

Why Scientists Make Bad Entrepreneurs—and How to Change That

By Akshat Rathi // Quartz // September 16, 2015

Alexander Raths/

Beyond the gifts of nature, we are surrounded by creations that came from science. Yet, scientists are rarely the ones who make money from the advances that shape our world. While Silicon Valley creates billionaires before they turn 30, no Nobel Laureate has ever become a billionaire.

Steve Blank, often called one of the godfathers of Silicon Valley, wants to change that. After being approached by the biggest science-funding body in the US—the National Science Foundation (NSF)—he launched a program to train scientists to become entrepreneurs.

Having trained 500 teams of scientists in the art of entrepreneurship, Blank is one of the best people to explain why scientists still don’t profit from their inventions. Quartz caught up to learn about about what most startups do wrong and how scientists can change the minds of venture capitalists. The following is an edited and condensed version of the conversation.

Quartz: Your work is the inspiration behind the Lean Startup method. What is it? How did it come about?

Steve Blank: I started working in Silicon Valley in the '70s, and entrepreneurship as we know it was relatively new. Before that, investors treated startups as nothing but a smaller version...

Americans Agree Computer Science Is Important—But Only One-Quarter of US Schools Teach it

By Brandon Busteed // Quartz // September 15, 2015

Students at Pacific Middle School in Des Moines, Wash., take part in the international Hour of Code project, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014.
Students at Pacific Middle School in Des Moines, Wash., take part in the international Hour of Code project, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014. // Ted S. Warren/AP

Gallup and Google just teamed up to conduct one of the most comprehensive studies of computer science education in schools. Interviewing nearly 16,000 7th- to 12th-grade students, parents, teachers, principals and superintendents, this study provides us with yet another painful reminder of how our education system is out of touch with and slow to respond to opportunities for our kids’ futures. Despite massive and growing demand to fill high-paying computer science jobs in all kinds of organizations and industries all over the world, a mere one in four principals in the US report offering computer programming or coding in their school. And as we argue about what should and shouldn’t be taught in US schools, it turns out we agree on at least one thing very clearly: Computer science should be taught. A surprising 85% of parents, 75% of teachers and 68% of principals say that computer science education is “just as important” or “more important” than teaching required courses like math, science, history and English.

Let’s rewind that finding and state it again for emphasis: The vast majority of parents, teachers and principals say computer science is just as important or more important than the core...

The 6 Key Ingredients of a Perfect Resume

By Quora // Quartz // August 31, 2015


This question originally appeared on QuoraWhat are the best formats for a resume? Answer by Gayle Laakmann McDowell, author of Cracking the Coding Interview

Just as the best product is the one that gets the job done, the best resumes are those that communicate your skills and accomplishments in a clear, effective way.

Graphical resumes are, in particular, terrible. Unless you can be one of the lucky few to get a bunch of media attention for a nifty format, you will hurt yourself far more than you’ll help yourself if you use a graphical resume. Graphical resumes are typically difficult to read and they sacrifice content — your hard-earned accomplishments — in favor of pretty pictures and useless graphics. See: Why Your Awesome, Creative Resume Isn’t Working.

A good resume format has the following attributes:

  • Multiple columns: Multiple columns make it easier for someone to quickly skim your company titles, positions, schools, and other key facts. It also stores this information in a very compact way, allowing more space to list things you’ve done. (Note: do not use one of those templates where the entire left part of the resume is a column for the categories. They waste...

Why NASA’s 20-Year-Old Astronaut Hiring Process Still Works Today

By Nate Regier // Quartz // August 27, 2015

U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly, crew member of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, gives a thumbs up prior the launch of a Soyuz-FG rocket.
U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly, crew member of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, gives a thumbs up prior the launch of a Soyuz-FG rocket. // Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

In 1978, NASA was just beginning its space shuttle program and Dr. Terry McGuire was responsible for assessing the psychological fitness of astronauts in preparation for NASA missions. It was a daunting task. Putting several extremely talented, smart and confident people into space together requires the ultimate in teamwork, physical and mental toughness, and psychological agility. McGuire’s key concern was an astronaut’s ability to manage his emotions, communicate effectively with others and handle stress.

It was during this time that McGuire was introduced to Dr. Taibi Kahler, a psychologist from Hot Springs, Arkansas who had discovered a process to assess human interactions second by second and determine the productivity of the communication.

Kahler sat in on several neuropsychological assessment interviews as part of the astronaut selection cycle. About 10 minutes into each one, he would make some notes on a piece of paper and place it on the floor. Several hours later, when McGuire had concluded his testing and interview, he and Kahler would compare notes. Kahler’s assessments after just 10 minutes of observation aligned with McGuire’s with astounding consistency and predicted how the rest of the interview would play out with eerie accuracy.

McGuire and...