Usefulness Formula: How Elon Musk Evaluates Ventures

Be As Useful as Possible: The Total Usefulness Formula by Elon Musk

In an interview with the founder of Y Combinator titled “How To Build The Future”, he casually breezed over his thought process about evaluating how useful your input to effect the future of humanity.  One take away from this, might be to think about your life as having the most useful effect on the world around you.

This is how he explains that he optimizes himself for being useful

“Whatever the thing is that you’re trying to create…What would be the utility delta compared to the current state of the art times how many people it would effect?”

The equation he mentioned was pondered by a long thread in Reddit and is best explained as follows:


X = (U – C) x P

X = Total Usefulness

U = Usefulness to 1 person

C = Comparable Items

P = Number of people effected

In other words, The total usefulness of your product, service or output is equal to the total usefulness to 1 person, minus any comparable items, times the number of people it would effect.

if you’re going to dedicate your life’s work to solving a problem, evaluating your mission with this equation might help you focus a little more.


Here is the complete interview video of Elon Musk by Y Combinator:

Elon Musk : How to Build the Future


elon musk usefulness equation

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