Elon Musk’s Meeting Rules, Analyzed

You don’t become the richest man in the world by sitting in meetings all day. Here are Elon Musk’s three rules for meetings.
Matthew Ritchie
August 25, 2023
7 minute read

There’s hardcore, and then there’s extremely hardcore.

SpaceX founder, Tesla CEO, and Twitter X owner Elon Musk is notorious for his high-intensity and no-holds-barred approach to business management.

As a former employee once said: “You don’t get to where Elon is now by always being a nice guy.”

Or, as it turns out, always attending meetings.

“Meetings are what happens when people aren’t working,” Musk reportedly told GQ in a 2008 profile.

Ten years later, his viewpoint hadn’t changed.

In a leaked email sent to Tesla employees in 2018, Musk shared his recommendations for increasing productivity. 

The letter, now commonly referred to as “Elon Musk’s 6 Rules for Productivity,” instantly gained notoriety online for his common sense tips and straightforward (although maybe not socially acceptable) rules about meetings.

Although none of Musk’s meeting rules are particularly groundbreaking, they’re so simple and easy to do that it’s hard to believe more business leaders aren’t following them.

Here are Elon Musk’s 3 Rules for Meetings (Adapted From Elon Musk's 6 Rules for Productivity)

1. Avoid Large Meetings

Size matters, especially to Elon Musk. But even he agrees that bigger isn’t always better.

“Excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time,” he writes in his six rules for productivity. “Get rid of all large meetings, unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case keep them very short.”

As we’ve previously written, people preferring smaller meeting sizes isn’t exactly new.

In 2018, Robert Sutton, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University, looked at research on the ideal meeting size. 

He determined that each meeting should have at most eight attendees. Any more and the meeting wouldn’t be productive.

Why? Smaller meeting sizes lead to more meaningful and candid discussions. 

“Fewer people means more time to listen to and consider the perspective of each team member,” writes Paul Axtell, who studied the findings in the Harvard Business Review. “Clarity and candor emerge. Alignment follows.”

His advice: 

  • Think about the goal of the meeting: To make sure you have the right people in the room, you have to know what you’re going to talk about. 
  • Set a clear agenda. Make sure you’ve allotted each topic of discussion enough time. 
  • Ask yourself: Who needs to be there? If someone couldn’t attend, would you cancel the meeting? That’s who needs to be there.

Start from there and only add more people if you think they’d add value or benefit from being in the meeting.

2. Get Rid of Frequent Meetings

Before the pandemic, 71% of managers said most meetings were unproductive, and the number of weekly meetings has only increased since then. 

Last year, MIT reported that the average knowledge worker typically spends more than 85% of their time in meetings.

Musk’s advice: get rid of them.

“Get rid of frequent meetings, unless you are dealing with an extremely urgent matter,” he writes.

Easier said than done, right?


But more companies—like Facebook and Atlassian—are experimenting with meeting-free days, and earlier this year, Shopify used a bot to go into employee’s calendars and purge any recurring meeting with more than four people, restoring 322,000 hours of company time.

The science behind it speaks for itself.

MIT says that 1,000+ person companies that introduced one no-meeting day per week increased autonomy, communication, engagement, job satisfaction, and productivity.

Still not feeling productive?

3. Leave Meetings If You Aren’t Providing Value

“Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value,” Musk writes in his final point about Tesla’s meeting rules. “It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.”

Musk practices what he preaches. 

The SpaceX founder famously stormed out of a meeting when a group of Russians thought he wasn’t serious about buying a pair of rockets, and he once ended a meeting a few minutes after it began when he found out a salesman had traveled four hours just to introduce himself.

But, let’s be serious: This one is probably the least socially acceptable of all of Elon Musk’s meeting rules.

Not everyone feels comfortable standing up and walking out of a meeting or hanging up on a Zoom call, even if they feel like they aren’t contributing that much.

That’s why Forbes suggests being a bit more proactive:

  • Convert meetings to an asynchronous format for status updates, quick questions, or anything that requires feedback from multiple people
  • Decline unnecessary meetings or, if you’re only needed for part of a meeting, let the organizer know you’ll drop out once you’re done contributing
  • Get someone to attend on your behalf to keep track of everything that gets discussed

Just don’t forget to ask them to take notes

Want to learn more? Find out how four tech CEOs famously ran their meetings and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s top productivity tips.

Want to take your meeting productivity to the next level? Download Bloks.

Whether you’re a sales superstar, in-demand consultant, busy recruiter, or someone who simply needs to schedule a lot of meetings, one thing’s for sure—you’ve probably booked a lot of them over the past two years.

Hybrid work has forced the majority of our meetings online, and while we appreciate being able to wear sweatpants during normal work hours, the time-consuming ballet that is sharing your availability, finding a time to meet, and adding it to your calendar isn’t quite as enjoyable. 

Speaking with everyone from solopreneurs to seasoned professionals, it seems like a lot of people find meeting scheduling software either costly, impersonal, or just plain boring. And Calendly and other alternatives don’t always cut it.

We hear you. 

Everyone is different, and so is how they work. Making good first impressions is important, and you shouldn’t have to pay a premium for them or basic customizations and integrations with your meeting booking system.

Nook Calendar’s meeting proposal feature is already used by tons of high-performing teams for selecting and proposing meeting times outside of their organization. 

Now, we’re making things even easier by letting you build personal pages with shareable calendar-booking links, right in Nook Calendar. Add them to your LinkedIn profile, email signature, website, or messages when finding a time to meet.

We think it’s the best meeting scheduling software out there, and we’re excited for you to give it a try, so let’s get started.

Here’s How to Set Up a Personal Booking Page in Nook Calendar

First off, if you’re new to Nook Calendar—hello! (If you’re already a Nook user, you can skip ahead.)

You’re going to start by syncing your calendar—either from Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook—and entering your work email address.

Once you approve any necessary permissions, you’ll set up your People Bar. Search for any connections and add the people you interact with the most when scheduling meetings.

From there, you can add any additional calendars you want to see (add your personal one, if you like, to further prevent any overlaps when scheduling meetings), integrate with Zoom (so you can launch calls straight from your calendar), and choose your preferred display setting—select Match OS, Light Mode, or Dark Mode.

Launch Nook Calendar, and you’re ready to set up your online meeting scheduler.

Now, the fun begins

You’re going to start by claiming your unique URL for sharing your meeting availability page. 

Your first name appears by default, but really, it can be anything. We recommend using your full name (e.g., /john-smith).

(You can always change your URL in the future, as long as it’s still available.)

From there, you want to complete your profile. 

Your profile pic is automatically pulled in from your Microsoft or GCal account.

But you can add your name, job title, welcome message, and links to social media profiles or professional website, so guests know a bit more about you when booking a meeting. 

Then, you can start setting your weekly availability.

Nook Calendar defaults to traditional time blocks—9–12 a.m. and 1–5 p.m. These are the hours someone can book a meeting from your personal page. Adjust them based on your availability. 

Your timezone is automatically set to your local time, but you can change it if you primarily work with people in a different timezone and it’s better to visualize that when setting your availability.

Choose which calendar you want to accept meetings in—it can only be booked in one, but Nook Calendar will automatically reference your availability in other calendars you’ve synced to prevent double-bookings when someone schedules a meeting.

Now, it’s time to set up some paramaters. 

You can set up your preferred meeting duration in either 15, 30, 45-minute or one-hour increments (or a custom time).

You can also add buffer time to give yourself a break between meetings, or set a lead time of up to 24 hours, so no one can book any last-minute meetings.

And you’re all set! You can preview what the page will look like, then share it with contacts or add it to your LinkedIn profile (we suggest adding it as a secondary URL), email signature, and anywhere else you do business.

Once someone books time in your calendar, you’ll receive an email and get a notification in the Pulse.

If you ever need to make any changes, you can access your personal meeting page in the bottom of the Magic Panel and make any adjustments—either to your weekly availability or personal information.

You can also remove your availability by simply creating events in Nook Calendar and marking them as Busy to block off time and prevent any bookings.

Nook Calendar’s new personal pages for sharing meeting availability are available on Web, iOS, and Android. 
If you have any questions or thoughts, we’d love to hear them. Hit us up in our Slack Community or contact us through Support.