Elon Musk unveils the Model X sport utility vehicle (SUV) during an event in Fremont, Calif. on Sept. 29, 2015.
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Elon Musk has had a futuristic mindset since he was a young boy, when he sold his first software — a game called Blastar — at age 11.

He went on to found and sell a startup to Compaq for $300 million in 1999, and parlayed that into a major stake in PayPal, which eBay bought for $1.5 billion in 2002.

He then got into three world-changing companies: Tesla, SpaceX, and Solar City. And though Tesla and SpaceX nearly went bankrupt, each company is now shifting its respective industry.

Yet Musk — with his 100-hour workweeks, estimated $13 billion net worth, and habit of never taking a note in meetings — remains enigmatic. So we went looking for clues to his vision, goals, and thinking process.

Here’s what we found.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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