"First of all, when Elon says something, you have to pause and not immediately blurt out, 'Well, that's impossible,' or, 'There's no way we're going to do that. I don't know how.' So you zip it, and you think about it, and you find ways to get that done," Shotwell said.

Max Hodak, CEO at Neuralink, where Musk is leading efforts to build a machine-brain interface to connect humans with computers, has had a similar experience.

"Elon has this incredible optimism, where he will pierce through these imagined constraints and show you that really a lot more is possible that you really think is today," Hodak said in 2019 at the California Academy of Sciences.

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