Richard Branson to Elon Musk: Go to sleep!

A few weeks ago the world became aware of Elon Musk’s astonishing work practices in a very revealing New York Times interview. Between his 120-hour work week and using Ambien as a frequent sleep aid,  the entrepreneur seemed to be half crying while talking to reporters. He also said he hasn’t taken a full week off work since 2001 and that was only because he had malaria.

And this was all before a number of lawsuits came rolling out in addition to a  $20 million fine from the Securities and Exchange Commission after he tweeted: on August 7 “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” Most experts believed this was an erroneous move, perhaps one made due to lack of sleep.

Clearly, Musk needs some help and guidance and who better to turn to than another brilliant billionaire in the space industry? In a new interview with CNBC Virgin CEO Richard Branson said of Musk, “I think he maybe needs to learn the art of delegation. He’s got to find time for himself, he’s got to find time for his health and for his family. He’s a wonderfully creative person, but he shouldn’t be getting very little sleep. He should find a fantastic team of people around him.”

Branson is correct in his advice. Musk does need to learn to delegate and not take everything on himself. He also needs to sleep more because his tiredness could be leading him to make bad decisions. It can also hurt creativity which is how Musk has become Musk.

Dr. Jacqui Grey, MD for the NeuroLeadership Institute Europe, told HR Review: “The Mad Men stereotype of boozy lunches and afternoon naps may not apply to most creative people today, but there is some method in the madness that businesses can take on board. Sleep deprivation kills creativity, it sinks startups every day and is a problem at most large creative organizations that ask us for help. Creativity needs a rested mind if it is to flourish.

“Sleep improves memory and helps us make connections. Taking a 20-minute nap or simply going offline for a short period of time each day provides the brain with vital breathing space and time to reinterpret problems. Thinking too hard about a problem can make it harder to solve and it is often better to let the mind wander and allow the brain’s unconscious processors to take over.”

So listen up Musk! Branson also had some more advice. “Don’t feel you have to put out tweets about public shareholders, leave the public game to people who enjoy that. He obviously doesn’t enjoy it, so [he should] clear the decks and concentrate on the creative side,” Branson said.

Meredith Lepore|is the Deputy Editor of Ladders and can be reached at mlepore@theladders.com.