Breakfast of champions

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Tech rather than toast was on the breakfast agenda at the Boao Forum in Hainan at the end of last month, when Tesla’s Elon Musk, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Baidu boss Robin Li met for an early morning session about technology and innovation.

Li served as moderator for the event, choosing questions from more than 500 queries raised by users of a Baidu forum. Unsurprisingly he kept things nice and cheerful, avoiding mention of the ongoing investigation into Microsoft’s Chinese tax affairs, and choosing not to quiz Musk on how Tesla can get closer to its sales targets in China.

Instead, The reports that Musk was asked whether radical thinking or hands-on management is more important for an entrepreneur to achieve success.

“I create a vision, and then I start solving problems,” Musk responded. “Tesla Motors was very difficult at first, and a lot of people said that only fools try to make electric vehicles. But as long as there is even a 10% chance of success, I will try.”

Musk also predicted large-scale production of cars with a driverless option within the next five years. Li chose to keep quiet on the topic, although Baidu is developing self-driving technology that is expected to trial on highways by the end of the year.

Gates and Musk also talked about how their careers had developed, citing a love of reading as an important factor. “I think reading is better than dialogue. When you have spare time, spend it reading. Now I can finish 10 lines in one glance,” Musk said.

“People always have limitations, and reading is the best way to break these limitations,” Gates added.

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