Category Archives: Gwynne Shotwell

Gwynne Shotwell, President & COO, SpaceX: “Couple Bits of Advice”

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  1. You will have detractors, don’t pay attention to them. I mean, maybe, if there’s a little bit of truth, go fix it. But in general don’t pay attention. And you’ll find that some of the detractors will actually get very personal, and it’s painful, it’s certainly very painful for women to see that in press. But, don’t pay any attention to it.
  2. You can’t control whether you’re the smartest person in the room but you can certainly control whether you’re the most prepared.
  3. If every year you’re not getting better – you personally, you your company – you’re probably getting worse. Because things don’t tend to stay static.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 6.46.12 PMWE ♡ GWYNNE!

ForaTV: Gwynne Shotwell

Gwynne: “We’re working on the vehicles – some of the architectures for the vehicles right now – we should have some big engines on stands in a couple of years and hopefully we’ll land some folks in thirteen, fifteen years.”
We’re talking ordinary people?
Gwynne: “Explorers. But more ordinary than current astronauts, that’s for sure. Lot’s of engineers.”
Engineers with an interest in space but who maybe didn’t train to be an astronaut.
Gwynne: “Well you know once you land on Mars space isn’t that important – now you’ve got a planet, you’ve to make it livable, um, one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard Elon say was that Mars was a fixer upper planet. Um. There’s a lot of work to do, there’s no atmosphere, ah, you’re going to hafta mine the water. […] I’m a mechanical engineer I don’t know how to build atmospheres, but, ah, I’m willing to look into it. Um, so, we have to build atmosphere, we have to figure out how to protect humans from radiation. […] It seems really a shame that the human species – that humans – that we’re done. That Earth is it. And I’m not saying that there aren’t things to explore and learn here. I think we can learn much more about our physical selves, or mental selves. We can learn more about um, life in the oceans. But, seems like you gotta find a new boundary to go take over, and pass, pass through. So there’s that piece: humans are – kinda the philosophical, humans are – we’re differentiated because we want to explore and learn new things. Um, and the other thing that’s fundamental it’s risk management. Something will happen, on Earth, to cause, a calamity. Now is it in two years? Probably not. Is it in a hundred years? Maybe not. But certainly within the next millennium, ah, something will happen and I think it’s really important for humans to have an alternative. -Now that’s the crazy talk by the way – that’s when you lose people at the restaurant, they’re not paying attention, they’re like, ‘Ooo don’t give her another chardonnay. She’s done.'”

Gwynne Shotwell and Franklin Leonard talk creativity

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 12.50.35 AMKai Ryssdal: These guys have checklists – I mean they are engineers, so, they think like “this”…does that impede you as you get them to think, listen, we need to figure out a way to…ah…make this rocket forty seven pounds lighter?

Gwynne: Actually engineers are incredibly creative people. I mean that’s what engineering is.


Kai Ryssdal: There you go. That’ll show me.

Gwynne: We have a house full of engineers, how awesome. I don’t feel like I’ve ever had to push my team to think of bigger and better things – that’s kinda what they do naturally. Engineers are driven to do things better. Really to the point of being annoying a lot of times actually.

Kai Ryssdal: [giggles]: I’m not hearing a lot of applause for that by the way.

Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX

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Why Mars? From two perspectives I think it’s important…um…exploration is really what separates humans from, from other living, moving “species” and, if, we decide that where we are today is “it”…um – I’m not saying there aren’t things to learn about here on Earth – but it just seems kind of like a big disappointment, that, we’d say “okay we’re here, this is it, we’re done” – you know “let’s just…hang in there, till then end”. Um, it just seems like a not very inspirational, ah, outlook and perspective. And the other piece – which is the scary piece – and um, it’s really risk management. For humans. The uh…I think the probability of a significant event happening on Earth is – is very high. Ah, or – ’scuse – when will it happen? I don’t know when it will happen but I’m pretty certain there will be a catastrophic event and ah it would be nice to have humans living in more than one spot. Um…yeah…I think that’s important. It’s risk management for humans.

Gwynnagain: “I am a cheerleader for anyone who wants to be an engineer”

“I am a cheerleader for anyone who wants to be an engineer. I think everybody should be an engineer or at least get an engineering background – even if you don’t work professionally as an engineer, I think it provides such an extraordinary problem solving ability. So I cheerlead for anyone. We continue to give to the Frank J. Redd Student scholarship competition – I don’t manage that anymore – I speak at high schools, grade schools, and universities, to encourage people who would never consider being engineers to become engineers. I think it is just something that will create a much better world if more people focus on being engineers – or physicists.”

Gwynne Shotwell is the President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX

Gwynnagain: “Our Focus is Mars”


“Our focus is Mars. You know, getting back to the moon will be really hard. And we’re afraid that, if we focus as a nation on getting back to the moon – when we should be focused on doing somewhere beyond where we’ve gone before – that, you end up spending so much money on that hard problem, that, you severely delay solving what we consider should be the focus of the root of the problem we should be looking at. And that is getting to Mars. So, we consider it [the moon] more of a distraction if we’re talking about a national program.”

Gwynne Shotwell is the President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX


MAKERS 2014 Conference

via RE/CODE: “Spending on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education in public education about equals what we spend on beer. Not beer and pizza. Not beer and wine. Beer,” Gwynne Shotwell said on Tuesday, speaking onstage at the first Makers Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we dropped five points in the last 15-year-olds’ math and science test.”

“I want to see my children go to Mars. And I’d love to see my grandchildren go to other galaxies,” said Shotwell, who admitted that she became an engineer because she saw one speak and liked her suit and shoes. “I actually feared telling this story for years, but I’m 50 now, so I can do whatever I want.”