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Shihao Cao

Shihao Cao

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I find myself hanging onto a few quotes and principles, this is my attempt to organize all of them. One day, I’ll figure out what I stand for haha.


  • If it's guaranteed, it's guaranteed to fail
    • I kinda made this one up, it’s a sort of manifestation of the “complacency is the only enemy”
    • Every time I thought I had something in the bag, it was because I didn’t know enough about the ways that it could fail
  • Go where your people are
    • I’ve tried optimizing my life for materialistic things, and it kinda just sucks. All of it boils back down to a Faustian Bargain
  • The biggest risk we face is the risk of not living a fulfilling life (not the risk of failure)
    • Heard this from John Koelliker, at Contrary Retreat 2022


  • Ideas are useless, execution is everything.
  • All motivation issues stem from a lack of value provided by the work being done
    • A more nuanced case is that the value is not being perceived
  • Plans are worthless, planning is everything
    • This was the first line on my onboarding page at SpaceX manufacturing
    • My manager had a copy of The Toyota Way on his desk haha, great man
  • You have to seek feedback!
    • You don’t know what you don’t know
  • Complacency is the only enemy
    • One of the many phrases that Elon would frequently repeat at work
  • It is 10x harder to build the machine that builds the machine
    • It’s 100x harder to build the team that builds the machine that builds the machine
    • Invest in your people :)
  • Everything always wants to be a high-volume product
    • Even the lowest volume things (like rockets) actually would love to be high volume. More rockets mean more test articles mean safer rockets.
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