I take what I do seriously. I don't mind being wrong, but this is different. So, without any pressure from Musk, I decided to do the right thing, admit I was wrong and apologize. Thursday, Musk gave me the opportunity to do that during what turned into a 45-minute phone conversation. Short story even shorter: he graciously accepted my apology. And then we talked about a lot more, particularly pertaining to Tesla and the Model S. Musk said something that surprised me. I told him I didn't understand why he decided to introduce a special financing program last month. It seemed to me that, if demand among the affluent was high, why bother making the Model S more "affordable?"
Otherwise, the big thing I learned from our conversation: Don't allow the media to shape your perception of another person, particularly a celebrity. I have learned this dozens of times over in my 38 years. The media treats Musk as a spectacle. As the second coming of Steve Jobs. As a superhero. When I asked him about his celebrity, he was reluctant. Musk claimed that outside of Southern and Northern California, most of the rest of the country doesn't know who he is . . . or at least doesn't care quite as much. Talking to Musk is no different than talking to the baker or shoe cobbler down the street who is hyper-passionate about what he does. He's unassuming. Not even close to pretentious. He speaks about helping electrify motor vehicle transportation like the baker talks about making the perfect donut or the shoesmith discusses replacing the sole on a worn out pair of boots. Musk thinks Tesla can be the No. 1 electric vehicle maker, even when it enters the mass market and, presumably, competes with the likes of Ford ( F) or General Motors ( GM). But I do believe him when he tells me Tesla doesn't have to be No. 1 to be successful. And that he would be thrilled to see another automaker produce a better electric vehicle if that took the sector closer to mass adoption. I can't claim to have come away from my conversation with Musk knowing whether or not he's the next Steve Jobs. But I can confidently say this -- based on a mere 45 minutes of interaction -- I don't think he really cares. Follow @rocco_thestreet -- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.