Elon Musk, CEO of billion dollars companies Tesla and SpaceX, and Chairman of Solar City, is often compared to the equals of Andrew Carnegie, John D Rockefeller, JP Morgan and Henry Ford, who helped shaped America in its early days. To those who are unaware of Elon Musk, let me share with you his journey from being an inquisitive child to one of the leading investors and greatest entrepreneur on earth.
Elon Musk, a South Africa-born Canadian-American left his native country South Africa at the age of 17. Over the past decade, he was able to carve out a brand identity amidst Silicon Valley technocrats like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and successfully built the largest technology empires through his vision and never-say-die attitude.
During the summer of 1995, and at the age of 24, he applied for Ph.D. in applied physics and material science at Stanford, but left college within two days of joining and decided to work in the areas of his interest, which included sustainable energy, solar space, and the internet.
In 1995, he founded a company called Zip2, a company that provided maps and business directories to online newspapers. The company was sold to Compaq for US$307 million in cash and US$34 million in stock options. He garnered worldwide attention when he founded a startup called X.com, an online financial service in 1999, Space X, an aerospace manufacturer, and space transport service in 2002, and pumped in money generated from previous startups in Tesla, incorporated in 2003.
Musk is a perfect example of contemporary visionaries as mentioned in Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich. Here are some powerful mantras that you can live by to achieve growth and success like Elon Musk:
Innovating is the only way to win
According to one of Musk’s friends, starting a business is like eating a glass and staring into the abyss of death. Which means that while starting up a company, many entrepreneurs get Shiny Object Syndrome. The enthusiasm in the beginning eventually slows down when one encounters the harsh realities of life. It’s important for an entrepreneur to create and innovate his/her product and make it better than competitors’ because, in the end, it’s the consumer who will buy the product they trust and value.
Work hard to get more
Hard work is what every single employee does at SpaceX and Tesla. Elon Musk, in his interviews, has mentioned most of the time that a person who works 100 hours a week than the person who works 60 hours has a greater advantage and assurance of completing a project faster than the other. The ideal SpaceX employee is someone like Steve Davis, the director of advanced projects, who works sixteen hours a day and gets more done than eleven people working together.
Before starting Zip2, Musk worked seven hours a day coding the software. He lived in the same warehouse where he rented the office, and when he needed to take a shower he had to go to locker rooms of a local stadium.
The point here is not to exhaust yourself, but to create definite goals and definite plans to accomplish the project within the timeline. Musk’s trajectory of success can be traced to when the thought of doing something of his interest (sending people to Mars and electric cars) occurred to him at an young age, which got fostered by a constant desire and imagination to make it a reality (Space X and Tesla) through planned action and critical management skill.
One notable story is that during subprime crisis in 2008, Tesla was almost on the verge of going bankrupt, but Musk decided to spent his entire wealth to revive the company from falling into a bottomless chasm. Tesla Motors, despite being unprofitable for 10 years, went for an IPO in 2010 and got listed on NASDAQ with US$17 per stock and attracted more than US$225 million of investments.
Master mind alliance
Elon Musk stated that he didn’t receive any college degree on aeronautic studies, but learned about rockets by reading books and consulting specialised intelligent individuals who previously made a name for themselves in the aerospace industry. These intellectual minds helped Musk create a Master Mind Group in both the companies.
What is to be noted over here is that Musk gained immense power by acquiring knowledge in diverse areas and hired skillful individuals who aligned themselves with the vision of Musk to create a unique product and a successful business.
Criticism is the price of ambition
Musk faced criticism from renowned Astronauts Neil Armstrong, who said the government’s plan to shift its crew-carrying burden to a private company can threaten United States’ dominance over spaceflight and exploration. But, Musk believed exactly the opposite. He wants to make America self-sufficient and reduce the nation’s dependency on other countries.
Despite the criticism by technocrats and bureaucrats, Musk hasn’t stopped himself from accomplishing the unprecedented feat. He has managed to instil faith and hope among his employees who in turn believe in his vision of making humans an interplanetary species.