Elon Musk surpassed Bill Gates as the second richest man on the planet last month. Pundits anticipate that he will overtake Jeff Bezos as the most powerful person in the world this year, according to Forbes. So, what’s his winning formula? I spent an hour with him a few years ago talking about just this.
It’s not about how much money you have
In 2014, when I asked him how wealthy he was, he responded he had no idea. He said, “It’s not like there’s a pile of money there.” It’s simply that I own a certain amount of Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity shares, and the market values those votes.”
He doesn’t mind the pursuit of wealth “if it’s done in a good way,” but it doesn’t excite him.
Musk, who turns 50 this year, though, expects to be a billionaire before he passes away. He believes the majority of the funds will be spent on constructing a base and does not rule out the possibility that the project will consume his whole fortune.
Think large and don’t be scared to use your imagination
The audacity of Musk’s businesses is one of the most outstanding features of his company. He wants to colonize Mars and overhaul the automobile industry. Build superfast trains in vacuum tunnels, integrate Al into human brains, and completely disrupt the solar and battery sectors.
There is a common thread running across all of this. All of his creations are futuristic dreams that you could discover in a children’s magazine from the early 1980s. Musk is open about how books and movies he read as a child in South Africa inspired him.
In most firms’ incentive structures, he says, low ambition is baked in. He believes that too many firms are “incrementalist.” “If you’re the CEO of a large corporation, a moderate improvement is what you should aim for. Nobody will blame you if it takes longer than intended or doesn’t turn out as planned, he said. It wasn’t my fault, you might say. Suppliers were to blame.
Mr Musk claims that if you are courageous and try a truly revolutionary innovation and it fails, you will almost certainly be fired. This, he claims, is why most companies prefer to make minor tweaks to their existing goods rather than taking the risk of creating wholly new ones. As a result, his suggestion is to focus on what he refers to as “things that matters.”
Follow your dreams. (Success)
Musk’s Mars base provides a hint as to what he believes is the key to his success. “You want things to be better in the future,” he explained. “You desire these fresh and exciting items that will improve your life.”
Take, for example, SpaceX. He told me he started the company because he was disappointed with the US space program’s lack of ambition.
“I kept expecting us to go beyond Earth, to place a person on Mars, and to establish a lunar outpost. and, you know, have a lot more flights to orbit, “he stated
When it failed to materialize, he devised the “Mars Oasis Mission,” which planned to transport a miniature greenhouse to Mars. The goal was to reawaken public interest in space exploration and encourage the US government to increase Nasa’s funding.
He concluded the difficulty wasn’t “a lack of will, but rather a lack of way” – space technology was significantly more expensive than it needed to be while attempting to get something off the ground.
And there you have it! It was the start of the world’s cheapest rocket-launching enterprise.
Musk told me that he sees himself as an engineer rather than an investor, and that solving technological challenges is what gets him up in the morning.
Don’t be scared to think large when it comes to your ideas.