from Forbes Zine 15 May 15 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
How does Elon Musk do it? We calculat that the 41-year-old CEO of Tesla Motors has built a $15B business by running the most innovative car company in the world + his other business interests (SpaceX & Solar City) – have plenty of sizzle, too. A new biography provides a wealth of insights about how this tech titan operates.
Really good Biographies stand out in two ways. First, they provide lots of zesty stories that haven’t been told before. Beyond that, they explain all the zigzags and secret clues of a prominent person’s life, in a way that makes the total picture come into focus. If you’d rather dig deeper — and figure out what parts of Musk’s playbook could help you – with your big ambitions in the tech sector — here are 6 takeaway messages to ponder.
1. A Turbulent Upbringing can create a lifetime of Motivation. Musk was born in South Africa, but never made peace with the country’s celebration of a “tough jock” culture. Add in some family quarrels, and Musk “almost from his earliest days, plotted an escape from his surroundings.”
2. Find Friends in college who “respect” your Ambition. Musk started out at Queens College in Toronto, Canada, but then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he began hanging out with Physics majors. When he wrote a senior-year Term paper about bullish prospects for Solar Energy, he got 98 points out of 100.
3. Tenacity, tenacity, tenacity !!! Musk’s first California startup in the mid-1990s, Zip2, was an online business directory that got off to a slow start. Musk worked round the clock to make it better, taking late-night cat-naps under his desk and telling other employees to wake him up at dawn so he could get back to work.
4. Get Angry about little stuff, if you must, but don’t let anger ruin your biggest chances. Musk hit a big speed bump in 2000 when other executives & the board shunted him aside as CEO of – what became PayPal. Musk “showed incredible restraint” during that period, settling for a smaller operating role as a PayPal adviser and continuing to invest in the company as its largest shareholder. When PayPal was sold to eBay in 2003, Musk’s share of the winnings totaled $250 million.
5. Talk it up. Deep down, Musk might be a shy person. Who knows? But when it comes to his business interests, he’s an ardent believer that CEOs need to use their own vocal chords to woo skeptics & create excitement about their companies’ next moves. The real-life Elon Musk shouldn’t be mistaken for a mad genius. But Musk figured out early on, that the blurring of identities could help Tesla — and many other business interests, too. Today, Musk has more than 2 million Twitter followers, and he has shared more than 1,000 tweets that help promote his interests.
6. Never stop Dreaming — but make your largest goals general enough that they won’t hurt you – if you miss by a little bit. The book closes with Musk’s declaration that he would like to die on Mars. It’s a handy way of keeping SpaceX’s ambitions visible. It’s also a sly way of suggesting that Musk may want to make a mark on Longevity science. But there’s no reason Musk needs to go broke chasing this dream anytime soon. He’s avoided the biggest peril of serial entrepreneurs: playing double-or-nothing over and over, until bankruptcy ensues.
Comments: Do you any insight into what makes Elon Musk great and characteristics you could use to become a Titan in your industry?