How To Become An Innovator Like Elon Musk
Elon Musk, is the real life "Tony Stark," he is the man behind the electronic car known as Tesla, the man behind the ever so popular Paypal and the man behind what is currently the most talked about system of transportation: the Hyperloop. Long story short, not only is Elon Musk a legend, but he is also an innovator. He lives for disrupting industries and constantly innovating the world that we currently live in today.
I once read an interesting quote from Elon Musk that went something along the lines of, “You want to have a future where you’re expecting things to be better, not one where you’re expecting things to be worse.” This quote speaks volumes of the mind of the talented Elon Musk. With the way that the world is today, many would argue that things have been going downhill for quite some time now.
We hear more and more about hunger and the spread of disease around the world. We hear more and more about how the human race is crippling the environment. The question is: why are we allowing this to happen? Why are we not doing something to guarantee a better future for us all rather than a better future for just a handful? These are the questions that Elon Musk clearly asks himself every day. The world may very well be better off if we had more innovators like him. Here are 7 traits that will help you aspire to be a game-changer like Musk himself.
1. Sometimes it is what you know.
Musk is not only an entrepreneur, but also an inventor. The truth is, if your goal is to change the world, then you can't simply throw money around -- you have to be active in the actual design and execution of the innovation. When we're talking about such industries as the Commercial Space Travel industry, the Clean Energy industry or even the Car industry, if you plan on bringing change to the way that things work, you'll need to be more hands on than simply being the hand that hires the brains; you need to be the brains. Musk has 2 bachelor degrees. One in economics and the other in physics.
2. Find what is most meaningful to you and pursue it.
Elon Musk was born and raised in South Africa. In the year 1988, at the age of 17, he left home in order to avoid serving in the South African military. "I don't have an issue with serving in the military," he said, "but serving in the South African army suppressing black people just didn't seem like a really good way to spend time."
What he wanted was to move to the U.S. where he believed "great things are possible." What Musk truly wanted to pursue was a career focused on the "important problems that would most affect the future of humanity... One was Internet, one was clean energy and one was space." He is now one of, if not the leading innovator in each field. Each one of us has something that moves us, something that makes waking up each and every morning worth all the trouble and stress that lie ahead. Find that something -- or as in Musk's case, find those somethings.
3. Work Ethic
"Pulled all nighter working on Hyperloop (as did others). Hopefully not too many mistakes." Elon Musk loves his work and loves to work. The more time you put in and the more efficient you are, the more progress you will make. Musk spends somewhere around 100 hours/week running SpaceX and Tesla Motors, spending a good amount of his time on a corporate jet.
We are only allowed a short period of time -- that is life. You can either use that time to dick-around or you can use that time to make your dreams come true and make the world a better place -- or Mars a better place; clichés fail when it comes to Musk.
4. You simply have to care.
You may have noticed that Musk is not focusing on adding zeros to his bank account, but rather adding happiness and comfort to the lives of millions -- or billions to be exact. He wants to change the world, not change his car (well...), his house, his toys or his clothing. He is not focusing on himself but on the rest of the world. If you help others than others will help you. He is the chairman of the Musk Foundation, focusing its efforts on science education, clean energy and pediatric health.
He sits on the board of the Space Foundation, The Planetary Society, the Stanford Engineering Advisory Board and The National Academies Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. His philanthropic efforts are, honestly, too long to list. He is not only putting his money behind the cause, but also his mind and time behind it. Take care of the world and the world will take care of you.
5. Know how to have fun.
For those of you that don't know, Musk was the inspiration for Jon Favreau's depiction of Tony Stark, the genius billionaire, in his “Iron Man” movies. In fact, Musk himself had a cameo in the “Iron Man 2” movie -- as well as a cameo in the movie: “Thank You For Smoking.”
Musk has even attended the Burning Man festival where he claims he first thought of the idea of SolarCity – the U.S.'s largest provider of solar energy. Work is only worth it if you can have fun while doing it. Work your ass of, but make sure to make room for some fun. You never know what billion-dollar-idea will come to mind.
6. Impossible only means improbable.
Sending people to Mars? Impossible. Yet, Musk plans to send the first person to Mars in the next 12-15 years. Getting from San Francisco to L.A. in half an hour for $20 on a self-powered vehicle? Impossible. Yet, Musk has just revealed his plans for the Hyperloop. Or rather, revealed plans for an incredibly innovative mode of transportation that he himself does not plan to take on because he would like to stay focused on SpaceX instead.
The man has just yesterday revealed a plan for a completely innovative means of transportation that everyone else in the world did not believe to be possible and basically said: Here. It's possible. I've proven it. But I'm too busy right now to take care of it. Do you think you can handle putting this together yourselves? Anything is possible if we put our minds to it and invent it. With technology advancing at such incredible rates, the impossibilities of our world are fading into extinction.
7. Love what you do.
This is most important. Elon Musk programmed his first piece of software at the age of 12 and sold it for $500. Ever since, he has made it his life's purpose to create and innovate. He works 100 hours/week and loves it. He makes a difference in people's lives and he loves it. He is creating a new, better future for the human race and he loves it. If he succeeds, we will all love him for it as well.
Love what you do. Love the planet, love the intrinsic value of a human life and of the human race as a whole. It sounds silly...but love truly is an unstoppable force. It brings us to the brinks of obsession and holds us there in its comforting arms. Find love for what you do and impossible will be nothing more than a poorly executed joke.
I highly recommend that you follow the following: @ElonMusk and @EliteDaily. Stay on top of things.
Photo credit: Wiki Commons, Flickr, WENN