Friday, May 01, 2015
What do you mean 'who is Elon Musk'?
Steve Jobs is dead. Bill Gates might as well be (he was always kind of boring) - in the realm of visionary world-leading people who is there to be inspired by?
How about Richard Branson? Not really. He's a publicity hound for sure and he parlayed his restlessness into starting and collecting businesses under the quirky Virgin brand. But he's never really disrupted an industry with anything unique.
There's people like Peter Thiel - one of the original investors in Paypal and Facebook - but, aside from being lucky and in the right place at the right time with some spare change he's hardly going to significantly change the world.
You get my drift? Who is there that not only has ideas that no one else has and has the completely insane focus to make them happen?
How about Elon Musk. No doubt you will have beard about him. He's often referred to as the prototype for Tony Stark (IronMan). He co-founded Paypal with Thiel, but unlike his Thiel he has gone on to innovate at a rate that can only be describes as (and I think this is the scientific term) …bonkers.
Musk created the Tesla car company. It makes viable electric cars - which is an astonishing accomplishment in itself but what is more remarkable is that his company is developing an entire infrastructure to make the vehicles practical - with not only a network of electric recharging stations but also making forays into generating the energy to pump into the vehicles (which is free for their owners). It makes sense that he has a significant interest in sustainable energy.
His company SolarCity is the second largest provider of solar systems in the US. (If I was you I'd look for some investments in solar power).
He's developing plans to create transport system called HyperLoop that would allow you to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 35 minutes - a distance of 350 miles. It operates like a vacuum tube.
It seems as though Musk operates in a way that takes Niels Bohr's question very seriously indeed: "Your ideas are crazy - but are they crazy enough" Oh, and he's also got SpaceX a company that is reimagining space travel (making Virgin Galactic seem like a low altitude publicity stunt). It is world's largest private manufacturer of rockets and has a deal with NASA.
You get the picture - the man is a brainiac maniac.
Obviously he attracts a lot of interest and attention - to be expected when you have wealth and influence that wasn't inherited.
People want to know the magic trick - how can they replicate Elon Musk's magic?
His ex-wife has some insights for you, posted on a Quora thread in response to the question:
“Will I become a billionaire if I am determined to be one and put in all the necessary work required?”
“No,” she says and goes on to say that is the wrong question.
“You’re determined. So what? You haven’t been racing naked through shark-infested waters yet. Will you be just as determined when you wash up on some deserted island, disoriented and bloody and ragged and beaten and staring into the horizon with no sign of rescue?”
“Shift your focus away from what you want (a billion dollars) and get deeply, intensely curious about what the world wants and needs.
Ask yourself what you have the potential to offer that is so unique and compelling and helpful that no computer could replace you, no one could outsource you, no one could steal your product and make it better and then club you into oblivion (not literally).
Then develop that potential.
Choose one thing and become a master of it.
Choose a second thing and become a master of that.
When you become a master of two worlds (say, engineering and business), you can bring them together in a way that will :
a) introduce hot ideas to each other, so they can have idea sex and make idea babies that no one has seen before and
b) create a competitive advantage because you can move between worlds, speak both languages, connect the tribes, mash the elements to spark fresh creative insight until you wake up with the epiphany that changes your life.
The world doesn’t throw a billion dollars at a person because the person wants it or works so hard they feel they deserve it. (The world does not care what you want or deserve.) The world gives you money in exchange for something it perceives to be of equal or greater value: something that transforms an aspect of the culture, reworks a familiar story or introduces a new one, alters the way people think about the category and make use of it in daily life.
There is no roadmap, no blueprint for this; a lot of people will give you a lot of advice, and most of it will be bad, and a lot of it will be good and sound but you’ll have to figure out how it doesn’t apply to you because you’re coming from an unexpected angle. And you’ll be doing it alone, until you develop the charisma and credibility to attract the talent you need to come with you.
Have courage. (You will need it.)
And good luck. (You’ll need that too.)”
And, of course, he wants to go to Mars. I expect we'll get a postcard sometime soon.