Do you dream of being a CEO that changes the world, makes huge money, and lands on the cover of TIME magazine? That’s what Elon Musk has done – the CEO of Tesla – an exciting and quickly growing electric car company, and also SpaceX – a private space transport company that sends satellites into orbit! (Yes, he’s the CEO of TWO major companies!!)
A lot of young Moroccans tell me it’s their dream to become a CEO. But is it really worth pursuing?
I read Elon Musk’s biography this summer…I think he’s the most exciting CEO & entrepreneur on the planet right now…he could actually change the world as we know it. (Get your copy of the book here). So what are some things you could learn from his life – good or bad? Let me share a couple ideas I picked up from the book:
Elon Musk PURSUED mentors. When he was a university student, him and a friend decided to contact a whole list of people they admired and ask for a meeting. CEOs, professional athletes, journalists…I’m sure they didn’t get many responses. But one guy – a top executive at a bank named Peter Nicholson – agreed to meet them. They took a 3-hr train ride and had lunch with him, which ended up having a HUGE impact on Elon’s future.
Let that sink in for a minute…
Can you imagine a student from Marrakesh contacting CEOs to ask for a meeting, and convincing some of them to say Yes, and then taking the train all the way to Casa or Rabat for a 30-minute appointment? That’s what Elon Musk did. And it paid off.
Peter Nicholson gave Elon a summer internship at the bank where he learned all about the world of finance, which eventually led to his founding of PayPal.
When Elon was debating about whether he should go to grad school and do his masters, or go to Silicon Valley and try to start up a company, Peter advised him that grad school could wait, but the opportunities that existed when the Internet was first emerging were once-in-a-lifetime. Peter advised him to seize the opportunity (‘You only get one shot, do not miss your chance or blow this opportunity comes once in a lifetime…’), and go back to school later on. Elon took his advice, started his 1st company, Zip2, and ended up making $22 million just a few years after graduating!
Then he used that money to invest in Paypal, and ended up walking away with $360 million – the seed money used to start Tesla & Space X. Zip2 led to PayPal which led to Tesla.
Do you see how important that one mentor was in his life? Peter Nicholson altered the path that Elon was on, and dramatically helped him achieve success. But all of this started because Elon sought mentors! He pursued them. He looked for them and chased them. Who are your mentors? Your coaches? Who is invested in your life and guiding you towards success?
Another thing I noticed about Elon is his WORK ETHIC. Some of my students were complaining about having to do an internship of 20 days during the 4 month summer! For many of them, it was their first-ever work experience. Elon on the other hand, worked TWO summer internships, for the WHOLE summer. During the day he worked at Pinnacle, and he would start his 2nd job at a company called Rocket Science Games at 5pm. His boss was amazed at his ability to pull all-nighters. He functioned on very little sleep because he was so ambitious and driven.
Even after he started his own company, he would instruct his secretary to wake him up when she arrived in the morning, because he would work most of the night, and fall asleep in the bean bag chair beside his desk.
Even NOW, when he’s worth $20B (yes, BILLION), and could easily buy a yacht and travel the world…he still works 85 – 100 hours a week – more than 40 for each of his companies. He sleeps 6 hours a night, and travels extensively. Not many people can outwork Elon, and I admire the incredible devotion he gives to his goals.
Elon Musk is extremely successful and is changing the world as we know it. Your kids will learn about him in history classes, and soon he’ll become a household name in Morocco. (Just wait until Tesla arrives here and you see electric cars driving around Casa, and charging stations appearing at every ‘Aire de Repos” on the highway to Marrakech).
Being a workaholic comes at a cost. The last thing I observed about Elon is his SACRIFICE to live this lifestyle…he’s been divorced 3 times, rarely sees his kids, and he does not have time for good friendships. You may admire his work ethic and all that he has accomplished, but be sure to ask yourself what you really value in life before you follow in his footsteps. Elon inspires me to work hard in pursuit of my dreams, but not at the cost of the people I love the most.
I love reading inspiring biographies, and Elon Musk’s did not disappoint. Click here to order the book yourself. You should also check out Tesla’s new cars and the Gigafactory they are building in the Nevada desert, along with a SpaceX rocket LANDING on a platform at sea…this is crazy stuff that is changing the world!