Elon musk needs no Introductions, but this man’s story has to be told to the world. Elon musk was born in South Africa and according to him had a childhood filled with devouring books after books on science fiction and biographies of great people. His life in South Africa also had episodes of bullying, where he was bullied because of his interests in studies and science.
An incident of bullying almost killed Elon, but he got away with a broken ear. Till today he has niggles in his body because of that incident. Elon left South Africa to pursue a Ph.D. in applied physics at Stanford University. But in a typical entrepreneurial fashion, he quit after two days to pursue a career in entrepreneurship.
Elon Musk Success journey
Musk’s First Few Companies
The first company he started was Zip2 with his cousin Kimbal Musk. Zip2 was an online city guide for the newspaper publishing industry. He wanted to become the CEO of the company but was denied by the board. Zip2 had a successful exit when they were sold to Compaq and Elon became a multi-millionaire for the first time in his life.
His next company was X.com, which was an online payment system. A lot of people think Musk started Paypal, but that isn’t the truth. Paypal was started by another visionary entrepreneur Peter Thiel, who is an extremely successful venture capitalist now with early investments in Facebook. When both companies merged together, the whole entity was called Paypal. Although Elon Musk was ousted as the CEO, Paypal had a successful exit and sold to e-bay for a $1.5 Billion.
Now a lot of insider’s who worked at Paypal had reasons suggesting that Elon Musk was not the true driver of growth and it was Peter Thiel who was responsible for it. Information like this tells young entrepreneurs that you will not be perfect when you start out, but will get better and better if you don’t give up.
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Musk’s Personal Life
Elon Musk met his first wife Justine in Canada where he pursued her relentlessly till she fell for his charms and tenacity. Justine said about Elon, “He won’t take no for an answer.” Justine and Elon married in 2000 but their relationship was tumultuous. After around six to seven years of marriage during a fight, Justine told her husband “Treat me like your wife, I’m not your employee”, Elon replied saying “If you were my employee, I would have fired you.” They both have 5 kids together. In 2008 Justine divorced Elon Musk.
I do think of him as the Terminator. He locks his gaze on to something and says, ‘It shall be mine.’ Bit by bit, he won me over.
– Justine Musk
The Companies that will change the world
Elon musk was asked in an Interview about why he chose to pursue these massive companies in two very difficult Industries. He replied saying,
I knew I could have started another Internet Business and made billions, but I wanted to do something more, I wanted to impact the world.
When Elon researched about what he could do next, he realized the dependence of humanity on fossil fuels. Contrary to popular belief, Elon Musk did not start Tesla. He invested in Tesla and had a falling out with the CEO Martin Eberhard. Martin was eventually ousted from his CEO position and Elon Musk took over. Tesla is an electric car company.
His other passion was about saving humanity. Elon believes that humanity needs to be a multi-planetary species to survive in the long-run. He thinks the odds of survival being in only one planet is not too high. He started off SpaceX with his own money. SpaceX makes rockets for NASA and other governmental space organizations.
Elon Musk has probably the highest risk appetite among all the entrepreneurs in the world. When he goes all in, he goes all in. This was his quote when he decided to use all of his personal wealth in Tesla and SpaceX.
I will spend my last dollar on these companies. If we have to move into Justine’s parents’ basement, we’ll do it.
Incredible work ethic and weird Interview style
From Ashlee Vance’s book, it says Elon Musk interviews everybody in the team, including the janitors. During the Interview, Elon supposedly keeps his back facing towards the potential hire and does not say anything, he is, in fact, replying to emails and working while you are talking. He does not make any eye contact while you’re interviewing, but he is listening and paying attention. After a few minutes, he will turn and look at you and ask you a series of puzzles.
Elon is also known for his 100 hour work weeks that he has been doing consistently for 15 years. He says that If you work for 100 hours a week and your competitor works for 50 hours a week, you will get done in 6 months, what they’ll take a year to do.
Incredibly High Standards
Elon’s incredibly high standards for his team cannot be better explained than this story. There was a senior engineer in SpaceX who dealt with Elon on a daily basis. The Falcon9 rocket that the engineer was working on required a vital part without which the rocket wouldn’t get off the ground. When he found the part made by another manufacturer and told Elon about it, Elon replied saying it was too expensive and they needed to manufacture their own. Now this was a highly technical product, which is extremely difficult to create, with Elon’s miniscule budget, the Engineer and his team got to work. After many months of toil and encountering dead-ends, they finally figured it out. It almost took them a year.
When the engineer gleefully shot off a mail to Elon saying how he and his team managed to build this part at a fraction of the cost, done by no company in the world and within a year, he was expecting a hearty congratulation or something more.
Elon had replied “Ok.”
This was the standard that was expected at Elon Musk’s companies. You were expected to break barriers and come up with new inventions daily. Those high standards were the minimum basic requirement.
The Final Frontier
Outside of Elon Musk’s office, there are two posters on each side of the wall. The poster on the left was mars in its current form. A barren land with rocks and gravel that no man can inhibit.
The poster on the right, was the mars of the future. A planet filled with humans under a dome and terraformed for humanity to live in. That is Elon musk’s vision.
Now tell me, Do you want to go to mars?
If you want to know more about Elon Musk then you should definitely read his biography.
In our future articles, we will take you through Challenges and Failures faced by Elon Musk. Stay Tuned!