He is an inventor, entrepreneur and billionaire; and he was the inspiration for Robert Downey Jr’s character in the Hollywood blockbuster “Iron Man”. Both Elon Musk and Apple founder Steve Jobs have been referred to as “world-changing technology madman.” However, at 42, Musk (Elon Musk)’s real ambition is bigger and more crazy.
At the age of twenty-eight he launched PayPal; at thirty-one he started aerospace technology company SpaceX with plans to start the human migration to Mars; and at thirty he established electric car maker Tesla to change the external negative impression for electric cars.
In a surprising move last year, Musk announced plans to build a new generation of transportation: the Hyperloop – a fast, sustainable and cost-efficient train system without rails yet topped with solar panels and propelled by both electric motor and air cushion dynamics.
The following is the 5 tips he shared in the commencement speech which Musk gave at USC, where he talked about how to succeed after graduation.
First, work hard every waking hour: If you do simple math, say if someone works 50 hours and you work 100 hours, you will get twice as much done as the other person.
Second, attract great people to work with you: If you are creating a company or if you are joining a company, the most important thing is to attract great people. Either join a group that is amazing or you really respect, or if you’re building a company, you’ve got to gather great people. All a company is, is a group of great people that are gathered together to create a product or a service. And depending on how talented or how hardworking that group is, and to the degree that they are focused cohesively in the same direction, that will determine the success of the company. So, do everything you can to gather great people.
Third, focus on signals over noise: A lot of companies get confused and focus on things that don’t actually make the product better. At Tesla, we have never spent money on advertising, but put all the money into R & D and production design, to try to make the product as good as possible. For any given company, keep thinking about, ‘Are these efforts resulting in a better product or service? If they are not, stop those efforts’.
Fourth, don’t just follow the trend: Rather than reasoning by analogy, you boil things down to the most fundamental truths you can imagine, and you reason up from there. This is a good way to figure out if something really makes sense, or if it’s just what everyone else is doing. It takes a lot of effort, but it’s the best way to think especially if you are developing something new.
Fifth, for the young man (or woman), now is the time to take risks: As you get older, your obligations increase. Once you have a family, you start taking risks not just for yourself, but for your family as well. It gets much harder to do things that might not work out. So before you have those obligations, I would encourage you to take risks now and do something bold – you will not regret it.
Featured Image Credit: The Guardian