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Top 11 Success Principles to Learn from Elon Musk

When we talk about entrepreneurs who revolutionized the industry and changed the industry, his name always surfaced as one of the most daring and successful entrepreneurs in the world. Elon Musk is a billionaire, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, and he has earned his reputation as the “real Iron Man” in business.

Elon made his first pot of gold through acquiring and selling PayPal to eBay. He made hundreds of millions from the deal and then decided to start building electric cars and creating rockets. Thus, he launched Tesla and SpaceX, and both companies have shaken the entire business world.

There are so many things one can learn from Elon Musk. And in this today’s article, we are going to discuss the 11 success principles you can acquire from this “Iron Man” in the business world.

Principle # 1. Work Extremely Hard

Elon Musk is known for his ability to work extremely hard. When he and his brother co-founded the company that eventually became PayPal, they lived and slept in a small office, and they took showers at the local YMCA.

This is what he says during an interview, “Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80 to 100 hour weeks every week. [This] improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40 hour work weeks and you’re putting in 100 hour work weeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing you know that… you will achieve in 4 months what it takes them a year to achieve.”

Since the years, Musk started with Zip2, and then X.com that eventually became PayPal, and now he is fully focusing all his energy on Tesla and SpaceX. In this modern time, Musk is one of the few successful entrepreneurs who have a vast impact in different industries and sectors. How do you think he managed to do this? Well, he did it with a lot of sleepless nights and by pouring most of his time running and managing his business.

Therefore, learn from Elon Musk and work hard like he did. It may not guarantee your success, but it is the prerequisite to success.

Principle # 2. Dare to Take Risk

When Musk sold PayPal to eBay, he made hundreds of millions from the deal. And for most people, that is a lot of money and many would have stopped there. However, this did not happen to Elon Musk, he chose to continue to strive on, continue to invent, and eventually settled on building rockets and started an electric vehicle company.

He took a lot of risks when he put in most of his own money into starting SpaceX and he even has to borrow money to pay rent and living expenses. Musk also recommends others to take risks when they are still young. He says, “Once you have a family it gets much harder to do things that might not work out.”

Musk dares to take the risks and do the impossible by venturing into a new industry. As a result, his success and rewards are far bigger. His bet on pouring his money into SpaceX, Tesla, and Solar City, a company focuses on renewable energy especially solar energy, have paid off tremendously.

Principle # 3. Never be Afraid to Fail

When Musk started Tesla, the company that focuses on mass producing electric vehicles to consumers, he thought that he is going to fail. When an interviewer asks him why he would start a company that he did not think would be successful, and he says, “If something is important enough you should try even if the probable outcome is a failure.”

For Tesla, Musk wanted to prove and get rid of the perception that electric cars are slow and ugly. This is not an easy task because it involves changing the public’s perception, but somehow he managed to do it. One of the car model, Model S sedan topped Consumer Reports’ annual customer satisfaction ratings for two consecutive years in a row.

It is extremely important for every entrepreneur to understand the meaning of failure and to learn it from Musk. The first three rocket launched test were failures, but Musk did not give up and he continued to improve the strategy until SpaceX successfully launched its fourth rocket into space.

When you are afraid to fail, you will hold back and never dare to do something to your full potential. This is why when it comes to achieving outstanding and remarkable success in life, you should not be afraid to fail. Rather, choose to work as hard as if you cannot fail.

Principle # 4. Be Bold

Who will have the dream of colonizing Mars one day? Not many. And who would have the idea of starting a business building rockets and sending people to space? Elon Musk is a real deal when it comes to thinking big and bold.

When it comes to business matter, Musk is bold and direct about it. When he started Zip2, he had the thought of running an internet banking business that would “rule them all” even in the very early days of the Internet. And after building successful internet startups, he went on to have the bold vision of changing the transportation industry and reducing the pollution by launching Tesla. Not only that, he also dreamed about sending people to Mars too.

When Musk wanted to start SpaceX, he called his partner, Jim Cantrell, and said, “I want to change mankind’s outlook on being a multi-planetary species.” Jim also recalled Musk continued to say, “Can we meet this weekend? I have a private jet, I’ll fly to your house.”

This is how bold Elon Musk can be when it comes to running his companies and businesses. People who are bold are the ones who will get the work done. This is why you too, must learn to be bold like Elon Musk.

Principle # 5. Think Out of the Box

Elon Musk is someone who thinks outside the box. Before Musk entered the space and aeronautics industry, companies like Boeing is still following the old conventions of doing things. One of the SpaceX’s challenges is to significantly bring down the cost of building a rocket so that space travel can be for everyone. And Musk brought in the idea of reusable rockets and the latest successful SpaceX rocket landing has made a big step in this.

In one of Musk’s commencement speech, he says, “Don’t just follow the trend”, and his ventures have certainly proved his advice. If you look at all the businesses Elon Musk started, they are aimed at solving big problems in a market with little competition. PayPal is considered the first few email money transferring solution in the world, SpaceX is the first private company that sends rockets to space, and Tesla is the world’s electric car pioneer.

Hence, do not be afraid to think out of the box. Do not follow the trend, instead, become the trendsetter and be the first one to venture into something new. If you want to reap the greatest reward, you will have to focus on innovation rather than competition.

Principle # 6. Always be Learning

How do you think Musk has the knowledge to build rockets? Well, he did not, but he is willing to read and learn, as much as possible. And learning is ultimately one of the most important keys to success in life and in business.

A lot of people never read a book after their graduation. This is a big mistake because the moment you stop reading or learning, you stay stagnant and soon, you will become obsolete. Musk is well-known for his voracious passion for reading. He is a bookworm and claims at he used to read about 500 pages a day.

When he was in school, he read for over ten hours a day, reading everything in his library and the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. Not only that, he also learned and completed a 6 months BASIC course in just three days. When it comes to reading and learning, Musk is a great example for all.

Remember, leaders are readers. Robin Sharma, the best-selling author of the book, “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” says this, “Ordinary people have big TVs. Extraordinary people have big libraries.”

So if you want to be successful and produce outstanding results in your life, equip yourself with knowledge. Make it a habit to read and turn on your commitment to consistent learning each and every day.

Principle # 7. Turn Criticism into Feedback

It is important for everyone to learn and receive feedback from others in order to reach higher ground. The problem is that most people do not like to listen to all the criticism or complaints from others, they just want compliments. However, Musk does not look at it this way. He believes that criticism and complaints are important because they can work as feedback for us to improve even further.

Musk says, “I think it’s important for people to pay close attention to negative feedback and rather than ignore negative feedback, you have to listen to it carefully.” However, this does not mean that you need to accept and listen to every criticism. He also continues to say, “Ignore it if the underlying reason for the negative feedback doesn’t make sense but otherwise, people should adjust their behavior.”

Elon Musk says that he is not perfect and he understands it. And this is why he thinks it is important to listen to the positive criticism and complaints, especially from people who have your best interest in mind.

You have to learn how to use criticism into feedback and use complaints as stepping stones to your success. It may not be an easy task because nobody likes it when other people tell them that they are wrong. However, you need to be rational enough to find the gems in the feedback.

Principle # 8. Work with the Right People

No one can succeed alone in this world. If you want to be an entrepreneur, start a business or build a company, you need the help and support from others in order to grow big. In his commencement speech at USC, Musk explains that if you are creating or joining a company, the most important thing is to attract great people.

Elon Musk says that he will interview candidates from time to time. He does this himself because he believes that he needs to find the right talent to join his team in order to grow his company and materialize his vision.

Plus, Musk is not afraid of hiring new and fresh talents. He never hesitated to contact the young and talented engineers himself directly. He believes that while it is true that inexperienced team can make mistakes, but they can also produce great results with energy, passion, and dynamic leadership.

Working with the right people are the keys because if you hire the wrong people, they can bring down the entire company. Why do you think big companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple are able to grow at such an amazing pace? This is because they hire right talent and work with the right group of people.

Principle # 9. Be Extremely Optimistic

All the successful people out there are extremely optimistic. The same goes for Elon Musk. He is known for setting impossible deadlines and making requests of his employees to cut cost up to 90%. The same thing happened to the late Steve Jobs. Jobs often created impossible deadlines and request his team to deliver extraordinary work.

Sometimes, things may seem impossible to achieve, but you will never know until you press on and do it. When Musk decided to start Tesla and build electric cars for the world, many people rejected his idea, even the people who looked up to. However, Musk remains optimistic that it can be done, and he did it. Many people think that Musk is crazy to launch SpaceX and wants to colonize Mars, but his optimism drives him to move forward.

You need to be positive and look at things from a brighter side when it comes to achieving the extraordinary. When people do not believe that something is possible or reject your idea because they think that it is crazy, you are often on the right path to something big.

Principle # 10. Never Ever Give Up

The first three rocket launches from SpaceX were failures. All three of the rockets blew up and more than 300 SpaceX employees in attendance were heartbroken. The employees also fear that the company will be shut down because SpaceX has somehow, run out of capital for the next launch.

This is when Musk stepped up and speaks to the crowd. He told his team that he has secured further investment for SpaceX so that they do not have to worry about continuing their mission. At the climax of his speech, he says, “For my part, I will never give up, and I mean never.”

Eventually, the fourth rocket launch proves a success. On September 28th, 2008 the Falcon 1 became the first privately built rocket to achieve earth orbit.

Regardless of whatever dreams or goals you want to achieve in your life, you must never give up on it. There will be people telling you that it cannot be done. There will be times when things are tough and you just feel like quitting, and there will also be times when you fail and you want to give up, but don’t.

Learn from Elon Musk. Never give up no matter how tough the situation becomes. Learn to bounce back and keep striving forward.

Principle # 11. Enjoy Life and Celebrate Success

Elon Musk has superb focus and determination when it comes to business, but he is also a party-goer and someone who knows how to celebrate and enjoy life. Despite his crazy work hours, he knows how to throw up parties and enjoy himself. When he was still in college, he turned his frat house into a nightclub and used the money he earned to pay for his college.

When he got his share from the sale of his first startup, he immediately bought an 1800 square-foot condo and moved there from his apartment that he used to share with three other people.

Not only that, on his 30th birthday, he rented an English castle for a party of 20 and played hide-and-seek games until 6am. Musk also totaled an uninsured McLaren F1 doing tricks on Sand Hill Road while going to an investor meeting. He ended up hitching a ride and the sports car was worth about $1 million.

Sometimes you just need to let go and enjoy life. Life is supposed to be fun and not just about work or business. You need to learn how to let go and pamper yourself with joyful activities that you truly enjoy. Take it as a task to recharge and refresh yourself.

The same thing happens to Jack Ma, one of China’s richest men and the founder of Alibaba. You can see him dressing as Michael Jackson singing, acting and filming in a kung-fu movie. When a reporter asks why he did those things, he says that there is a part of him that always enjoy the fun and he just wants to entertain himself and others.

Therefore, you have to work hard and also play hard. Celebrate all your wins so that you will be inspired to move forward and achieve more. And finally, life is short, so learn to have fun with it.

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Message from Sophia!

I would love to hear from you and read your comments on this article. Let me know what you think about this article. Is it helpful to you? Your comments and suggestions will serve as an inspiration and learning platform for me.
Regards, Sophia
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