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5 Habits That Made Elon Musk An Innovator

Success leaves clues: While what he’s achieved has made him seem unique, many of Musk’s behaviours are entirely replicable.

Alp Mimaroglu

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Elon-Musk

There are only 24 hours in every day, and you can’t squeeze out an extra second. Yet some people manage to be so productive and innovative they become billionaires at an age when most of us are still struggling to make ends meet. Even among billionaires, some stand out more than others, capturing the hearts of admirers everywhere.

Elon Musk is arguably one of the most well-liked and respected billionaires today. With Tesla’s recent Model 3 announcement, he continues to stay relevant. Let’s take a look at how Musk has stayed one step ahead of a very elite pack. What habits set him apart from his peers?

1. He reads the way most people watch TV

Like Buffett, who claims to read around 500 pages a day, Musk is the definition of a bookworm. When he was in grade school, he was reading ten hours a day, devouring everything in his library and the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, and completed a six-month BASIC course in just three days.

Related: 6 Skills Of Self-Made Millionaires That You Should Be Using, Too

2. He doggedly pursues his own interests

If his healthy reading habits weren’t already a giveaway, Musk is a true believer in self-guided learning. At the age of 12, he used his BASIC skills to program Blastar, a self-made video game which he sold to PC and Office Technology for R5 000. Musk also doubled majored in physics and economics, then interned for both ultra-capacitor research and video game companies.

Today, he’s worth R145 billion and runs businesses that seem to have nothing to do with one another. Except they all do, of course – Musk is genuinely interested in them. It’s no surprise that he’s the main inspiration behind Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man character.

3. He is tirelessly, unflaggingly optimistic

Elon-Musk-inventor

While the first two traits are true for most successful businesspeople, Musk also has an ace up his sleeve – he has a strong glass-half-full mentality. His Forbes profile sums this up best by describing two of his companies as “moonshot tech companies.” Except Musk doesn’t think of them as moonshots at all.

The secret to his innovation lies in his enthusiasm. This is a guy who grew up with an emotionally abusive father and was once bullied and beat up so badly that he needed to go to the hospital. “If you wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be better, it is a bright day. Otherwise, it’s not.”

Related: The Bedtime Routines of 4 Exceptionally Successful People

Musk genuinely believes that what he’s doing is good for the world, and that it’s making a positive difference. In fact, he believes so much in SpaceX that there are two giant posters in his office: before and after scenarios of what Mars will look like once he’s colonised the planet. “I want to die on Mars. Just not on impact.”

4. Yet he still believes failure is an option

Countless people – some of them very qualified experts – told Musk his ideas were ridiculous and bound to fail. Yet Musk managed to ignore them all and do things the way he wanted.

Granted, some of his ideas never quite took off. But many more succeeded and are dazzling investors and consumers alike. “Failure is an option here. If you’re not failing, you’re not innovating enough.” Or, put another way, “There’s a tremendous bias against taking risks. Everyone is trying to optimise their ass-covering.”

5. And he really, really knows how to party

Businessweek writer Ashlee Vance wrote a book about Musk titled Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and The Quest for a Fantastic Future that revealed some interesting insights into Elon’s private life – especially how much of a party animal he is.

Here are some of the more fascinating factoids:

  • He paid for college in Ontario by turning his frat house into a well-run nightclub.
  • On his 30th birthday celebration, he rented out an English castle for a party of 20 and played hide-and-seek games until 6 am.
  • He once threw a costume party in Venice (of course) and came dressed as a knight. Then he dueled a mini Darth Vader with a parasol.

Parties aside, Musk also just knows how to have a really good time in general:

  • After selling his first video game, he started a video game arcade in South Africa as a teenager.
  • He totaled an uninsured McLaren F1 doing tricks on Sand Hill Road en route to an investor meeting, and ended up hitching a ride instead. The sports car was worth $1 million.
  • He’s going to build a roller coaster around the SpaceX HQ, just because.

You don’t have to have a PhD to be a pioneer

Before he sold PayPal and became the multi-billionaire innovator we all admire, Musk decided to give graduate school a shot. He enrolled in a Stanford PhD program – and dropped out after just two days. That’s all it took for him to realise that there probably wasn’t too much he could learn from the class that he couldn’t learn on his own.

Related: 5 Visionary CEOs and Their Key Traits That Every Leader Should Master

Most of us, if we were fortunate and talented enough to be accepted by a PhD program at Stanford, probably would have attended. Musk didn’t because he already had all the skills he needed to be successful. He was laser-focused on his interests, intensely curious, unflaggingly optimistic, and unafraid to fail.

What about you?

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Alp Mimaroglu specialises in marketing automation, demand generation, analytics and marketing technology. He has extensive experience with both business and consumer marketing. Mimaroglu is passionate about how technology is rapidly becoming the key to success in both the corporate sales and marketing landscapes.

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Self Development

Better Thinking For A Better World

How to think more critically and strategically in a world filled with complexity and rapid change.

Erik Kruger

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positive-thoughts

We take the act of thinking for granted. It is often seen as a skill one is born with and not one that should be cultivated over time.

As the world becomes more complex and more busy, strategic and critical thinking becomes more valuable. Strategic thinking points to the ability to decide how and when to deploy resources to achieve a certain end state.

Below are four areas of focus that will improve your strategic thinking:

1. Making Time For Reflection

Life is busy. Juggling work, friends and family, and the recurring notifications from your phone has become quite a feat. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to create space for reflection.

Related: One-Year Milestone: Smart Thinking That Will Ensure Your Start-Up Makes It Past The First Year

Time spent in solitude allows you to reflect and connect the dots. It temporarily takes you out of a world in which you must be reactive to survive and keep up.

My suggestion is to create a SOS (space of solitude) for at least 30 minutes every day. In this time, reflect on what has been working and what has not been working. Meditate on your goals for the future and plan for the actions that will help you get there.

2. Asking Better Questions

Many of us fall into the trap of sequential problem solving. This happens when leaders or organisations simply move from one challenge to the next and the only question they ask is “how do we overcome this challenge?”.

What about the questions like “how did we arrive here?” or “what assumptions are we making here?” or “what does better look like?”

I am not trying to give you a template of questions to ask. Merely prodding you to go beyond challenging the problem but to also challenge the thinking about the problem.

As we deepen our questions, we elevate our thinking.

Do not simply ask more questions. Ask better questions.

3. Seek More Input

Teams are great and often underutilized. How can you use your team’s knowledge, experience, and opinions in a more constructive way?

Well, how about allowing them sufficient time for reflection in solitude but also as a group. How about prompting them to look for the patterns in their environment? How about, as a leader, asking them questions that allow them to really stretch their cognitive abilities?

Even better, empower them to ask those questions themselves.

Related: Disruptive Thinking: A Winning Edge

4. Thinking rules

We often make the same mistakes over and over. Not because we have not learned the lesson but because the context changes. Or excitement gets the better of us.

During your reflection time (hopefully you have noticed the importance of this by now) you can reflect on your past decisions and figure out how you could have made better decision.

Once you have done this start jotting down a few personal rules that will help guide your decision making in the future. A personal guideline I established was that I will wait 24 hours before making any big purchase. Gadgets and golf gear often get the best of me. But simple rules like these help to guide my decision making and prevents me from making mistakes irrespective of context or emotional state.

What is next?

Starting today schedule a daily SOS. Yes, schedule it. Do not leave it to chance.

Think of it as training for your brain. A space where you get to think. Free of distraction and noise. You will be amazed at the clarity that comes from these sessions and how your productivity and effectiveness soars.

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Self Development

Flourishing Through Failure And Finding Fortune

What we mean by business failure is not the entire business failing due to running out of money or not meeting the target for the year.

Tasmin Copley

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business-failure

Is there a way to flourish through failure when it comes to business operations? Is it something that should be encouraged or stand as grounds for dismissal? Or is all of this just nonsense in a world attempting to pursue perfection?

Let’s talk about failure

What we mean by business failure is not the entire business failing due to running out of money or not meeting the target for the year. We’re looking into the business, into those that make it run – its people.

People are imperfect and make mistakes all the time. But rather than brushing something off as a fail or mistake does no justice when it comes to learning from it. And there are different definitions and degrees of failure based on department and responsibility. But when you mess up and fail, you affect more than just your individual performance.

Related: Smart Money For Small Businesses

Here’s why it can be good for business

As frustrating as it is to have to “clean up” after an employee messes up, failure can actually be good for business.

  • Fewer mistakes: Failing means you can learn from it and be less susceptible to failure in that area again in the future. When you fail, you become a lot more aware of your actions than before and critically analyse before you act for fear of messing up again.
  • Relatability: This will never be a perfect world and businesses and people that don’t mess up are an intimidating and alien concept to the rest of us. If the incident affects the entire business, then use that material to tell your “success from failure” story and show everyone that you’re human and that it is possible to come back from it. Failure makes you relatable in the eyes of the public.
  • Humility: In the same breath, you (as a business) learn to be humble in the times you do succeed, as those moments can be fleeting.
  • Focus: Failure brings a newfound focus and determination to work harder and be better. It’s a shock to the system where you’re forced to bounce-back or continue to fail and jeopardise your position in the business.
  • Innovation: And, finally, failure can be good for business when it encourages innovation. You need to innovate and find a way to sort out the problem that’s been created in a way that will also discourage it from happening again.

Finding fortune in failure

The abovementioned benefits, if you will, of failure are in themselves favoured fortune found in failing. But there are things such as intelligent failures, trial and error, and inspiration that are the true game changers when it comes to failing.

Intelligent failure is defined by Sim Sitkin as: “Learning, maximised and accelerated through the act of trial, error and communicating stories.”

These failures are, almost, planned specifically to generate a profitable and successful outcome. At a risk, of course, because you never actually know what the outcome is. Having a business strategy and plan, created with so much detail, gets put to the test where a trial and error system is used to determine what works, what needs to be tweaked, and what needs to be completely discarded and redesigned.

With intelligent failure, it’s what you make of it and where your motivation to fail is to progress. Unlike preventable and unavoidable failures.

Moving forward

But, in the moment, it’s always a bit harder to see the end of a failure’s repercussions. You do need to find a way to move forward though, once you’ve learned a lesson, there’s no point in wasting time dwelling on it. You need to keep moving forward.

Related: Failure Is Not An Option – Or Is It? Your How To On How To

Do what you need to do to better yourself and avoid similar situations in the future. One way to do that is to keep learning and adapting with that knowledge. Invest your time in sales, human resources, management or marketing courses. Whatever it takes to better your skills and encourage your mind to think more strategically and carefully when it comes to doing the job.

Get it into your head now that you will never be able to please everyone. And if you can do your job, own up to your errors, but a the same time provide your solutions, you will remain valuable to the business.

Staying motivated

In order to move forward, you need to find your motivation and keep it going after you fail. And the way you do this is through support.

Every business operates as a team and you don’t have to be in it alone.

Take more calculated risks and try new things to challenge yourself to do better and find innovative solutions. This will keep you focused and motivated to keep pushing through previous disappointments as it will be a new and fun way of doing your job.

Magnify your goals, literally, on the wall or on your desktop. Keep reminding yourself what you’re striving for and understand that even when you do fail, that the goal has yet to be achieved and is still possible if you just put your mind to it.

At the end of the day, failure is whatever you make of it. You can choose to let it discourage you or you can manipulate it to help you grow and make you more resilient. Failure is an opportunity to do better next time and all successful business people fail, they just know how to deal with it.

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Self Development

Want To Feel Empowered? Check Out These 17 Quotes From Successful Entrepreneurs And Leaders

To achieve success, you must constantly feel empowered.

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Mark Cuban

Feel empowered with these 17 quotes from famous leaders and entrepreneurs from around the world

Coco Chanel

With entrepreneurship comes its own set of trials and tribulations. Whether it’s bouncing back from failure or dealing with difficult investors, every stage of the entrepreneurial journey has its challenges. And to be successful, having the endurance to push through the tough times is necessary. Often, feeling empowered and being inspired will help get you there.

Empowerment is a necessity when it comes to building confidence, moving towards your goal and not listening to any discouraging words from others. And while empowerment can come from a variety of places, it has to start from within. As Coco Chanel once said, “My life didn’t please me, so I created my life.”

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

“The cynics may be the loudest voices – but I promise you, they will accomplish the least.” – Barack Obama

Related: 9 Warren Buffett Quotes That Will Teach You More Than Just Investing

Richard Branson

Richard Branson

Richard Branson

“I’m not the bravest or smartest person, but I’m courageous enough to dream big, challenge myself and take bold risks.” – Richard Branson

Larry Page

Larry Page

Larry Page

“It seems like the world is crumbling out there, but it is actually a great time in your life to get a little crazy, follow your curiosity and be ambitious about it.” – Larry Page

Related: 49 Inspirational Quotes And Mantras To Help You Overcome The Stress Of Running A Business

Coco Chanel

Coco CHanel

Coco Chanel

“My life didn’t please me, so I created my life.” – Coco Chanel

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama

“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.” – Michelle Obama

Related: 10 Leadership Quotes From The World’s Most Influential Leaders

Thomas Edison

thomas-edison-invention

Thomas Edison

“If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” – Thomas Edison

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

“You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it.” – Sheryl Sandberg

Related: 10 Motivational Quotes from Facebook Genius Mark Zuckerberg

J.K Rowling

jk-rowling

J.K Rowling

“As is a tale, so is life: Not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.” – J.K Rowling

Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban

“Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them.” – Mark Cuban

Jeff Bezos

jeff-bezos

Jeff Bezos

“In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.” – Jeff Bezos

Related: 25 Quotes to Inspire Your Entrepreneurial Journey

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart

“Sometimes, I shake if I have to do something that I’ve never done before – maybe not noticeably, but inside. But I’ll do it because I know it’s not an insurmountable task.” – Martha Stewart

Steven Spielberg

steven-spielberg-director

What you need to look at with empowerment

“In your defining moments, do not let your morals be swayed by convenience or expediency. Sticking to your character requires a lot of courage.” – Steven Spielberg

Related: 50 Inspirational Quotes To Help You Achieve Your Goals

Warren Buffett

warren-buffett

Warren Buffett

“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more proactive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” – Warren Buffett

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs

Albert Einstein

albert-einstein

Albert Einstein

“The value of achievement lies in the achieving.” – Albert Einstein

Related: 10 Great Quotes On The Power Of Goals

Barbara Corcoran

barbara-corcoran

Barbara Corcoran

“It’s your game; make up your own rules.” – Barbara Corcoran

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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