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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
9 Reliable Ways To Cultivate Creative Thinking
Some people are naturally creative. Everyone else can cultivate creativity.
The benefits of creative thinking are enumerable. Having this skillset will enable you to tackle problems with unique perspectives, come up with special ideas and, overall, be a more effective performer.
One challenge to becoming more creative is the difficulty of quantifying creativity. It is much easier to learn and subsequently demonstrate skills in software engineering, for example. That being said, companies and people are drawn toward creative thinkers. The more that those around you listen to your opinion and the more frequently you propose unique ideas, the higher an indication of these skills. Therefore, over time, you can gauge progress based on how others respond to you and your work.
The other challenge, though, is that sometimes others will not recognise your creativity. They might shoot down an awesome idea because it sounds crazy unconventional. Understanding this and learning to navigate it will keep your confidence levels high so that you can continue to grow.
With these perspectives in mind around quantifying creativity, here are nine guaranteed ways that you can become a more creative thinker to better tackle your life and problems:
People have chronicled years of their work or life experiences into books. Knowing more and having different perspectives will help you become more creative. You will be able to take others’ ideas, pieces of knowledge and individual experiences and apply them to your present situations. Reading is one of the best ways to pick up this knowledge and empathy.
It is easy to make excuses for not having enough time to read but if you make reading a priority, you will be able to find the time and undoubtedly become more creative.
Related: Creative Thinking 101
2. Pick up an art
Having some sort of artistic outlet in your life will dramatically help with creativity levels. Albert Einstein came up with many of his famous revelations while playing the violin.
In the book Originals, Adam Grant – a researcher and professor at Wharton – found that “Nobel Prize-winners are twice as likely to play a musical instrument, they’re seven times as likely to draw or paint, 12 times as likely to write fiction or poetry, and… 22 times as likely as their peers to perform as actors, dancers, or, yes, magicians.”
Whether it be an instrument, drawing, acting or anything else, finding an artistic outlet will fire different parts of your brain. Those spark serenity and a stillness that will make you a more creative person.
3. Surround yourself with a wider range of personalities
Empathy is a huge key to creativity. Most people surround themselves with others who are similar to them. While doing so is comfortable, it is not beneficial when working toward creativity.
There are others within your vicinity who have lived dramatically different lives. Meeting them, understanding their backgrounds and learning how they think will widen your perspective about the world. That will, in turn, increase the creative vigor you can take through life.
4. Spend more time in nature
Being outdoors also sparks creativity. Escaping from the stresses and routine of life, even for brief periods, can get your head out of a rut. Finding short times to be outside throughout your week will give you a chance to get away from all of the technology and noise in our daily lives. Plus, it is an excuse to go have fun and explore.
Mental stillness allows you to eliminate many of the thoughts that constantly ruminate in your head. When you are always thinking about a past or future event, for instance, it takes your mind away from tackling the current situation. Meditation is a great way to develop this stillness.
With a meditation practice you can learn to let your mind be entirely in the present situation. Doing so will allow you to exert more concentrated effort on the tasks at hand. You can pull in more knowledge from different parts of your brain. Consequently, you will be more creative in each moment.
6. Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep can kill creativity. Although we feel the urge to always be on the move, when we are tired, we are not able to use as much of our brain. Plus, exhaustion makes it harder to retain information upon learning it. Therefore, with less sleep, we learn less that we can apply to situations and we cannot perform as effectively on any given task. Making sleep a priority will help your creativity, without a doubt.
Feeling healthy is a great way to have more confidence throughout our days. This confidence often leads to less worrying and more mental energy being exerted at the task at hand. Plus, while actually working out, people tend to be hyper-present. This might trigger an idea or a thought you had not considered before.
8. Do more of what you love
There is a correlation between happiness and creativity. The better that our spirits are, the higher functioning we act on a daily basis. Subsequently, a great way to increase happiness levels is to do what you love. This could be hobbies, spending time with loved ones or anything else.
Additionally, when doing what we love, we tend to be in a very present state. Some have called this state ‘flow.’ As mentioned above, being in a present state pays large dividends toward creativity. Not to mention that doing what you love might spark additional ideas and help you find new interests where you can be creative.
9. Take more risks
Taking risks will boost creativity by giving you a larger set of life events. When you have experienced more things, you will be able to apply those memories and lessons to each new situation that you are in. While you can do more in life without taking risks, fear is often an inhibitor toward trying something new. Therefore, be open to taking more chances. By going out of your comfort zone and doing what others might be unwilling to do, you will develop a deeper breadth of memories and past experiences that you can apply to new problems.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
3 Wonderfully Uncommon Reasons To Form Better Habits
As we race away into 2018, consider these very personal and fundamental bonuses to making and sticking to your resolutions.
Eat healthier. Exercise more. Be more productive. Read faster. Be friendlier. Sleep better.
Welcome to the New Year, a time when people set resolutions to form better habits and lead better lives.
Understandably, a lot of the articles, videos and other resources about starting off the New Year focus on which habits are best and the steps you need to take to achieve them. They outline the goals, plans and actions we need to make our resolutions a reality.
If you’re looking for 10 tips on how to lose 100 pounds in 90 days, then this article isn’t for you. Instead, why not consider some of the underlying and lesser-talked about benefits of kicking bad habits and forming better ones this year.
1. Challenging your norms
Why is it that you sneak sweets and junk food so often? How come you’re always so tired in the morning? Why can’t you get your butt to the gym?
If your answer for poor habits is “That’s just the way I am/the way things are” then you’re probably underestimating yourself. Stop. Think about your actions and why you’ve taken them perpetually over time. You might learn a lot.
Take personal finance advisor and entrepreneur Ramit Sethi for example. When he stopped to analyse himself and why he wasn’t going to the gym, he realised something simple that he’d never considered previously: His closet was in a different room, separate from his bedroom. Instead of getting up in the cold to put on clothes, it was easier to just stay in bed.
“Once I realised this, I folded my clothes and shoes the night before. When I woke up the next morning, I would roll over and see my gym clothes sitting on the floor. The result? My gym attendance soared by over 300%.”
Forming a new habit is your chance to examine your life — or at least one important aspect of it — and figure out why you’ve been making the decisions that lead to the habits you want or need to change.
2. Taking control
We don’t have to be the sum of randomised actions and results, based simply on moral and civil codes. It’s up to each one of us individually to take control of our actions and maximise the results.
It’s the same in business. There’s nothing you do without careful research and consideration in order to maximise productivity, profits, etc.
You’re your own boss. You control your thoughts and actions; these things aren’t up to chance. Having the ability to make significant changes to your life is empowering, so long as you seize the opportunity.
Take control. Be the entrepreneur of yourself, 100 percent.
3. Achieving clearer self-awareness
Some people say it takes only 21 days to form a new habit. Others say that just isn’t true. However long it takes, habit formation is a personal journey; one that requires desire, motivation, dedication, perseverance and change.
Habit formation takes you out of your comfort zone, to a place of self-discovery. If you’re getting into shape, how far can you push yourself physically? If you’re trying to eat better, how much temptation can you withstand?
Figure out what was required to succeed or why it was that you failed. Either way, you can obtain a clearer sense of your personal limits and, hopefully, how to achieve your goals — and sustain them — within your constraints.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.” Not only to the world, but to yourself as well.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How To Build A Disruptive Attitude
What does it mean to navigate a disruptive world and succeed in a market – place that is changing faster than it’s ever changed before?
What do you need to know to be a success? What resources and support do you need? How do you need to feel and think to be a success in a disrupted world?
According to Malcolm Gladwell, who spoke at the 2017 BCX Disrupt Summit, you need three key things to succeed in a disrupted world: Resources, knowledge and the right attitude.
The First step towards innovation and disruption is your mind. Your attitude.
For Gladwell, Malcolm McLean is the single biggest disruptor of the 20th century, in that he implemented containerised shipping. Without this fundamental shift in the way we ship cargo, the modern, connected world as we know it today would not exist.
Crucially, McLean did not invent containerised shipping, but no one had been able to make it work before a trucker from Ohio came along, and got irritated by how long he had to wait at the docks to offload his cargo (roughly 24 hours).
But McLean had an idea and he presented it at a conference of maritime shippers in Amsterdam. They laughed him off the stage. Normally, when we are treated with this type of derision, we get discouraged and give up. McLean didn’t do that. He possessed a fundamental trait that all entrepreneurs need: He didn’t require the approval of others to do what he believed was right. Entrepreneurs are open, creative, and see solutions to problems that others don’t; they are also — crucially — highly conscientious, which means they follow through on an idea in a detailed, disciplined way.
This is rare. You get creative people, and conscientious people, but it’s not easy to find both traits in the same person. Add to that the third trait of disagreeableness, in that they do not have to follow established norms, and you have a real game-changer.
McLean didn’t look at the problem as a shipper did. He came from an entirely new angle, and not only found a way to make containerised shipping possible, but affordable too.
Ikea is a similar example. In a nutshell, Ikea is furniture shipped flat from Poland. Ingvar Kamprad pursued outsourcing on an aggressive level, had an extraordinary amount of creativity in solving problems, and was very conscientious. Consider how difficult it would have been to build a world-class manufacturing plant in Poland in 1961. The country was a post-WW2 mess, in the grip of Soviet Russia, known for shoddy workmanship and actively hostile to free enterprise.
And then Kamprad waltzed in from Sweden and pulled off the impossible because of his single-minded grit and attention to detail. He is the epitome of conscientiousness and obsessiveness.
Now consider Steve Jobs.
By the 1970s, Xerox was the most important tech company in the world. They were the richest, most innovative and profitable company, and they invested in a state-of-the-art R&D centre and filled it with 100 of the most brilliant computer scientists from around the world, and told them to be brilliant.
And they were. As per Xerox’s request, they reinvented the office. They invented the laser printer, the world’s first word processing programme, interfaces — and the list continues.
And then a 23-year-old Steve Jobs visited the centre. At that stage, his company was making traditional kit computers out of a garage. He was blown away by what he saw at Xerox Park and all the incredible things they were doing — particularly when he was shown the mouse and interface the Xerox team had developed for personal computers. He immediately saw how icons and a mouse changed everything. This was the future of computing.
Leading the charge
Here’s why Apple is the world’s biggest tech company four decades later, and Xerox is not: While the Xerox team understood they had changed computing forever, there was no urgency to be the first to market.
Jobs left that day, immediately told his team to stop what they were doing, because it would soon be obsolete anyway, and started working on a new product based on what Xerox had developed.
His team told him he was nuts — they’d spent millions on what they were doing. Jobs said it didn’t matter. It was obsolete. He didn’t have more resources. He didn’t have smarter guys. He didn’t even have a wiser and better vision.
But he was in a hurry. And he was able to execute on his vision.
If you can get your mindset right, you can gather the resources and knowledge that you need to be successful. Learn as much as you can. Be open to new ideas. And if something is soon going to be obsolete, walk away. Find the next big thing. Because you’re either being disrupted, or you’re the disruptor. Which would you like to be?
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