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.
20 Quotes On Coping With Change From Successful Entrepreneurs And Leaders
Change is up to you.
Change is a hard concept to grasp – and can be even harder to cope with it. Whether you’re switching careers, leaving a company or ending a relationship, change comes in all sizes – big and small. And while some change can be exciting, other times it can be difficult.
Having your own approach to change, whether it’s in how you view it or how you handle it, is important in moving forward and being successful.
To learn how others do it, here are 20 quotes about change from today’s most successful leaders and entrepreneurs.
1. Elon Musk
“Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.” – Elon Musk
2. Oprah Winfrey
“You don’t have to hold yourself hostage to who you used to be.” – Oprah Winfrey
3. Barack Obama
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” – Barack Obama
4. Larry Page
“If you’re not doing some things that are crazy, then you’re doing the wrong things.” – Larry Page
5. Steve Jobs
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” – Steve Jobs
6. Andy Warhol
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol
7. Steve Case
“Revolutions happen in evolutionary ways.” – Steve Case
8. Coco Chanel
“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” – Coco Chanel
9. Warren Buffett
“The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.” – Warren Buffett
10. Steven Spielberg
“All of us, every single year, we’re a different person. I don’t think we’re the same person all our lives.” – Steven Spielberg
11. Mark Zuckerberg
“Entrepreneurship is about creating change, not just companies.” – Mark Zuckerberg
12. Richard Branson
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and by falling over.” – Richard Branson
13. Joan Rivers
“Life is very tough. If you don’t laugh, it’s tough.” – Joan Rivers
Related: 3 Reasons You Should Embrace Change
14. Lady Gaga
“In order to build strength, you have to usually come from a lot of weakness.” – Lady Gaga
15. Thomas Jefferson
“Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.” – Thomas Jefferson
16. Thomas Edison
“Good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.” – Thomas Edison
17. Sheryl Sandberg
“I learned that, in the face of a void or in the face of any challenge, you can choose joy and meaning.” – Sheryl Sandberg
18. Tony Robbins
“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” – Tony Robbins
19. Martha Stewart
“The more you adapt, the more interesting you are.” – Martha Stewart
20. Albert Einstein
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
You’re Probably Biased At Work. Here’s How To Stop It
New research looked at hard data to find solutions.
Everyone suffers from bias, despite their best intentions. And that bias can manifest itself in ways we don’t always intend – including how opportunities are and aren’t doled out in the workplace.
Recently, a trio of researchers used sensors to see if they could distinguish any differences in day-to-day behavior between male and female employees. Their goal was to eliminate the type of bias that can occur in self-reported polls about behaviour.
To study this, the researchers looked at a company where women made up just under 40 percent of entry-level employees and 20 percent of employees at the second-highest level of seniority. For four months, 500 male and female employees at this company wore badges with sensors in them that recorded their movement, speech patterns and proximity to one another.
The researchers then monitored who the subjects communicated with and who led conversations. Though the data was anonymous, the research team collected information about a given person’s gender, role and how long they had worked for the company.
Although they approached the investigation with the hypotheses that perhaps the female employees had less access to mentors or did not advocate for themselves with management as much as their male counterparts, the researchers found that this was not the case.
“We found almost no perceptible differences in the behavior of men and women. Women had the same number of contacts as men, they spent as much time with senior leadership and they allocated their time similarly to men in the same role,” the researchers wrote in a summary of their findings in Harvard Business Review.
“We found that men and women had indistinguishable work patterns in the amount of time they spent online, in concentrated work, and in face-to-face conversation. And in performance evaluations men and women received statistically identical scores. This held true for women at each level of seniority. Yet women weren’t advancing and men were.”
They concluded that differences in men and women’s behaviour aren’t what leads to gender inequality in the workplace – entrenched bias is the culprit.
So what can you do in your own company to make sure that bias doesn’t impact your hiring and promoting decisions? The researchers recommend instituting training programmes to reduce bias among management and people in the position to bring on new team members. You also might want to consider making a policy that, for all new open jobs, you interview and recruit people from a variety of backgrounds.
Also, look at the responsibilities your employees have outside the office. Think about ways to make it easier for both women and men to have flexible schedules, especially given that women often have social pressures to take on more family and household obligations.
Finally, determine where the pipeline to managerial and executive positions begins to trend more towards men. Collect data on exactly when these shifts happen in order to identify their specific causes (e.g. higher-ranking positions and their responsibilities require more late nights), then come up with pointed solutions (e.g. flexible morning schedules to accommodate childcare).
From there, measure the effectiveness any solution you implement. (“Since we implemented this policy, have those who have taken advantage of it advanced?”) This way, mitigating inequality is a science, not a guessing game.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com
Better Thinking For A Better World
How to think more critically and strategically in a world filled with complexity and rapid change.
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.
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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