When contemplating the world’s greatest visionaries, Elon Musk surely comes to mind. The South African-born entrepreneur, inventor, investor and visionary is both a renaissance man and a leader of the future. Here is a look at his business success, personal story and inspiration for others to live their dreams.
As a child and teenager, Elon Musk would be the last person anyone would expect to be one of the great influencers of the 21st century. He grew up in South Africa, thousands of miles from the centers of the global economy; his parents divorced when he was nine years; and he was the victim of serious bullying in school. Yet he developed an interest in computing and, at age 19, moved to Canada to pursue a higher education. Two years later, he moved to the U.S., where he studied double majors in physics and economics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Musk’s business experience began in 1995, when he and his brother, Kimbal, launched Zip2, a software company, which they sold in 1999. Using the proceeds from the sale, Elon Musk co-founded X.com, an online financial company that would later merge with Confinity to form PayPal.
To the Ends of the Earth – and Beyond
With $100 million from his early business successes, Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 with the goal of advancing rocket technology through the manufacture of next generation space vehicles. The profile of the Hawthorne-based company has grown as government-funded space exploration, including NASA projects, have been hit by budget cuts.
Musk assumed leadership of Tesla Motors in 2008 in order to ensure that electric and other alternative-fuel vehicle technology would continue through the Great Recession. Today, Tesla is a leading automotive technology innovator, and permits other carmakers to use their technology patents in order to advance innovation in the industry.
Musk provided the concept and initial capital for Solar City, which specializes in solar energy services aimed at combating greenhouse gas emissions that most experts believe are responsible for global warming.
As of January 2017, Musk’s net worth is $12.5 billion, and the 45-year-old is not done innovating. He has plans for high-speed rail projects that would allow riders to travel at airline speeds and has proposed the creation of electric aircraft.
The Quotable Musk
Elon Musk encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to achieve greatness no matter what their dreams may be. He also regularly provides insight on what he believes will define greatness in the future, as reported by Inc.com.
Following are some inspirational quotes from Elon Musk:
“I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.”
“Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.”
“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
“Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up.”
“People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working.”
“When somebody has a breakthrough innovation, it is rarely one little thing. Very rarely, is it one little thing. It’s usually a whole bunch of things that collectively amount to a huge innovation.”
“I think the best way to attract venture capital is to try and come up with a demonstration of whatever product or service it is and ideally take that as far as you can. Just see if you can sell that to real customers and start generating some momentum. The further along you can get with that, the more likely you are to get funding.”