Innovator. Disruptor. Game-changer. These words are synonymous with Elon Musk. How else can you refer to the man who founded Paypal, SpaceX and Tesla? For Musk, another “day in the office” means launching a Tesla Roadster into orbit or completing his 50th SpaceX launch. Many of us can learn from this real life Iron Man, whether we’re hoping to be an innovative entrepreneur or employee.
Here are his top 10 Secrets to Success
- Read to Lead: School may end but self-education never has to. “You don’t know what you don’t know. You realize there are all these things out there,” says Musk, who said he read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica as a child. That’s right. While you and I read Goodnight Moon, Musk absorbed an encyclopedia. The trend has only continued as Musk grew older. Can you say the same about your reading habits? Consuming social media posts and articles isn’t the same. Get lost in books that will expand your horizons and give you new insights and ideas. It’s no surprise that the greatest learners are the greatest earners in society.
- Don’t Spend All Your Money On Advertising : Musk doesn’t waste his resources on advertising. Instead, he asks himself: “Will this activity result in a better product or service? If not, I stop those efforts.” As a marketer myself, this one pains me to hear. But I understand Musk’s point. A top-quality product will lead to lots of great word of mouth. Focus on that first and success will follow.
- Take Risks Before Life Gets In The Way: The best time to be an entrepreneur is when you’re young. “As you get older, your obligations increase,” Musk said. “So I would encourage you to take risks now, to do something bold, you won’t regret it.” As you get older, risk-taking also impacts your family and children. Not to mention, you’ll have much less time on your hands. Instead, take risks now when you don’t have these other obligations or time-commitments. Which brings us to the next point…
- Burn the Midnight Oil: Elon Musk is notorious for his work ethic. He often works up to 100 hours a week between his multiple companies. Nobody says you have to do the same but remember Elon next time you feel exhausted. Remember Elon when you feel unmotivated. He’s setting the pace for what it means to push yourself. If you’re not doing the same, you may be sacrificing your potential.
- Create Instead Of Complain: Most people complain about traffic. Not Elon Musk. Instead of moaning about the problem, Musk searched for a solution. This resulted in The Boring Company, which seeks to decrease road congestion by creating a tunnel system. Building the future for yourself is the best way to achieve the outcomes you actually want. This was a lesson that helped Mike Kogan of Wolfie in the development of his company. “Complaints are a sign that there is a problem to be solved,” he says. “Paying attention to complaints is a great way to find innovative ideas that people actually need.”
- Love Your Stakeholders Like Your Family: The best leaders treat customers and coworkers like family. Musk, for example, regularly expresses gratitude to customers through Twitter. It may seem like small gestures, but people take notice. Many executives have learned from Musk’s example, such as Malik Parekh, President and CEO at Spin CRM. “Our most valuable asset is our people,” he explains. “If we take care of them, then they take care of the business. What we do for our people is what we do for your customers. The wins for our employees create wins for your customers.” Like Musk, take time to step outside your corner office to build the cornerstones of your business through employee and customer relationships.
- Plan for Success, But Prepare to Fail: There’s no crystal ball for success. Even Musk couldn’t predict how Tesla Motors would turn out. But as he explained: “If something is important enough you should try even if the probable outcome is failure.” If you care about something, you should put every effort into following your dreams. At the same time, be ready in case it doesn’t work out. It’s easier to recover from a failure if you already have a backup plan.
- Don’t Follow Trends, Create them: “Don’t just follow the trend,” Musk said. The most successful companies focus on creating new innovations. They don’t try to chase the competition. Jonny Vidal, CEO and founder of Viral Contest Marketing, has learned a lot from Musk when it comes to this. “Going viral doesn’t happen by accident,” he says. “Stand out by focusing on what makes you unique instead of chasing others.”
- Build A Feedback Loop: There’s always room for improvement. As Musk explained, “It’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.” Jason Bliss, founder of Healthy Living Network, says he lives by Musk’s advice. “Don’t be afraid of negative criticism,” he says. “It often reveals key insights you’d never discover on your own.”
- Find The Good In What You Do: You don’t have to completely change the world to “do well.” But you should always try to provide real value. As Musk has said, “If you make something that has high value to people…and frankly, even if it’s something, if it’s like just a little game or some improvement in photo sharing or something, if it has a small amount of good for a large number of people, I think that’s fine. Stuff doesn’t need to change the world just to be good.” Look for a positive cause in the work you do. No matter how small, it will help you be more motivated.
Conclusion: No matter your goals are in life, adopting the habits and mindset of Elon Musk will help you get there. The extra effort you make today will have a big impact tomorrow.