Elon Musk is the CEO of two companies valued at $100 billion or more and one of the most followed business leaders in the world. Becoming the CEO of Tesla Inc TSLA and SpaceX and helping lead the direction of both disruptive companies took years of Musk’s life and also included long working hours and some frugal tendencies.
Here’s advice from Musk for young people on being a leader.
What Happened: As the leader of SpaceX and Tesla, Musk could have a good sense of what it takes to lead a company.
In a December 2021 episode of the “Lex Fridman Podcast,” Musk shares some career advice.
“(Don’t) try to be a leader for the sake of being a leader,” Musk said.
The Tesla CEO said the people that make good leaders can often be people who don’t want to be leaders. Musk went on to say that people shouldn’t select their career based on if it will make them famous.
Musk said people should find a job that they’re good at and have the skills to make it work.
“Try to be useful, do things that are useful to your fellow human beings, to the world.”
Musk said it can be hard to be useful, but people can ask themselves if they are contributing more than they are consuming.
“Try to have a positive net contribution to society.”
Musk encourages people to read a lot of books and ingest as much information as they can.
“Try to also develop a general knowledge. Try to learn a little about a lot of things.”
Why It’s Important: Musk had an entrepreneurial drive at a young age that led to creating the software company Zip2 that was sold to Compaq for $300 million and starting X.com, which eventually became PayPal Holdings PYPL.
A lunch meeting that was set to talk about space and hydrogen planes led to the creation of Tesla and a focus on electric vehicles, something Musk hadn’t originally planned.
Along with leading SpaceX and Tesla, Musk also founded companies like Neuralink and The Boring Company.
Musk’s story is one of success, but also shows that he has followed his own path and not one crafted by others.
Despite being the world’s richest man, Musk has also been frugal at times with his money. Ex-partner Grimes said Musk did not live like a billionaire and sometimes lived like he was “below the poverty line.”
Musk believes people shouldn’t do something because someone tells them to do it, which could be important life and career advice for people both young and old.
Despite being known as a demanding boss looking for a strong time commitment, Musk is generally loved by workers at Tesla and his other companies, including those that have been fired. When it was announced that Musk was seeking to buy Twitter Inc TWTR, the number of people looking for jobs at the social media platform rose.
Musk's advice could create a new generation of leaders, and also a generation of people with knowledge and skill sets to work for other great leaders.
Photo: Created with an image from TED Conference on Flickr
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