What Young Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Elon Musk

This week, despite his best attempts to avoid them, a fascinating billionaire returned to the news: Elon Musk. After announcing his plans to purchase Twitter for $54.20 per share a few months ago and subsequently hoping he could say, “psyche!” and have his pricey purchase disappear, the purchase is back on the table. Here’s how the news unfolded on CNBC.

The eccentric entrepreneur is perhaps one of the most successful examples of “serial entrepreneurship” the world has. After all, he ranks #1 on the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people. So what can an aspiring entrepreneur learn from Musk? It turns out, his successes and failures are equally educational.

Flashy objects aren’t the goal.

When Elon Musk had his first payday from the sale of now-unfamiliar Zip2 in 1999, he celebrated the windfall in quite the flashy way: purchasing a million-dollar car, then having CNN cameras roll as it was delivered.

Looking on as the car was unloaded, Musk said, “My values may have changed, but I’m not aware that my values have changed.”

His girlfriend’s words were a bit more self-aware: “I’m worried we’re going to become spoiled brats.”

Curious about what happened to Elon Musk’s McLaren? Driving with Peter Thiel in 2000, Musk learned about the fleeting value of stuff the hard way: he wrecked it. And it was uninsured.

Today, Elon’s maturity has given him a different approach. He now claims he owns almost nothing — not even a house.

Lighting can strike twice. 

If you work at it, that is. Elon’s history with profitable businesses is so extensive that many don’t even realize where his initial profits came from in the first place. Elon Musk’s first entrepreneurial venture was writing code for a video game called Blastar. A payment processing company and car brand later, it’s clear Elon’s youthful entrepreneurial roots grew into an impressive entrepreneur. His newer ventures are perhaps most familiar, and even more influential – SpaceX, Tesla, and the Boring Company, just to name a few. Think a single big success is all you can attain? Dream bigger, Biz Kid.

Regardless your success, people skills can be a make or brake.

After Elon made his now-famous $44 billion offer to purchase Twitter, an offer almost no other person on Earth was capable of besting, a more youthful instinct took over. He took to Twitter to insult two of the company’s leaders. As if that weren’t a questionable decision on the surface, a look at the deal he just signed makes it even stranger. Elon agreed that any disparagement of company leadership could void the deal. And if the deal is scrapped? Elon will be responsible for a $1 billion breakup fee. It’s a helpful reminder that good old people skills are still valuable, even if you have billions to compensate for them.

As for Elon’s direct advice? A recent quote sums up both his vision and his success: “I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.”