Elon Musk’s 40 Insights on Achieving True Greatness

Some people imagine the future and a few actually make it happen. Here is why Elon Musk is the latter.

Many people imagine what it would be like to be great someday. They hope to add significance and change the future for the better. There are few of these groundbreaking visionaries in today's world but surely Elon Musk is among them.

Already this South African native has impacted the world in game-changing ways. As founder of PayPal, he created a new way of sharing currency. Next was Tesla, finally bringing electric vehicles into mainstream production. And now, off Musk goes into the final frontier with SpaceX, in hopes of settling Mars someday.

He has often been referred to as a "thrillionaire," a new class of high-tech entrepreneurs looking to use their wealth to make science-fiction dreams into a modern reality. If anyone can do it, Musk can.

If you want to achieve the greatness of Musk, you best start with learning his outlook on achieving. Here are 40 insights to help you blast off.

1. "When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor."

2. "If you're trying to create a company, it's like baking a cake. You have to have all the ingredients in the right proportion."

3. "I think that's the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself. "

4. "The path to the CEO's office should not be through the CFO's office, and it should not be through the marketing department. It needs to be through engineering and design."

5. "A company is a group organized to create a product or service, and it is only as good as its people and how excited they are about creating. I do want to recognize a ton of super-talented people. I just happen to be the face of the companies."

6. "It's OK to have your eggs in one basket as long as you control what happens to that basket."

7. "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."

8. "I think 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."

9. "Some people don't like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster."

10. "Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product."

11. "The problem is that at a lot of big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking. You're encouraged to behave like a little gear in a complex machine. Frankly, it allows you to keep people who aren't that smart, who aren't that creative."

12. "I do think there is a lot of potential if you have a compelling product and people are willing to pay a premium for that. I think that is what Apple has shown. You can buy a much cheaper cell phone or laptop, but Apple's product is so much better than the alternative, and people are willing to pay that premium."

13. "Really, the only thing that makes sense is to strive for greater collective enlightenment."

14. "Great companies are built on great products."

15. "I don't create companies for the sake of creating companies, but to get things done.

16. "If something's important enough, you should try. Even if you -- the probable outcome is failure."

17. "People should pursue what they're passionate about. That will make them happier than pretty much anything else."

18. "Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough."

19. "I would just question things... It would infuriate my parents... that I wouldn't just believe them when they said something, 'cause I'd ask them why. And then I'd consider whether that response made sense given everything else I knew."

20. "It's very important to like the people you work with. Otherwise, life [and] your job is gonna be quite miserable."

21. "Don't delude yourself into thinking something's working when it's not, or you're gonna get fixated on a bad solution."

22. "I'm interested in things that change the world or that affect the future, and wondrous, new technology where you see it, and you're like, 'Wow, how did that even happen? How is that possible?'"

23. "What makes innovative thinking happen? I think it's really a mindset. You have to decide."

24. "Talent is extremely important. It's like a sports team, the team that has the best individual player will often win, but then there's a multiplier from how those players work together and the strategy they employ."

25. "Really pay attention to negative feedback and solicit it, particularly from friends. Hardly anyone does that, and it's incredibly helpful."

26. "Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80-to 100-hour weeks every week. [This] improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40-hour workweeks and you're putting in 100-hour workweeks, then even if you're doing the same thing, you know that you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve.

27. "The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur."

28. "Starting and growing a business is as much about the innovation, drive, and determination of the people behind it as the product they sell."

29. "My biggest mistake is probably weighing too much on someone's talent and not someone's personality. I think it matters whether someone has a good heart."

30. "Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up."

31. "When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars, people said, 'Nah, what's wrong with a horse?' That was a huge bet he made, and it worked."

32. "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."

33. "You shouldn't do things differently just because they're different. They need to be...better."

34. "It is a mistake to hire huge numbers of people to get a complicated job done. Numbers will never compensate for talent in getting the right answer (two people who don't know something are no better than one). [They] will tend to slow down progress and make the task incredibly expensive."

35. "When I was in college, I wanted to be involved in things that would change the world. Now I am."

36. "I wouldn't say I have a lack of fear. In fact, I'd like my fear emotion to be less, because it's very distracting and fries my nervous system."

37. "Life is too short for long-term grudges."

38. "Don't be afraid of new arenas."

39. "I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary."

40. "Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.

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