How To Succeed in Life – Elon Musk’s Ultimate Advice for Students & College Grads

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So, what advice do I have for college graduates? Certainly, I do want you to apply for a job at solar city or Tesla or SpaceX and if not then, if that doesn’t work for whatever reason then apply to jobs at other companies in that arena or try starting a company.

If you study engineering and you figure out how to design new things then it’s relatively easy to start a company you just need to get a few like-minded people with you.

I have to say that the space business is quite it’s quite hard to start a company in space business because it’s such a capital-intensive business So it may be better to do something in Solar power or if you’re gonna do it in cars do it in, as kind of a component supplier for cars or something like that.

Musk has college degrees in business and physics but SpaceX is his first venture in aerospace.

How did you get the expertise to be the chief technology officer of a rocket ship company?

Well, I do have a physics background, that’s helpful as a foundation and then I read a lot of books and talked to a lot of, a lot of smart people.

Don’t just follow the trend you may have heard me say that it’s good to think in terms of the physics approach of first principles which is rather than reasoning by analogy you boil things down to the most fundamental truths you can imagine and you reason up from there and this is a good way to figure out if something really makes sense or if it’s just what everybody else is doing and it’s hard to think that way, you can’t think- think that way about everything it takes a lot of effort but if you’re trying to do something new it’s the best way to think and that framework was developed by physicists to figure out counterintuitive things like quantum mechanics. So it’s really a powerful powerful method.

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And I want to know what is the one thing that has surprised you about your life?

Well, I simply I’m surprised about the whole thing honestly I certainly didn’t expect to be, to be, for any of these things to happen, honestlyYeah, I just you know, I know I wanted to be involved in technology and in fact the only reason I started a company back in 95an internet company was because I couldn’t get it there were only a few internet companies and I couldn’t get a job at any of them I tried to get a job at Netscape and I sent my resume and I tried hanging out in the lobby, but I was too shy to talk to anyone and it was like okay, well I guess I’ll have to start a company cause I can’t get a job anywhere.

I wouldn’t say I’m fearless in fact I I think I fear, I feel fear quite strongly but Iif the if what we’re doing isn’t if what I’m doing I think is important enough then I just override the fear so, but it’s not as though I don’t fear, I feel fear like more stronger than I would like.

I think also people tend to overweight risk on a personal level it’s one thing if you’ve got you know a mortgage to pay and kids to support and that if you were to deviate from your job than well, how are you going to feed your family and pay the rent? Okay, that’s understandable but let’s say you’re young and you’re just coming out of college or coming out of high school or whatever what do you- What do you risk?

You know you’re not gonna starve, I mean. . . It’s really, certainly not in any kind of modern economy It’s so easy to earn enough money just to live somewhere and eat food. I don’t know what other people- what they are afraid of they are mostly afraid of failure I think.

People should be less risk-averse when there’s not much at risk.

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What is education like? you’re basically downloading data and algorithms into your brain and it’s it’s actually amazingly bad in conventional education it’s like it shouldn’t be like this huge chore-like the more you can gamify the process of learning the better.

I always had sort of a slight existential crisis because I was trying to figure out what does it all mean? like what’s the purpose of things? and I came to the conclusion that if we can advance the knowledge of the world if we can do things that expand the scope and scale of consciousness then we’re better able to ask the right questions and become more enlightened and that’s really the only way forward.

What drives you? what is it that when you wake up in the morning do you see a problem and you want to solve it?

The thing that drives me is that I want to be able to think about the future and feel good about that. so that, you know we’re doing what we can to have the future be, be as good as possible to be inspired by what is likely to happen and to look forward to the next day. So that’s that’s what really really drives me is trying to figure out how do we, how do we make sure that things are great?

I’m gonna be so and that’s the unlined principle behind Tesla and SpaceX is that, I think it’s pretty important that we accelerate the transition to sustainable generation and consumption of energy. It’s inevitable, but it’s- it matters if, if it happens sooner or later

And then SpaceX is about helping make life multi-planetary and doing what we can to continue the dream of Apollo and ultimately make contribution to life becoming multi-planetary.

Let’s talk a little more about that I think everyone is very interested that when you say making life multi-planetary. So what’s your vision there?

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You know, I think particularly for Americans you know, like if you think about it America is a nation of explorers. People came here from other parts of the world that you know chose to give up the known in favor of the unknown. So I think exploration like the United States is a distillation of the human spirit of exploration and so that’s why it appeals to Americans so much you know you can see this when there was a shuttle tragedy and seven people died and that’s that’s terrible but, you know a lot of people die all the time but why do we care so much? because it was the dream of exploration that was dying along with those people that’s why.

I mean I thought both Tesla and SpaceX would fail at the beginning you thought? never the less you put all your money in them

I expected to lose it, and well technically what I thought was well I’ll take half the money from PayPal and if I lose half of it that’s okay but then, of course, the companies encounter difficulties and then, I have a choice of either like let the company die or put you know all the money into the companies and so. I really don’t want the companies to die so I put all the money in the companies. and then I had to borrow money from friends to pay living expenses, yes you know just looking just for evidence of exceptional ability and if there’s a track record of exceptional achievement then it’s likely that that will continue into the future.

Well, it really depends on the stakes if the stakes are high, if it’s really important then one should, then I, you know overcome the fear and just do it anyway essentially mean I just drive overrides fear, but I feel the fear It’s kind of annoying, I wish I didn’t I wish I felt it less.

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