When you hear the name ‘Elon Musk’, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

Published: April 6, 2022 at 6:00 am

I recently asked a group of young people, “What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name ‘Elon Musk’?”

Here are some of the responses:

  • Brilliant
  • Genius
  • Visionary
  • Passionate
  • Mad genius
  • Crazy
  • Thinker
  • Leader
  • Saviour
  • impulsive
  • entrepreneur
  • risk-taker
  • hero
  • idol
  • god
  • rich
  • billionaire

I then asked, Why is Elon Musk successful? The responses were variations of the above: “He sees what others do not”; “He is a visionary”; “He is a thought leader” etc.

I appreciate that these questions can only lead to subjective responses and many of the responses (maybe even all of them) are “correct” and describes Musk well. But what is the key differentiator that made him what he is today?

Again an opinion, but based on fact: Elon Musk is hard working. He is extremely hard working. That is what I visualize whenever I hear/see/or read about Musk. And this book – Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance – is responsible for this image. The book is an excellent, inspiring read/listen.


Build a complete financial plan with our Robo Advisory Tool. More than 1000 investors and financial advisors use it!
Get free money management solutions delivered to your mailbox! Subscribe to get posts via email! (Subscribers get exclusive discounts!)


New Tool! => Track your mutual funds and stocks investments with this Google Sheet!

He is supposed to have worked 20-22 hours a day during his first venture X.com. Switching from that to automobiles to space exploration and being an expert in each domain cannot happen without hours and hours of reading and research. He could ruthlessly drive his employees to create better and better products only because he had a clear understanding of what they were doing and what he wants.  Naturally, this led to a lot of friction but he had the personality to push without breaking.

What we see is his money, his success, his flamboyance and his maverick nature but beneath all that is a tenacious hard worker. You cannot dream without backing it up with hard work.

After learning he was the richest man in the world (as of Jan 7th 2021), Musk tweeted: How strange, back to work. I have no doubt that he meant it while also offering us a small lesson on priorities.

Elon Musk Back to Work Tweet screenshot
Elon Musk Back to Work Tweet screenshot

Sure, he is no saint but has plenty of inspirational qualities. What we see in a person defines us, not them.

This reminds me of two instances.

(1) Jim Carrey is a versatile actor, best known for his comic roles. He hails from an extremely poor background. His family lived off a van in Canada, and at age 16, he quit school to become a full-time custodian (a Janitor). Prior to that, he had an 8-hour shift after school helping his father on the same job. (source, plus many others online)

In the early 90s, he wrote himself a cheque for 10 million dollars for acting services rendered and dated it Thanksgiving 1995 ( 2nd Monday of October in Canada or 4th Thursday of Nov in the USA) 1995 and put it in his wallet. Just before said date, he was paid 10 million dollars for Dumb & Dumber. As Oprah Winfrey so rightly puts it in this interview (youtube),

Jim Carrey visualised himself as rich and visualisation works if you work hard

To which Jim replies,

Yes, you cannot visualise and go eat a sandwich!

When his father passed, Carrey placed the cheque in his father’s casket because it was “our dream, together”. Read more: Want To Get Rich? Write Yourself A One Crore Cheque!

People today want to do “smart work” from day one. I don’t see how this is possible unless luck has something to do with it. It is only with experience we learn how to optimise effort. There is no escape from trial and error.

The same reasoning applies to investing and wealth building too. No one knows whether our choices are right or wrong. We will take to take that inevitable chance. More importantly, it is about what we focus on. Do we look at guaranteed returns or tax benefits or recent high returns? Do we suffer from a fear of missing out or regret?

Are we emotional about market losses today or are we emotional about financial independence after retirement? Or do we see ourselves as rich in the long term and ready to face long periods of pain and suffering (poor market returns) while continuing investments? What do we see when we hear a FIRE story? Do we look at the person’s discipline or do we whinge “oh that person went onsite, that is why”

What we choose to worry about decides our fate. There is a good reach why Arjuna among all the Pandavas and Kauravas was able to shoot the eye of the bird.

(2) Do not judge success in terms of success!  Never define success in terms of wealth, salary or education or belongings or even success!

Success is nothing more than the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. – Earl Nightingale.

Progressive realization requires continuous toil. As long as you have a goal and are striving towards it, you are already successful. I am trying to get my 12-year old to appreciate this. He understands the words. The Sooner he understands their true meaning, the happier he will be in life. Read more: I am 17 years old and want to learn investing, help me get started.

The next time we see Elon Musk or someone as accomplished or as rich, let us see past their current social station and be inspired by their journey.

Do share this article with your friends using the buttons below.

Use our Robo-advisory Excel Tool for a start-to-finish financial plan! More than 1000 investors and advisors use this!
  • Follow us on Google News.
  • Do you have a comment about the above article? Reach out to us on Twitter: @freefincal or @pattufreefincal
  • Join our YouTube Community and explore more than 1000 videos!
  • Have a question? Subscribe to our newsletter with this form.
  • Hit 'reply' to any email from us! We do not offer personalized investment advice. We can write a detailed article without mentioning your name if you have a generic question.

Get free money management solutions delivered to your mailbox! Subscribe to get posts via email! (Subscribers get exclusive discounts!)
 
Explore the site! Search among our 2000+ articles for information and insight!

About The Author

Pattabiraman editor freefincalDr M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over nine years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation for promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
  Our flagship course! Learn to manage your portfolio like a pro to achieve your goals regardless of market conditions! More than 3000 investors and advisors are part of our exclusive community! Get clarity on how to plan for your goals and achieve the necessary corpus no matter what the market condition is!! Watch the first lecture for free!  One-time payment! No recurring fees! Life-long access to videos! Reduce fear, uncertainty and doubt while investing! Learn how to plan for your goals before and after retirement with confidence.
Our new course!  Increase your income by getting people to pay for your skills! More than 700 salaried employees, entrepreneurs and financial advisors are part of our exclusive community! Learn how to get people to pay for your skills! Whether you are a professional or small business owner who wants more clients via online visibility or a salaried person wanting a side income or passive income, we will show you how to achieve this by showcasing your skills and building a community that trusts you and pays you! (watch 1st lecture for free). One-time payment! No recurring fees! Life-long access to videos!   
Our new book for kids: “Chinchu gets a superpower!” is now available!
Both boy and girl version covers of Chinchu gets a superpower
Both boy and girl version covers of Chinchu gets a superpower.
Most investor problems can be traced to a lack of informed decision-making. We have all made bad decisions and money mistakes when we started earning and spent years undoing these mistakes. Why should our children go through the same pain? What is this book about? As parents, what would it be if we had to groom one ability in our children that is key not only to money management and investing but to any aspect of life? My answer: Sound Decision Making. So in this book, we meet Chinchu, who is about to turn 10. What he wants for his birthday and how his parents plan for it and teach him several key ideas of decision making and money management is the narrative. What readers say!
Feedback from a young reader after reading Chinchu gets a Superpower (small version)
Feedback from a young reader after reading Chinchu gets a Superpower!
Must-read book even for adults! This is something that every parent should teach their kids right from their young age. The importance of money management and decision making based on their wants and needs. Very nicely written in simple terms. - Arun.
Buy the book: Chinchu gets a superpower for your child!
How to profit from content writing: Our new ebook for those interested in getting side income via content writing. It is available at a 50% discount for Rs. 500 only!
Want to check if the market is overvalued or undervalued? Use our market valuation tool (it will work with any index!), or you buy the new Tactical Buy/Sell timing tool!
We publish monthly mutual fund screeners and momentum, low volatility stock screeners.
About freefincal & its content policy Freefincal is a News Media Organization dedicated to providing original analysis, reports, reviews and insights on mutual funds, stocks, investing, retirement and personal finance developments. We do so without conflict of interest and bias. Follow us on Google News. Freefincal serves more than three million readers a year (5 million page views) with articles based only on factual information and detailed analysis by its authors. All statements made will be verified from credible and knowledgeable sources before publication. Freefincal does not publish any paid articles, promotions, PR, satire or opinions without data. All opinions presented will only be inferences backed by verifiable, reproducible evidence/data. Contact information: letters {at} freefincal {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
Connect with us on social media
Our publications

You Can Be Rich Too with Goal-Based Investing

You can be rich too with goal based investingPublished by CNBC TV18, this book is meant to help you ask the right questions and seek the correct answers, and since it comes with nine online calculators, you can also create custom solutions for your lifestyle! Get it now.
Gamechanger: Forget Startups, Join Corporate & Still Live the Rich Life You Want Gamechanger: Forget Start-ups, Join Corporate and Still Live the Rich Life you wantThis book is meant for young earners to get their basics right from day one! It will also help you travel to exotic places at a low cost! Get it or gift it to a young earner.

Your Ultimate Guide to Travel

Travel-Training-Kit-Cover-new This is an in-depth dive analysis into vacation planning, finding cheap flights, budget accommodation, what to do when travelling, and how travelling slowly is better financially and psychologically with links to the web pages and hand-holding at every step. Get the pdf for Rs 199 (instant download)