To celebrate the end of my internship at Entrepreneur.com, I was kindly taken to lunch by my bosses. “What did you enjoy most while interning here?” one asked. I talked about people I had interviewed, events I had attended and my favorite articles that I worked on.
I also mentioned a piece I had done on Elon Musk, which torpedoed into a statement about how I had become slightly obsessed with him (which I immediately regretted). “Do you like, have a crush on him?” one of my editors asked. Well yes, but that’s not what I was referring to.
During my time at Entrepreneur.com, I found myself on, what I like to call, “Musk duty” -- frequently scrolling through his Twitter feed to read the latest of his witty, sassy and hilarious posts. When he released his “Master Plan, Part Deux,” I was all over it.
Being on self-assigned Musk duty allowed me to start piecing together what makes the man so successful. Not only is he incredibly intelligent -- that’s no secret -- but he has an attitude and an outlook on work that make him unstoppable.
Here are five things I learned while religiously following the real life Iron Man:
1. It’s OK to be a smartass (but only if you’re smart).
Remember that time Musk got in a fight with Jeff Bezos about rockets on Twitter? Or when he called out legendary reporter Carol Loomis? If you’re going to publicly call out Carol Loomis, you best be right.
Musk has no filter and he doesn’t apologize for it -- nor does he need to. He uses his wit as a tool to show customers and critics how real he is. Musk can be a smartass because well, he’s smart.
2. Don’t be afraid to try to be good at everything.
As a college student and an intern, I am frequently asked, “what do you want to do when you graduate?” I struggle with this question -- and it’s not because I have no clue, it's because I want to do everything.
We limit ourselves when we only focus our efforts on what we’re good at. Musk has embodied the post-college attitude of “I want to do everything.”
Not only did he arguably force both the automobile and tech industries to turn their greatest minds towards autonomous and electric vehicles, but he started a space company, SpaceX, just because he could. The man has his hand in everything.
3. Humor is a powerful tool.
If a man worth $12.7 billion has time to be funny, you do too. Musk has frequently captured national headlines by just being hilarious.
On The Late Show he made a sexual joke that even Stephen Colbert had to take a moment to process. Then, of course, there is the occasional Tweet about smoking crack, and a couple follow ups. And some tweets about hamsters. Oh yeah, have I mentioned he really likes to take on the media?
People like humor, so use it.
4. “Blow people’s minds.”
Musk recently announced that Tesla’s fully autonomous car will “blow people’s minds.” A lot of Musk’s grand plans do.
SpaceX has an ultimate goal of “enabling people to live on other planets,” which is a pretty big goal. Then again, so is trying to save humanity from destroying itself here on Earth (by building a car that will drive itself and produce no emissions).
It’s no secret that Musk has grand plans, and has faced criticism because of it -- but it’s the mind-blowing ideas that turn out to be the historic ones.
5. Satisfaction is for losers.
Elon Musk is never satisfied and he never stops. After co-founding PayPal, Musk could have stopped -- he had reached most Americans’ end goal: be rich.
But instead of hunkering down with his money and a couple of girlfriends, the notoriously busy man jumped right from PayPal to starting up SpaceX and Tesla and most recently acquiring SolarCity.
He used his money to keep making money, and that can’t be done by being satisfied.