Finding Ultimate Success According to Elon Musk and Steve Jobs

Getting Foolish

Have you ever pondered how the world might be different without Steve Jobs and Elon Musk? As an entrepreneur, marketing consultant and professional creator, Jobs and Musk have been two of the greatest sources of inspiration for me. You would be hard pressed to find two bigger game changing entrepreneurs and business leaders in the last 30 years.

I love the epic and powerful quotes that crystallize their thought processes. I believe wholeheartedly that adopting some of their beliefs can create powerful shifts in your life and work perspective.

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” –Steve Jobs, co-founder, Chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc., Primary investor and CEO of Pixar, Founder and CEO of NeXT, 1955- 2011

The resounding words of Steve Jobs still spread hope beyond his lifetime. Given up at birth, a college dropout who was kicked out of his own company, he still managed to cause a rippling disruption in the technology industry. Jobs forever changed the way we communicate and share our lives. Hailed as a tech icon, Jobs was known for his sleek simplicity and intolerance for anyone who wasn’t “brilliant.” He called them “bozos,” often to their face. The driving force of his success: a sincere belief in the excellence of product.

“I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact.” –Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and product architect of Tesla Inc., Chairman of SolarCity, Co-chairman of OpenAI, 1971- present

So says the man commonly referred to as, “The real-world Iron Man.” Raised in South Africa, Musk was the youngest and smallest of his peers. He was misunderstood and bullied. Now he employs a strict ‘no-assholes policy’ over at SpaceX. Musk is on a mission to save the planet, quite literally. Setting up camp on Mars seems the only logical solution to escape our own toxic waste, extinction or runaway global warming. In case you’re curious, he plans to transport 1-million people to the red planet. Check out his plan to colonize Mars using interplanetary spaceships.

Both of these iconic tech visionaries have managed to completely disrupt industries. They’ve changed how we feel about the word ‘impossible.” Each of these men followed a strong sense of personal code. If you’re looking for a role model to max yourself out, look no further. Basking in the success of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk will provide more than ample inspiration.

Should You Quit Your Day Job?

“If today were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you are about to do today?”—Jobs


“People should pursue what they’re passionate about. That will make them happier than pretty much anything else.” —Musk

Jobs was unique, to say the least. He conducted highly-emotional interviews, had zero tolerance for PowerPoint and critiqued developing products in a safeguarded studio garden—often to the sound of New Age and jazz. Despite his unconventional style, he always had his priorities in order and consciously ignored the rest.

Musk is a grand-scale problem-solver, and that makes him happy. At minimum, he works 80 to 100 hours a week. He once described his company as his baby. You do what you have to do to feed it. Nothing else matters.

Lesson learned.  Make your life and what you devote yourself to count.  Life is too short to do meaningless work. Do what will make you happy and become great at it. It’s really that simple. Let Jobs’ reflective question be a daily challenge. If you’re not pursuing something you’re passionate about, why not?

How to Fail Forward

“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” —Musk


 “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” —Jobs

 Just keep innovating! It’ll make sense. That’s definitely a comforting thought when you’re stuck on your couch eating ramen noodles. You won’t achieve massive success with just a few tries. It takes perseverance and a great deal of failing. Just make sure you’re failing forward.

Every single failure is a direct feedback loop, letting you know what doesn’t work.

With that perspective, you can embrace each failure that comes your way.

Knowing how to learn from your mistakes is such an important trait that Jobs and Musk share. Sometimes you have to be a little foolish and take daring risks.

On Personal Progress

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” —Jobs


“I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.”  —Musk

Jobs was a huge believer in perseverance and in going the extra mile. Similarly, Musk’s actions prove his headstrong determination. Sticking through multiple failed—and highly-publicized—rocket launches is the only way Musk made headway with SpaceX.

Everyone can be extraordinary. That means learning to accept rejections. It will probably look like a few long nights of perspiration while the people around you are goofing off. Being extraordinary means seeking feedback and fresh angles. It means being so tied to your sense of purpose that nothing has the ability to phase you.

You have to first know yourself. Seek to discover what you’re inherently created to do. What do you do that makes you lose track of time? What would you spend your time doing even if no one paid you to do it? Look for the crossroads between the skills you enjoy using and the ones people will pay you for. How can you turn those skills into profit or a business? Seek answers, and then settle in. Because the next step is to persevere like crazy.

 Time Management and Satisfaction

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.” —Jobs


“I’ve actually not read any books on time management.” —Musk

If you have studied Pareto’s 80/20 law, then you’ve probably heard of the phrase ‘time revolution.’ When you’ve narrowed down to your most enjoyable, profitable skills and poured yourself into that top 20 percent, then time stops being a limiting factor. That or you’re planning a mission to Mars that keeps you awake at night.

Both Musk and Jobs spent so much of their lives doing something we call ‘work.’ But their work fulfills them. Once you’ve accepted that you’ll likely spend half of your life working, you can seek work you believe in. In the land of opportunity, that’s a highly possible goal for most people.

Focus on What Matters


“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.” —Jobs


“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.” —Musk

Musk is one to talk about goals. He has the biggest goal of all: save humanity by recreating it.

Why should we plan a trip to Mars? Well, it just makes sense to explore the potential of our universe. Musk doesn’t understand why we haven’t already built vacation destinations on the Moon. Crazy or not, he has created a solid reason to get out of bed every morning.

With Apple’s net market of roughly $523-billion, Jobs could’ve been vacationing in serious luxury. He could’ve done so many things with all that money. But he never lost sight of what mattered most to him: his products, his team and his family. Each day was full of product development, face-to-face collaboration and dinner at a long, wooden table with his family.

Their actions and achievements tell of their commitment much more than their words. Reading their quotes, we’re moved by who they are as people. Their secret? Do something you love. Do something that matters. Do something that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning.

And of course, don’t be afraid to be a little foolish.

For more inspirational stories about Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, check out these reads: “Steve Jobs” (biography by Walter Isaacson), “Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs” (by Carmine Gallo), “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” (by Ashlee Vance), and “Elon Musk: The World’s Raddest Man” (Posted on Wait but Why).

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