Elong Musks tips:

  1. Work hard every waking hour
  2. Do everything you can to attract great people.  Either join a group you respect or gather great people.
  3. Focus on making the product better.  R&D over advertising.
  4. Don’t reason by analogy, instead reason from fundamental principles

Bonus tip:

  • Now is the time to take risks.

When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  Now that I’m working harder, I’m seeing that the type of drive it takes to have great financial success is extreme, obsessive, and excludes many options from life.  Autobiographies and biographies again and again explain the incredible focus, determination and sheer number of hours put in.  I watched a 30 Rock re-run last night, and Jack and his type A personality girlfriend broke up their torrid affair due to it conflicting with their work schedules.  They were already married to their jobs.

That’s a common theme in the push for success.  There are only so many hours in a day, and you can’t build a flying all terrain supertanker.  If you want to make a machine do one thing better than all other machines, that machine is going to specialize.  If you want great business success then you must specialize your whole life towards that.

If you want to start a company, and have it be great, Elon Musk says that you need to “Work hard, every waking hour”.  He used the example of dedicating every single available resource to the task at hand.  He then built on the original idea of working hard, and explained that to succeed it’s essential to find other people who can also work hard.  He again developed from the original idea of working, hard, and talked about the aspect of hard work that is focus;  dedicate every available resource to the primary focus, which is the product.  He then moved on to explain HOW to think when working hard.  Be original, don’t follow the herd, don’t think by analogy, reason from first principles.  And then again, restating how to work hard; take risks.  Taking a risk means putting up more than you want to lose, in a non-certain gamble.  Going all in.

Put every available resource towards the single minded vision.  And then gather great people.  And keep doing the same.

The super wealthy are known to have gone all in many times.  Risking everything.  Elon has done that, and had uncertain times where his investments were at serious risk.  Rupert Murdoch, and many other big names have done that.  Success is not a certainty, and great success comes from a series of great risks.  I’ve heard wealthy men explain that they realize this, and so consciously opt out of the push for great success.

Great success comes from rinse and repeat.  1. Focus and work hard.  2. Build an organization.  3. Dedicate every available resource to greatness and growth.  4.  Repeat.

Elon could have retired with the 22 million dollar check he received for selling Zip2 when he was 24.  He could have retired again at 31 with the $165 million he received for his share of Paypal.  Instead he rinsed and repeated.  And again.  At 44 he’s worth 13.5 billion, and is not slowing down.  He doesn’t want to be holding a fishing pole as a lifestyle.  He wants to be working.  On SpaceX and Tesla and Solar City and OpenAI and his plans for a vacuum tube transport system between major cities in California.  Sometimes he talks about Mars.

I was reading the wallstreetplayboys.com site a few weeks back.  When I first read them a few years ago it did not resonate with me.  They seemed too extreme.  They seemed to only speak towards the already wealthy, or those who had made it into or graduated from top Ivy League colleges.  But this time around I was struck by how their value system was unshakabely solid.  They want wealth, and are pragmatic about it.  They detail exactly what it takes to get real wealth.  They have very practical recipes.  And their methods are extreme.  They explain that every 15 minutes counts.  Productivity and focus.  They are hard core about it, suggesting limiting reading of blogs to something like 15 minutes per week.  Explaining how to squeeze out an extra fifteen minutes of productivity at the office.  They have many tips, and also explain in detail how to leverage money to having success with top shelf women, but what is most striking about their vision of a life well lived is how intensely focused it is.

They aren’t fucking around.  They exclude from their circle of friends anyone who isn’t either a protege, a mentor, or already wealthy.

When normal people look at the successful, we see something so different that it strikes us immediately as not normal.  It’s so odd that it seems sick.  How can these people who are already rich keep focusing on making more money?  Isn’t that just greedy?  Why can’t they see the wisdom of the fable of the Mexican fisherman?  The goal of life is to be idle in a tropical location with a fishing pole in hand.

The wallstreetplayboys warn against becoming too type A, and to devote time to a social life.  Their prescription is well rounded.  And yet it’s still intensely focused.  Even social time is a type of focus; it’s time spent for a purpose.

I’ve been a workaholic entrepreneur for decades, and have occasionally been successful for a small operation, earning over $1000 per day working with no employees.  Or over $500/day with just one secretary who did all the real work.  I’ve also had long periods of poverty.   I’ve lived semi-retired, and I’ve lived doing nothing but work.  I’ve had a staff of 11 before, and had modest success before folding the company after a major client didn’t pay his bills.  I’ve had periods of having 1 or 3 or 5 or 8 staff.  But I’ve never really built an organization before.  Having employees is nothing like having an organization.

When most netrepreneurs talk about hiring staff, they talk about creating standard operating procedures and outsourcing work to low cost workers, hiring and firing ruthlessly, promoting the best grunts to managers.  That is not an organization, and it is not a vision that can lead to greatness.

It can lead to a balanced, fun, life well lived, with more than enough money.  But not to greatness.

Every wealthy business owner has always said that they are good at attracting and managing top talent.  Top talent works in a corporate structure, using tried and tested business management methods.

Hard work, and human resources.  Sacrifice.  Broad peripheral awareness while maintaining tunnel vision focus.  Making every fifteen minutes count.  Taking big risks.

That’s the story that most people who achieve greatness tell.  They explain this as a recipe.

To most people it will not sound like a recipe.  It will sound like an interesting narrative.  A piece of entertainment to passively watch, like a youtube video.  It might produce a brief emotional fix of inspiration, which most people can’t help but mistake for something actually valuable.

These stories are not shared as entertaining narratives.  They are not shared as inspiration.  They are recipes.  Do this, and then this can happen.