Entrepreneurs: 5 Things We Can Learn From Elon Musk

“Going from PayPal, I thought: ‘Well, what are some of the other problems that are likely to most affect the future of humanity?’ Not from the perspective, ‘What’s the best way to make money?'” – Elon Musk This article will be full of Elon Musk quotes because he’s a big thinker and sets humongous goals. One of the challenges of establishing goals is that a lot people have a fear of going after the inner ambitions. That main fear is mostly driven by failure. “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” – …..Elon Musk Throughout the years I’ve noticed that people really aren’t serious about their ideals or ambitions. That may sound like a harsh statement, but I’m guilty of this as well. I’ve had tons of ideas that I “thought” could change the world, but they’re just that, ideas. There was no guts or actions behind those ideas…maybe they weren’t important enough to me. I believe that if I tried to validate most of my ideas that all of them would have come to fruition. I doubt they would all be successful, but you never know until you try. “If something’s important enough, you should try. Even if probable outcome is failure.” ……Elon Musk So let’s talk about goal-setting. There are thousands of thoughts and quotes about writing down goals for the future. Goals are definitely something you need in business, but I believe it all starts with you first and what you want for your future. You then build your personal future into your business future. When I was just 14, my mother introduced me to one of my first mentors. I’d had other mentors along the way, but I just didn’t know it at the time. People often admire the materialistic possessions that others have, but when you’re fourteen, I think it’s amplified. I remember meeting this guy that my mother introduced me to. He was tall, with a sharp haircut, a custom suit, and I distinctly remember his shiny Mercedes. All I remember thinking was “this guy has everything that a pro athlete has.” At the time, youthful arrogance told me I was a great basketball player and would make it to the big time as an NBA player, needless to say that I didn’t make it to the big time. Nonetheless, when I met Marty, I was a little apprehensive. He was stern and seemed very intense. I started to question my mother’s motives for leaving me with this guy, who happened to be her boss and the president of her company. The Talk Marty and I met several times. I always felt like I was in some kind of trouble, because he always seemed so somber and serious. He constantly talked about his goals. I knew what a goal was, but he made it seem like goals were a key to Star Trek infinity. When we first met, he said, “The key to success is having a plan with goals reduced down to the ridiculous.” I thought to myself that seemed simple enough. Then, he scoured around in his black leather briefcase and thumped this black binder on the table and stared at me as I try to figure out what to do during this awkward silence. He said, “Do you know what this is?” I reply, “um, a binder,” as any smart-mouthed teenager would say. Hey, this guy couldn’t tell me anything I didn’t know because teens of course know it all. After another few moments of deafening silence, he says, “Rich, I am where I am today because of this binder.” He’d captured my attention now. He said, “Go ahead take a look.” I flipped through the binder and a lot of the pages had aged and turned yellow. It was a very methodical and detailed list of what he wanted to accomplish in life. There were pages of a car, of his name as president, of a big check made out to him, but all the pages I looked at listed his goals and when he would accomplish them. I was amazed and asked him if there was anything he hadn’t accomplished yet listed in that book. He told me, “Sometimes you have to adjust your goals accomplishment date, but I’ve always completed my goals and then set higher ones.” I didn’t really know it at the time but as I look back, Marty truly gave me the foundation that I strive to live my life by now. We talked about personal development, compound interest, real estate investing, sales commission, becoming an executive, helping others and most importantly about imagination. When it was time for me to leave, I had my own goal book with a guide on what I needed to do. I still have my notebook, which I add to and it has aging yellow pages to share with the next person. One of the most important things I learned was that you have to have imagination! “You want to have a future where you’re expecting things to be better, not one where you’re expecting things to be worse.” Elon Musk It seems as though people stop dreaming about what could be in their lives, as they get older. We stop asking the question, what if? Before I start my goal setting session I try to make sure that I’m submissive to my imagination. Marty described it as a dream list, but when you add deadlines, they become goals. I think people are petrified of imagining or dreaming outside of their comfort zone. Any time that I help a person with goal setting, we start with the “dream list”. I push them to really think of the wildest thing that could ever happen to them that would give them the greatest fulfillment. “It’s one thing to make history, which we did with Falcon 1 getting to orbit. That’s nice,” says Musk. “To change history, is much harder.” Musk tells SiliconValley.com This part of the goal setting process generally takes the longest amount of time. People have a hard time letting their imagination fly or even admitting to themselves that there are ginormous things they’d like to do or accomplish. I was terrible at this when I first started. My list would be something like: I want to make more money I want to be here in my career I want my business to be successful I want a nice house Now that I look at it, there are so many things wrong with this list. I mean the first thing I see are vague wants without deadlines or specifics. Of course, all of it was materialistic, but what do you expect from a teenager? I recently listened to a podcast on TED Radio Hour about Creativity and where it comes from. On the show, one of the guests said, “We’re often educated out of our creativity.” This rings true for me, but I think the same applies for others as well. I tell people when setting up their dream list to let their imagination run wild, but they often come back with a list like the one I made when I was younger. Before you start setting mundane goals for mediocrity, try to write out a dream list. Act like a four year old. Kids have no fear, think it and write it down. It doesn’t mean it’s a life sentence that you have to do it, it just means it’s something you dream about, think about and that it may happen. The thing about a dream list is that they’re usually goals that you’ll continue to work on in the future or not. Having that huge goal in front of you pushes you to work backwards to figure out the best way to accomplish it. Here are some of my dreams that I’m working on. I’ll go first with a couple, since I’m already working on my goals, they still need dates: -Help get rid of homelessness -Create the Internet of ONE thing -Help my wife, Amberly, with her research of evaluating HIV virus in breast milk for pregnant women on HAART with undetectable viral load here in the U.S. Most people wait until the beginning of the year to start setting goals for the year; however, in my opinion, that’s too late for business and personal goals to be set. I like to start setting mine in October, so I can have my plan ready to go. You should also check your progress monthly if not weekly. I use S.M.A.R.T goals as a template to goal setting, but do not let this stifle your creativity for larger goals. Let’s do a quick rundown of S.M.A.R.T. S.M.A.R.T GOALS Specific- It’s a lot easier to make a plan for goals that are very specific. If you leave your goals vague, then you will never be able to measure your progress. Bad example: I want to make more money in 2016. Good example: I want to make $49,312.00 by December 31, 2016 Measurable- Measurability is the same as accountability to me. People generally dodge setting specific goals because it holds them accountable to making a plan and taking action. Bad example: I want to make more money in 2016. Good example: I want to make $49,312.00 by December 31, 2016. You can make a plan of how you can make this happen. Actionable- Your goals should have action verbs , such as “quit,” “run,” “finish,” “eliminate,” etc. and not “am,” “be,” “have,” etc. Bad example: Be more in writing/blogging Good example: Write a paragraph every morning at 7:30am for 21 days. Realistic – This part of the acronym always throws me off because I think it allows people to limit their thought process. You need to understand your own strengths and weaknesses. I know that I can’t sing worth a lick, so I’m not going to say that I’ll be on The Voice anytime soon. Outside of that, the only limitation of realism that I put on my goals is time. Bad example: Become fluent in Spanish in one month. Good example: Become conversational in Spanish in six months(then you would put the date. I.E. June 16th,2016) by focused learning from 4:30 to 5 every day. Time bound – “A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.” ― Harvey MacKay In my last post, I talked about how execution and putting a date on your goal will keep you accountable. Bad example: Lose weight. Good example: Lose 17 pounds by 1/1/2016 by eliminating sugar, eating clean, and exercising for 45 minutes, 4 times a week. Categories that I use:

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Entrepreneurs: 5 Things We Can Learn From Elon Musk

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