This Is Elon Musk's Best Advice for Success – The Motley Fool

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by David Chang, ChFC®, CLU® | Published on July 9, 2022
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Elon Musk says these three things will help you become successful.
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What is Elon Musk's best advice for young people? Musk was recently a guest on artificial intelligence researcher Lex Fridman's podcast. He talked for over two hours about colonizing mars, the future of Tesla, cryptocurrency, and even stand-up comedy and his cameo on Rick and Morty. As the richest man in the world, Musk also has shared his best advice for success, specifically for young people. Here are the three things he says you need to focus on.
"Try to be useful, do things that are useful to your fellow human beings, to the world…Are you contributing more than you consume? Try to have a positive net contribution to society."
Musk admits that this is not easy to do. He uses the example that you shouldn't try to be a leader just so you can have the title or prestige. Musk has found that often the best leaders are the ones who don't want to be one at all and are focused on living a useful life and figuring out how they can have the most positive impact.
"I encourage people to read a lot of books, just read, basically try to ingest as much information as you can, and try to also just develop a good general knowledge…And talk to people from different walks of life and different industries, and professions, and skills, and occupations, like just try. Learn as much as possible."
From an early age, Musk has always focused on expanding his knowledge. By the age of 8, Musk was reading 10 hours a day. He ran out of books to read at the library, so he decided to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. According to Musk, reading the encyclopedia is a "super fast shortcut" to figuring out what subjects you enjoy. You will never know what you are interested in unless you know those subjects exist. After reading a few paragraphs on a topic, you can just move on if you are not interested. Reading a broad range of topics can help you find areas where there is "an overlap of your talents and what you're interested in."
"…if you have a zero-sum mindset, then the only way to get ahead is by taking things from others…But this is false…It's much better to work on adding to the economic pie. Like I said, creating more than you consume."
Musk says there is a lot of "pie" to go around. People with a fixed-pie mindset focus more on taking things from others. Unfortunately many people operate from a zero-sum perspective without knowing it. Based on Musk's experience, the people he has seen do morally questionable things are the ones who generally have this perspective.
To have a "grow the pie" mindset, you should celebrate the success of others. There is no need to always be in competition with others while believing that resources are scarce. Musk says that promoting others grows the pie. Using academia as an example, many people see research funding as a zero-sum game. But by celebrating each other's wins, you can get more people excited "about AI, about physics, about mathematics," and as a result, there will be more funding available to everyone. Everyone wins when you help each other.
Elon’s best advice for success focuses on investing in yourself and helping others in their successes. He emphasizes that people should do things that are useful to others and to contribute more than they consume. Based on his personal experience, Musk notes that the more you read, learn, and talk to different kinds of people, the more your mind will open.

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David S. Chang, ChFC®, CLU® is an award-winning entrepreneur and financial planner with over two decades of experience in the personal finance space. He is a graduate of West Point and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard. He has an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
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