Thursday, June 19, 2008


The other day, I was sitting in a waiting room and happened to pick up the December 2007 issue of INC Magazine. The cover story entitled “Entrepreneur of the Year” described the amazing life of Elon Musk, a young man born in South Africa who has done more in his 36 years on earth than a whole truckload of the rest of us put together.

The article described him as a “wicked smart” man, built like a tight end, who drinks eight cups of coffee and several Diet Cokes a day. He’s the one that when others say “it’s impossible” says, “I think I can do it.” Wicked smart.

He is the originator of PayPal, which he sold to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion (that’s billion with a “b”). He also started another media company called Zip2 which he sold for $307 million. But he doesn’t just sell multimillion or multibillion dollar companies and retire to Monte Carlo. He has since established two more companies: SpaceX, an aerospace startup which is aiming to cheaply haul astronauts to the international space station by 2011; and SolarCity, which within 12 months of startup was the number one solar panel installer in the country.

His most ambitious dream is to build a human colony on the planet Mars—seriously. He honestly, truly thinks he can colonize Mars.

He’s married—his wife just recently gave birth to triplets. He now has five boys under the age of 4 years.

Elon Musk is the supreme multi-tasker. If we took any one part of his life (whether it’s father of five, CEO of SpaceX, head of SolarCity, originator of PayPal, executor of his multi-million dollar financial portfolio, future Mars colonizer), any of us would be a stressed-out basket case. But he does them all in a mind-boggling juggling act that involves computers and Blackberries and private jets and a Telsa electric roadster. Plus, of course, the added advantage of being wicked smart.

Unfortunately, there is one problem with reading an inspirational story about Elon Musk in INC Magazine; it’s easy to feel like a wicked underachiever. I think I need to start drinking more coffee and Diet Coke.

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