Elon Musk’s Top 10 Rules For Success

Elon Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa. His father is South African and his mother is Canadian. He moved to Canada when he was 17 and studied in Queen’s University in Ontario. In 1992, Elon transferred to the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the College of Arts and Sciences, and a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from the Wharton School of Business.

At age 24, he began his entrepreneurial aspirations by starting a company. Over the years, Elon took the position of CEO, CTO, product architect, or investor of companies in the industries of Internet, space exploration, electric cars, renewable energy, and artificial intelligence. Today, he is estimated to be worth over $11 billion. Forbes lists him as #15 in the richest persons in Technology, and in the 21st position of the world’s most powerful people in 2016.

The 10 Rules For Success

Elon Musk has been in the spotlight for having a successful professional career. He has been interviewed and invited to speak many times on different occasions and venues. He shares many ideas and principles, but some rules more frequently than others. From Evan Carmichael’s YouTube video, here is the top ten that helped him become one of the most influential persons of our time.

1. Never Give Up

Elon Musk, as an entrepreneur, also had his share of setbacks. SpaceX experienced failures on its mission to resupply the ISS. A rocket failure that exploded after a launch destroyed a cargo capsule intended for the space station. However, this did not stop him for continuing what he envisioned his company to be and what it aims to provide. Today, his company is the largest private producer of rocket engines in the world. It has received contracts from NASA to develop US astronaut transport capability.

2. Really Like What You Do

He suggests going into a profession, career, business or undertaking that one naturally is attracted to. He believes that if a person really likes what he is doing, even though he suffers failures and setbacks, he will not be easily discouraged. Also, a person who has genuine interest in a project or field will naturally gravitate towards it, will be focused to it and will not be easily distracted.

3. Don’t Listen to the #LittleMan

Elon recommends that when people have set their minds into doing something great, they should avoid listening to those who will try to stop them. Some of their friends may try to discourage them out of their own fears. In this case, it is best to stay away from these negative influences that will try to hold people down or minimize their chances of doing great things.

4. Take a Risk

He believes that younger people are in the best situation to take bolder risks. Those who have just graduated from college or those who are just starting with their careers have the best opportunity, simply because they may only need to worry about themselves. As they grow older, and have a family, they now have to consider other people that may be affected by their decisions.

5. Do Something Important

When Elon invested in Tesla, he was not entirely sure that the company will succeed. However, he believed in the vision of the founders that electric cars do not have to be unattractive. He also got involved in the design of the cars themselves. In short, because he believed in the idea, he should at least give it a try even though the most likely outcome is a failure.

6. Focus on Signal over Noise

He believes that companies should be able to distinguish on which efforts directly contribute to the betterment of a product, and which efforts do not. Once people have identified which ones are contributing to a better product, they should focus on that. Efforts that do not necessarily make a product better is considered noise, and should be stopped.

7. Look for Problem Solvers

Elon gives advice on what to look for when hiring, and he recommends looking for the problem solvers. To know who these people are, he asks questions how they solved their particular problems several layers down. He believes that the people who are able to describe what happened up to the deepest level are the ones who were really involved in solving the problem. Otherwise, those who were not really involved would not be able to tell.

8. Attract Great People

A company is just a group of people, according to Elon Musk. And the most important thing in building or joining a company is to attract great people and to be with them. He believes that the success of a company is largely determined by how talented, hardworking, and how focused cohesively in a good direction these people are in creating a great product.

9. Have a Great Product

He advises that in whatever people are doing, they should have a great product or service, with emphasis on great. In offering a product or service in a market where there are existing competitors, that product should be much, much better than the others. It cannot be just a little or slightly better. Otherwise, consumers will just prefer the trusted or familiar brand.

10. Work Super Hard

In starting a company, Elon warns that people should be ready to work ‘super hard’. From his own experience, he describes ‘super hard’ as working hard every waking hour, every day, seven days a week for a time, especially when he was starting. He made sacrifices against comfortable living in order to put resources in aid of his business goals. He believes that the person who worked doubly hard will, in the end, get twice the work done.


People who are successful today, such as Elon Musk, did not rise to the world spotlight because of uninterrupted triumphs, one after another. They all experienced setbacks, but they were resilient enough to get back up and try again. In fact, they tried many times, and in the process, they learned many things also. These ten rules are not the only rules for success, but we hope that learning ten more things will help get you on your way.

Jose Maria Delos Santos

Jose is a subject matter expert and member of the writing team for Project-Management.com and Bridge24. He has written hundreds of articles including project management software reviews, books reviews, training site reviews, and general articles related to the project management industry.