Justine Musk: Why Becoming a Billionaire Has Almost Nothing to Do With Determination
By Justine Musk
April 15, 2015
Editor’s Note: An anonymous Quora user posted the question “Will I become a billionaire if I am determined to be one and put in all the necessary work required?” The most upvoted answer was provided by Justine Musk.
One of the many qualities that separate billionaires from the rest of us is their ability to ask the right questions.
This is not the right question.
You’re determined. So what? Of course you’re determined now; you haven’t been racing naked through shark-infested waters yet. Will you be just as determined when you wash up on some deserted island, disoriented and bloody and ragged and exhausted and beaten and staring into the horizon with no sign of rescue?
We live in a culture that celebrates determination and hard work, but let me stress: these are the qualities that keep you in the game after most everybody else has left, or until somebody bigger and stronger picks you up and hurls you back out to sea. Determination and hard work are necessary, yes, but they are the minimum requirements. As in: the bare minimum.
A lot of people work hard, 24/7, and they’re struggling to survive.
How can you *leverage* your time and your work?
Shift your focus away from what you want (a billion dollars) and get deeply, intensely curious about what the world wants and needs. Ask yourself what it is that you have the potential to bring to the world that is so unique and compelling and helpful that no computer could replace it, no one could outsource it, no one could steal your product and make it better and then club you into oblivion (not literally). Then develop that potential. Choose one thing and become a master of it. Choose a second thing and become a master of that as well. When you become a master of two worlds (say, engineering and business), you can bring them together in a way that will a) introduce hot ideas to each other, so they can have idea sex and make idea babies that no one has seen before and b) create a competitive advantage for you because you can move between these worlds, speak their languages, connect the tribes, mash up elements to spark fresh insight until you wake up with the epiphany that changes your life.
The world doesn’t throw a billion dollars at a person because the person wants it or works so hard they feel they deserve it. (The world does not care what you want or deserve.) The world gives you money in exchange for something of equal or greater value: at that level, something so awesome and incredible that it transforms the culture, the way people live and think. Are you or can you get good enough to do that? To create that much value for that many people? There is no roadmap, no blueprint for this; a lot of people will give you a lot of advice, and most of it will be bad, and a lot of it will be good and sound but you’ll have to figure out how it doesn’t apply to you because you’re coming from an unexpected angle. And you’ll be doing it alone, until you develop the charisma and credibility to attract the talent you need to come with you.”
Check out Justine Musk’s answer to “How can I be as great as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson?”
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