Elon Musk: The risk taker and money maker
Recently, the uber-rich Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, got bumped from his #1 spot. As Akshay Sawai writes in Money Control, "The man who wants to put people on Mars has become the richest man on Earth." Elon Musk’s reaction to becoming the world’s wealthiest man, with a net worth of $195 billion, was typical of him. “How strange,” he tweeted. This was followed by “Well, back to work.”
Above: Tesla CEO Elon Musk (Flickr: Steve Jurvetson)
He's come a long way from humble beginnings. Musk once confessed, “When my brother and I started our first company, we didn’t rent an apartment. We rented a small office and slept on the couch. We showered at the YMCA. We were so hard up we had only one computer. The website was up during the day, and I was coding at night, seven days a week.”
This trend would continue. Tesla's CEO is still a notorious workaholic. In 2018, during Model 3 production hell, he often worked 120-hour weeks while sleeping at the Tesla factory. “There were times when I didn’t leave the factory for three or four days — days when I didn’t go outside,” the father of five said. “This has really come at the expense of seeing my kids.”
However, Musk’s advice for a younger generation is more than simply working hard. He's a believer in taking risks. After all, Elon betting big on an electric car company was pretty bold back in 2004. “People tend to overrate risk,” he said of entrepreneurship. “It’s one thing if you have mortgage to pay and kids to support... But if you are young and just coming out of college, what do you risk?”
Above: A look at the path Elon Musk travelled to overtake Jeff Bezos for the top spot (YouTube: Forbes)
Perhaps it's a good thing to have the world's richest person championing a global transition to clean energy? According to Ashutosh Pandey at Deutsche Welle, Elon Musk is "essentially being rewarded for trailblazing a path toward a sustainable future — a journey that traditional automakers have also embarked upon, albeit reluctantly, after having postponed the inevitable for years."
Sure, it's easy to take cheap shots at the billionaires of the world. But, as Tesla (and Elon's) fortune grows, there's at least "one reason [that] must offer a lot of hope to climate activists. It's that investors are increasingly realizing that a company selling cars that don't run on polluting fossil fuels is a key piece of the puzzle in combating climate change."