Elon Musk: Hardships Forged His Success

Elon Musk: Hardships Forged His Success
Elon Musk (Patrick Pleul/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Anne Johnson

Elon Musk is on a mission to change the world. And he wants to take that mission into space. From internet companies to electric cars, Musk captures the imagination worldwide. Some people love him, some people hate him: but everyone wonders what he'll do next.

But how did Elon Musk become so successful? Here are eight life events that helped make Musk the richest person worldwide.

1. He Was a 12-Year Old Tech Entrepreneur

Elon Musk has long been associated with technology, but he was a tech entrepreneur from an early age. Musk first started learning and understanding technology by playing video games. As a result, he taught himself to code. This led Musk to develop his own game when he was 12. He programmed his game Blastar and sold the code to the magazine PC and Office Technology for $500.

2. Musk Was Bullied in High School

During his childhood in South Africa, Elon Musk was a bookworm and wasn't popular in high school.

According to his biographer, Ashlee Vance, he was chased by schoolmates and beaten to unconsciousness. Once, Musk said, his so-called best friend lured him out, and a group of boys attacked him. He had one beating so vicious that he was forced to go to the hospital.

Unfortunately, the beatings went on for years. He didn’t have much of a respite at home. Musk’s father is said to have emotionally abused his children. Once his father, Errol Musk, sat Elon and his brother down and forced them to listen in silence for four hours while he gave them a lecture, according to the Washington Post. Elon Musk and his father are now estranged.

Many individuals who have lived through this abuse would have given up. They certainly wouldn't have built a financial empire. But it appears the resiliency Musk showed just made him stronger for future endeavors.

3. He Studied Physics and Economics

Musk emigrated to Canada as a teen, then came to the U.S. as a transfer student to the University of Pennsylvania, receiving a B.S. in physics. He also graduated from the Wharton Business School with a B.S. in economics. He preferred science and interned at Silicon Valley. He graduated with about $100,000 in student loans.

After his undergraduate studies, Musk started working on a Ph.D. in energy physics at Stanford University but preferred to go into an internet business. So, he dropped out after two days.

The combination of physics and economics set the ball rolling to develop innovative technologies and leverage them to make a profit.

4. He Didn't Stop at $22 Million

With an estimated fortune of $219 billion, Musk is the wealthiest person in the world. He earns an estimated $295 million daily.

But years ago, he could have stopped with $22 million. That’s how much he made in 1999 when he sold his first software start-up, Zip2, to Compaq for $307 million.

But Musk wasn’t done by a long shot. He kept his chips in the game and co-founded PayPal. In 2002 PayPal sold to eBay for $1.5 billion, and Musk, as a majority stock owner, made around $180 million.

He still didn't quit, going on to found SpaceX and lead hugely successful Tesla.

5. Musk is an "Aspie"

While hosting Saturday Night Live in 2021, Elon Musk announced that he had Asperger’s, also called autism spectrum disorder. He said he was the first person with Asperger’s to host the program.
In a Men’s Health interview, Musk explained although he had been bullied for having Asperger's, it ultimately made him successful. A common trait among people with Asperger's is the ability to hyper-focus. Musk hyper-focused on technology. This intense and specialized focus contributed to his success.

6. He Believes in Turning the Other Cheek

In a Babylon Bee interview, Musk said that he believes in the principles of Jesus. He commented that if you go "eye for an eye" instead of turning the other cheek, everyone ends up blind.
This belief probably aided in his success. Instead of dwelling on bad things in his past, he moved forward.

7. Netscape Ignored Him; He Simply Moved On

After graduating from college, Musk needed a job. So he sent his resume to Netscape. Netscape was best known for its web browser Navigator. Musk never heard back from Netscape.

Instead of dwelling on the rejection, he decided to work for himself. Musk went on to found Zip2 with his brother, Kimbal Musk, and Greg Kouri.

Musk developed innovative technology. He held the patents for the first internet maps and online version of the Yellow Pages. This was the cornerstone of Zip2. The patents have since expired.

8. Musk Is Not Your Typical Environmentalist

Elon Musk entered the electric car market because he felt there was a finite supply of coal and oil.  His concern was that the world would run out of these needed resources and collapse.  He wanted to create an alternative with electric energy.

This visionary stance has spurred on a multi-billion-dollar industry.

Yet he is not your typical environmentalist—and in fact, he has called environmentalists "annoyingly wrong" on some issues. In 2021, he said he would not support President Joe Biden's "Build Back Better" Act. And he has said that underpopulation is one of his biggest concerns for the future of humanity.

A Modern Renaissance Man

Some have compared Musk to Howard Hughes, while others think of Musk as a Henry Ford.

Musk is not afraid to take chances. And his obsession with technology has created industries.

Despite the adversity he encountered in his youth, he remained resilient. Indeed, challenges may have given him the strength needed to forge ahead with innovative ideas.

Whatever your thoughts are about Elon Musk, he has a fascinating past and is a visionary regarding technology – both terrestrial and space. That vision and hard work have made him the richest person on earth.

The Epoch Times Copyright © 2022 The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors. They are meant for general informational purposes only and should not be construed or interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation. The Epoch Times does not provide investment, tax, legal, financial planning, estate planning, or any other personal finance advice. The Epoch Times holds no liability for the accuracy or timeliness of the information provided.
Anne Johnson was a commercial property & casualty insurance agent for nine years. She was also licensed in health and life insurance. Anne went on to own an advertising agency where she worked with businesses. She has been writing about personal finance for ten years.
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