Justine Musk's answer to How can I be as great as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson?
Joyce Park stashed this in Tech biz
Not only is this post extremely informative but it's an astonishingly large-spirited answer given the apparent bitterness of their divorce. There's nothing here that makes me think he was an easy person to STAY married to, but I can kind of see why she married him in the first place if that's how she felt.
This might actually be the single greatest Quora answer of all time.
My favorite part is when she says anyone who is that obsessed with achievement would not be spending a lot of time reading online advice!
Fantastic exchange in the comments with Justine, greatest response:
I think its also a combination of luck and opportunity. Didn't Elon Musk inherit a large chunk of change? It's easier to take risks in life if you know you'll always have financial backing.
Would you prefer to think that? Because it's not true. He has a ferocious work ethic, immense ambition, a stunning intellect + balls of steel. He inherited nothing.
Dan, thanks for adding that comment.
Not only did Elon start from nothing but he has also lost everything -- including that great woman who wrote the post, Justine -- on more than one occasion.
Several times SpaceX and Tesla were on the brink of insolvency and bankruptcy, yet somehow he managed to drive it through. He didn't always have financial backing, and nothing was guaranteed.
for my money, best part of her answer: They do not fear failure -- or they do, but they move ahead anyway. They will experience heroic, spectacular, humiliating, very public failure but find a way to reframe until it isn't failure at all. When they fail in ways that other people won't, they learn things that other people don't and never will. They have incredible grit and resilience.
My favorite part of her answer was that, in the kindest and most humanitarian way possible, she dug away at the foundations of the question itself until it was clear even to the bluntest intelligence that even asking this particular question in this particular forum was practically a guarantee of LACK of world-historical greatness... possibly even lack of the capacity to understand what greatness is.
Yeah, I just reread her answer and she is overly kind while saying that.
Madeline Stone's summary of Justine Musk's answer:
She recently posted a response to a Quora thread asking: "Will I become a billionaire if I am determined to be one and put in all the necessary work required?"
Her answer is "no," though she says the Quora reader is asking the wrong question.
"You're determined. So what? You haven't been racing naked through shark-infested waters yet," she writes. "Will you be just as determined when you wash up on some deserted island, disoriented and bloody and ragged and beaten and staring into the horizon with no sign of rescue?"
She then offers some advice:
"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 you have the potential to offer that is so unique and compelling and helpful that no computer could replace you, no one could outsource you, 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. 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 because you can move between worlds, speak both languages, connect the tribes, mash the elements to spark fresh creative 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 it perceives to be of equal or greater value: something that transforms an aspect of the culture, reworks a familiar story or introduces a new one, alters the way people think about the category and make use of it in daily life.
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.
Have courage. (You will need it.)
And good luck. (You'll need that too.)"
Wow, this is how Justine Musk felt 5 years ago:
Thanks for sharing this. Justine comes across as smart and reasonable. The world of trophy wives sounds awful.
In the months after our separation, I dyed my hair dark and cut it. I also developed a friendship that gradually deepened into romance with a man I'd known casually for years. One night he took me to a reading of Eve Ensler's new play. "This is power-woman central," he said, as we watched Arianna Huffington hold court in the front row.
As he pointed out other prominent women in the audience, I realized the kind of social world I'd been living in: The females who populated it were the young wives and girlfriends of wealthy men, or the personal assistants who catered to them. Women disappeared after some point in their 30s, and any female ambition other than looking beautiful, shopping, and overseeing the domestic realm became an inconvenience. Being in that audience, watching that staged reading, I felt myself reclaim the freedom to write my own life.
Although I am estranged from Elon — when it comes to the children, I deal with his assistant — I don't regret my marriage. I've worked through some anger, both at Elon for rendering me so disposable, and at myself for buying into a fairy tale when I should have known better. But I will always respect the brilliant and visionary person that he is. I also can't regret the divorce (our case was bifurcated, which means that even though the property issues aren't settled, our marriage is legally dead). Elon and I share custody of the children, who are thriving. I feel grounded now, and deeply grateful for my life.