How I plan to be like Elon Musk when I grow up
In my younger years, I wished to be like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates, not necessarily because they are extremely rich (Infact, I hate being that rich, it automatically makes many people poor) but it was because of the impact they’ve been able to make globally. Five years ago, after i have grown older and a bit wiser, i started reconsidering my choices.
I first met Elon Musk on a Ted (like in a YouTube video) and was astounded at how he made extremely complex problems he was solving so easy. I am very young, infact i am still in college, and just started the journey into my twenties last two years, but I understand the process of ideation to execution, how hard and painstaking it can be for someone to bring something to reality especially if the person is working where there is no domain expertise and rather rely on others to execute based on the person’s specs. That can be really hard or tough, yes tough is the word.
Of course I don’t godify people so easily, and I used to think Elon Musk was just another tech celebrity who gets overdue respect for raising big money. Yeah everyone knows PayPal but I don’t really want to know the CEO who runs the company that banned my country from using his company back then. Also I got to know about Tesla when I was doing a research about environmental protection bla bla. I discovered this same Musk owns the company, when I got to know Tesla, they haven’t really started making the so called electric cars instead I thought they were using just PR stunts to sell whatever they planned on doing…… So I was just indifferent.
To cut the story short, Elon Musk made Tesla’s electric car models operational and functional, though only in the United States but fine I was vamped to know about all of that and started getting a stronger vantage perspective into his personality rather than what the media paint with glamour and facade.
SpaceX launched last week(the original time of this writing) and I was astounded at the reality of it as I streamed it live from my dorm room in a remotest part of Osun, Nigeria. How daunting the process would have been? How many partnerships would have been made? How much paperwork? How much teamwork? How much sleeplessness? How much things would have gone wrong? How much money and all of that….. All of those questions kept on ringing in my head until I got into a state of nothingness imagining the magnitude of how this would have played in Musk’s head over and over again since let’s say 2002. Where was I in 2002 when someone was thinking of this expensive idea?
Currently I am in my third year in the University and this article is about me being like Elon Musk (not like being exactly like Elon Musk, but attaining and surpassing the level of his drive and success). Elon graduated with his second degree in 1995, and started a company almost immediately called zip2. After that he went on to PayPal and after that SpaceX in 2002, Tesla after that Solar City and then the Boring Company.
That’s insanely awesome, like that’s what I want to be like, I tell Myself. Though our trajectory might not be the same. Here I am in Nigeria, with no opportunity to go to the so called promise land yet, I believe I can become whatever I want to become here without having to go or study abroad. Am also running my second degree, my first was in Journalism and now am studying English Literature.
Though am very enthusiastic about science, I find myself deeply rooted in the Arts. I am not that creative like a painter or something, or still don’t understand how a piece of painting can inspire generations to do more. But all in all, I still want to be like Elon Musk. Not for the fame, not the money, not the intelligence too, but like I said it’s for the drive, the energy, the impact…All of that is what am attracted to.
I happen to be a designer by choice, and the concept of Design has redefined my choices so good that I don’t want to do anything in life without Design in it. Making career choices as a student can be daunting like it is for me now. Though am an active student, with membership in a whole lot of communities and student groups, this I believe will help me align with people of like minds and understand leadership and people building and teamwork to some extent and it is helping of a truth.
My future plans look so funny because I don’t have a plan, I just want to be like Elon Musk, I want to carefully path my career choices and life decisions to align with his but carefully avoiding his mistakes and bad choices so as to be better, but in a different environment.
So far I have been faced with disappointments, firstly, i am from a middle class family in the suburb of Lagos, Nigeria. My family have no tangible asset to fund my personal development other than my University education, and my parents are funding the six of us….. That’s a really good burden to bear so I don’t want to add to it. This has made all of my business endeavours self funded. I had to take extra time to learn needed skillset that’ll be needed in any of my business front so as to cut the cost of hiring someone to do it for me. All through my freshman year, I was basically feeding myself off freelance and family (extended) aid. This didn’t actually pay off much as I couldn’t save enough (I didn’t save at all) to fund my first Zip2.
Secondly, my first company is not PayPal. My first company is far from PayPal and it can’t be as valuable as PayPal. It’s — I want to start a band — yeah music band, like music band that play in parties and events. I want to fuse the local band style we have in Nigeria with that of UK or America,… Like Lukas Graham or Cold Play. Yeah i know it’s crazy…. But I love music, and I really want to explore and express myself. I know how to run an agency like a music label, but I can’t play any instrument yet, the instrument I love best is the Bass guitar. Am wrapping my head around it and as soon as I leave college, am either joining a band right away or creating one….. Don’t worry I would have learnt how to play a guitar by then.
The third — My Zip2, I already started something like this in school, I started during the semester break of my second year. Yeah it’s been tough as I only take my personal savings and few return from it to run it…. But I believe Elon Musk would have done the same. My Zip2 is called PeeredCamp, it’s like a community where myself and my friends teach other guys programming and Design skills. So we have a big vision for it to be something like Andela…. But Andela got $24 million from Mark Zuckerberg and we are just a university startup with just around 20 members, nobody will give us $1 yet. So here we organise Bootcamps during semester break for our peers we are better than. Yeah most of us are good and we’ve work remotely on big projects so we believe if we can develop other guys, it will be fun if we had much tech guys in our community that way. So I think my Zip2 is cool … But no website yet, am too broke to build one, after funding all the logistics for the Bootcamp and all of that, but am sure to build one soon.
So my SpaceX is something am still working on, though I haven’t figured out what it’ll look like perfectly, but I have a rough sketch in my head. Like I said earlier, am broke I can’t afford to start a company, that I can’t find the capital for, this is Nigeria, not Silicon valley, our VC’s are not silly, they won’t fund an idea, they only fund functional businesses..… Like businesses making money already. Here I am with my idea, an e-commerce website for fashion. No it’s not that simple…. This is a niche based commerce site for buying used clothes. A Second hand clothesline, like I get used clothes from Developed countries, I’ll redesign them and sell them cheap. I buy cheaper, I sell cheap so I make little or mearger revenue from the “er” and I scale fast with marketing and the “er” becomes larger and larger.
I know you can’t find a way to relate my idea with SpaceX’s but I find it very relatable. This idea will help reduce clothe wastage and by extension global warming happening everywhere. My research shows the Fashion industry is the second largest polluting industry in the world and that’s so crazy to believe, but it is. So because we want luxury and extravagance, we are making the world inhabitable for our children, polluting the environment and killing precious chemicals important for our livelihood.
SpaceX is doing the same, while they are exploring other places to find life, am planning on making living here on earth longer in a little way I can. So my idea can scale up to that of SpaceX then we don’t need to make clothes again, we just recycle them and make them better and make them into something better till it wears out to become rag. Even the rag recycled to become dust and the dust into something else. That’s better than dumping it into the ocean.
I don’t have an idea what my Tesla will be yet or Solar City or Boring Company, but I believe as time goes by all of these will start to unveil itself. Am ready to sacrifice a lot of things to make the world a better place than I met it as I believe that’s what each and every one of us is expected to do to make the world a better place but along the line we miss it.
Thank you Elon Musk for making your story an inspiration for someone like me.