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Elon Musk’s advice for young people: Don’t ‘try to be a leader for the sake of being a leader’

Elon Musk offers some unexpectedly applicable professional advice for young people when he’s not tweeting about Mars expeditions, self-driving vehicles, and freedom of expression. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO advised young people not to choose a job based on whether or not it may make them famous in an episode of the “Lex Fridman Podcast” that was broadcast in December 2021 and was hosted by MIT computer scientist Lex Fridman.

Instead, he advised concentrating on something much more straightforward: finding a position that would suit your ability and that you would be excellent at. Musk, 51, advised against trying to be a leader just for the sake of being one. “Frequently, the individuals you want in leadership positions are the ones who don’t want the position”

Scientific evidence supports the notion that power-hungry individuals don’t make for great leaders: Technical University of Munich researchers discovered last year that “very narcissistic CEOs may destabilize teams regardless of circumstances.” Accordingly, 2015 research indicated that modest and sympathetic leaders often enhance team performance. The study was published in the Academy of Management Journal.

Musk urged young people to concentrate on the task at hand and have faith that achieving beyond expectations would advance their careers in order to become that modest and sympathetic leaders. He said, “Wanting to be the center of attention won’t always help.” Try to locate a job or endeavor where your skills and your interests meet, said Musk.

According to the 2015 book “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future,” Musk originally had no intention of becoming a tech entrepreneur after being turned down for a position at Silicon Valley’s Netscape after earning his MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1997.

In the book, Musk admitted to author Ashlee Vance that the reason he probably didn’t get the position was that he didn’t have a degree in computer science, thereby forcing him to turn to entrepreneurship as the only route to a career in the technology industry. In 1999, for around $300 million, he and his brother Kimbal Musk sold their first web software business, Zip2, to the now-defunct computer giant Compaq. Musk utilized the funding to launch X.com, which later evolved into PayPal.

Musk, a serial entrepreneur and software millionaire, has a history of founding businesses and appointing himself as CEO, but in more recent times, he seems to have deviated from his own counsel. He presently holds leadership positions at Tesla and SpaceX, and he also has significant influence over other businesses he started, such as The Boring Company and Neuralink.

Although Musk has a sizable fan base and a sizable following on social media sites like Twitter, he doesn’t openly attribute his many leadership positions to a need for attention. Instead, he said to Fridman, his goal is to be helpful, as is the case for all young people. Musk stated, “I have a lot of respect for someone who works honestly all day to do good things. “It’s really difficult to give more than you take in. I believe the goal should be to attempt to make a positive net contribution to society.

Source: CNBC

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Written by Alex Bruno

Freelance space writer Alex Bruno specializes in covering China's quickly expanding space industry. In 2021, he started writing for SpaceXMania. He also contributes to publications including SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. When Alex was a small child, he first experienced the space bug after seeing Voyager photographs of alien planets in our solar system. When not in space, Alex likes to go trail jogging in the Finnish countryside.

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