Elon Musk is one of the richest and most successful men on the planet, with his immense intelligence being the key to how he’s accomplished so much...but how did he get so smart? Let’s explore that question!
Back to the Start To understand how Musk is so smart now we need to go all the way back to the beginning and see the metaphorical seed Musk was that turned into a (symbolic) mighty oak of success. Therefore, let’s start with his birth! Elon Musk was born on June 28th, 1971 in South Africa. As a child, he would get so lost in his daydreams and thoughts his parents had his hearing checked due to his not listening to adults very often! Musk’s parents got divorced when he was 10 and around that time he developed an interest in computers. At only age 12 Musk created a video game called, “Blastar,” he was able to sell at a profit to a magazine that then published the source code and paid him $500--in 1984 money that was a lot! Due to being short and bookish, Musk would at times be picked on in school. At age 15 he had a sudden growth spurt, however, and began learning karate as well as wrestling to defend himself. From this young age it was apparent that when Musk put his mind to something, he worked incredibly hard at it. Whether this was programming with such skill he made an actual video game at age 12 or learning a wide range of martial arts such as Kyokushin karate, taekwondo, judo, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. This dedication to learning continued as Musk entered his collegiate years.
Further Cementing His Skills at College Musk moved to Canada at age 17 in the year 1989 to attend Queen’s University. One reason he left South Africa for his collegiate education was to avoid the mandatory period of service in South Africa’s military residents otherwise face. Musk was able to obtain Canadian citizenship after moving there, theorizing it would be easier to eventually obtain American citizenship as a Canadian in future years. In 1992 Musk was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania and moved there to obtain an undergraduate degree in economics and then another bachelor’s degree in physics. Musk was accepted to the prestigious Ivy League University of Stanford in California and moved there with a plan to study energy physics. However, the internet boom was starting so after just two days as a student at Stanford he dropped out! He created his company, Zip2 Corporation with assistance from his brother, Kimbal. It was 1995 and Musk had officially entered the World of business. Before long, things would never be the same.
Becoming a Pillar of Industry The Zip2 Corporation helped provide online city guide software to newspapers that were trying to break into the then-newer internet. Their, “office,” was tiny and Musk would sleep in the little room most nights as he did almost nothing but work his hardest to make the software among the best possible. Zip2 and its online city guides were a hit. It was so successful that in 1999, a division of Compaq Computer Corporation bought Zip2 for $307 million in cash and $34 million in stock options. Musk had gone from a broke and nerdy programmer to a multimillionaire. He could have stopped there, but his thirst for knowledge and success meant he was only just starting on his road to achievements.
Expanding His Knowledge--and Businesses Keep in mind that Musk studied economics and physics in college. He didn’t study programming or the field that he went into next--online financial services. Musk just was so incredibly curious about the World he would constantly read books and want to learn new things. This desire to learn helped Musk be able to basically, “See,” what the next big thing would be, and Musk foresaw that as the internet grew to be able to pay for things online would need to be streamlined and become easier. Musk founded X.com with this and eventually it merged with a company known as PayPal. Yes, that PayPal. It was 1999 when Musk joined PayPal and in 2002 it was bought out by eBay for 1.5 billion. Musk owned 11.5% of PayPal’s stock when it was bought out by eBay. Musk had been working mostly in the field of programming at this time, but he wasn’t done expanding his learning or businesses. In 2002 he was about to embark on some of his riskiest and soon-to-be most impressive business ventures ever.
SpaceX and Tesla In 2002 Musk founded SpaceX with the goal of using his physics knowledge and business sense to create a company that could explore outer space and eventually take humans to Mars.