Good Advice from a Space X Co-Founder

There is no doubt in my mind that intelligence is only a fraction of the ingredients needed to be successful. In fact, I would say that intelligence is more of a tool that enables you to be successful rather than an ingredient itself. I have spent many years as a consultant, an advisor to venture funds, and advising numerous billionaires, serving as a Board Director and as an advisor to tech companies. I also have six children. Through these experiences, I have seen many things that help people succeed and many things that lead them to failure. However, the successes were all based on a single simple formula. Success is based on a convergence of three simple things:

  1. Do what you are passionate about. Without passion, your work is not your love and you can never be your best or be better than others who are running with their passion.

  2. Do something that you are inherently good or talented at. We all have our relative talents but spending your life doing something that is inherently more difficult puts you at a disadvantage to other more talented people.

  3. Do something that creates value and can be sold into a market present or future. Creating a widget that nobody but you wants may be self satisfying, but it certainly is not going to make you your fortune nor lead you to personal or professional success.

Notice that money is not an ingredient in any of these factors nor is intelligence. Admittedly, higher intelligence makes some fields (maybe rockets for example) easier to learn, but by and large these ingredients are never a major factor in success. If you combine these three elements into your pursuits in life, you will be very successful and the money will come on its own. Money is a reflection of the true value that you are creating.

  • Jim Cantrell