Elon Musk has looked to revolutionise transportation by introducing fully electric vehicles on a large scale. Focussing on the internet, space and clean energy, the entrepreneur and self-made billionaire – who counts an estimated new worth of almost US$ 43 billion – is widely regarded as an inspirational figure in tech; and he has declared his intention to help humanity by reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption. On the philanthropy front, he is the Chairman of the Musk Foundation and has donated US$ 10 million to the Future of Life Institute.
DATE OF BIRTH
28 June 1971
Pretoria (South Africa)
Founder, CEO and Lead Designer of SpaceX
CEO and Product Architect of Tesla
Founder of the Boring Company and X.com (now PayPal)
Co-founder of Neuralink, OpenAI and Zip2
Chairman of SolarCity
Dedication to space exploration
Efforts to produce affordable, mass market electric
cars and promote sustainable energy
Tesla Roadster, Model S, Model 3 and Semi
Failure is an option here – if things are not
failing, you are not innovating enough
Q: In your opinion, what makes Elon Musk a front-runner in 21st century innovation?
A: I saw a meme that read: ‘What if Elon Musk is an alien trying to get back home?’ – wouldn’t that explain so much?
On a more ‘earthly’ note, his ability to not care what people think of him makes Musk a successful innovator. Extinction is inevitable for the human race, and Musk is trying to save the world with his mind, inventions and passion.
This combination of genius, vision, ego and resources is electrifying. Every time a human mind stretches to that scale, the impact is profound. The evidence is everywhere – from organised religion, science and technology, to art and war.
Q: What lessons can we learn from his career?
A: Connecting old ideas can create brand-new ones, and his work demonstrates the power and potential of joining two disconnected ideas to make something new. Through his work, Musk connects space travel with everyday travel, conservation with cars and the human brain with computers – and PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX are the result.
Moreover, Musk encourages one to “constantly seek criticism. A well thought out critique of whatever you’re doing is as valuable as gold.” This is a particularly valuable attitude for it makes one an eternal student – a quality and perspective that are priceless.
Personally, his ability to be unashamedly himself is what inspires me the most.
Q: Can Sri Lankans in the same field be as revolutionary – and if so, how?
A: Set out to build big ideas that challenge the status quo; assemble the right team and don’t play safe or wait for your turn, or be afraid of criticism. Moreover, don’t worry if people don’t approve of you or like you, or even understand you.
In my experience, there are too many people wanting to tell you why you are wrong or can’t do something, or don’t have the right to aspire to your ambition.
Do what scares you and what scares the competition. You know you’re doing something new, interesting and significant when the haters start ranting!
Alyna Haji Omar
Chief Executive Officer
Malala Yousafzai only recently graduated from university and yet, she’s had a more profound impact on the world than most could dream of. Perhaps being the daughter of an education activist provided the confidence to press forward with her agenda but it in no way diminishes the courage she displayed following an attack on her…
Dame Anna Wintour is widely considered to be among the most influential figures in fashion, earning recognition for her eye for trends and supporting young designers. Beginning her career in fashion journalism with two British magazines, she is credited with reviving Vogue and revolutionising the industry in her role as its Editor-in-Chief. She was also…
Oprah Winfrey’s signature catchphrase (among others) goes something like this: “You get a car! You get a car! Everybody gets a car!” As far as magnanimous TV show giveaways are concerned, Oprah sets the bar. Her sense of generosity has won hearts the world over and the fact that she’s overcome many a struggle in…
Serena Williams is hailed as one of the best female tennis players in the Open Era. Her entry on the court meant a shakeup of the global tennis order. A role model and one of the most recognisable faces in the sport, Williams is also known for her style statements – both on and off…
Justin Trudeau is no stranger to the political arena, being one of only two children to be born into a prime minister in office in Canada. A teacher by profession, his ascension to the role of Canadian PM in 2015 meant he’d carry on the Trudeau dynasty – but with a new age philosophy to…
Greta Thunberg is credited for inspiring an international movement to fight climate change. Launching her campaign in 2018 with a protest in front of the Swedish Parliament House when she was 15, the teenager urged students around the world to join her and inspired more than 20,000 in several countries to demonstrate and call for…
Kumar Sangakkara has been described as an elegant batsman, a reliable wicketkeeper and an astute thinker during his cricketing career – and together with his close friend Mahela Jayawardene, he was the cornerstone of Sri Lankan cricket’s leadership for some 15 years. An iconic brand ambassador for Sri Lanka for more than a decade, Sangakkara…
Michelle Obama is such a popular figure that many of her fellow citizens wish she’d run for office – even if she seems to promptly decline the offer on any given occasion. More recently, the Grammy Award winning former First Lady of the US has inspired people across the world through her memoir Becoming, which…
Barack Obama altered the course of history when he became President of the US – and he continues to act as a symbol of hope for millions of Americans who have faced untold discrimination at the hands of their more privileged oppressors. His presidential successor may be termed the ‘Tweeter-in-chief’ (mainly for his frequent social…
Elon Musk has looked to revolutionise transportation by introducing fully electric vehicles on a large scale. Focussing on the internet, space and clean energy, the entrepreneur and self-made billionaire – who counts an estimated new worth of almost US$ 43 billion – is widely regarded as an inspirational figure in tech; and he has declared…
Angela Merkel is considered the de facto leader of the EU… unsurprisingly so. The record four time German Chancellor, who is a scientist by profession, has often been called upon to play peacemaker in a region fraught with diverse interests. Amid an apparent shift to insularism in neighbouring Britain as well as across the Atlantic,…
Emmanuel Macron assumed the role of President of France as recently as May 2017 and his new age political philosophy is attributed to his election to the highest office in the land. The investment banker turned politician established a liberal and progressive movement – En marche – as part of his presidential bid, drawing the…