Business titans and industry leaders can be too distant, too famous, or too busy to ever give you one-on-one advice.

If you want to understand someone and use their wisdom to craft your own path to success, the best route to take, other than asking them for guidance directly, may be to get to know the ones who have spent the most time with them.

We know Elon Musk as an engineer, inventor, and real-life Tony Stark. When he's not launching rockets or communications satellites -- two of which he sent into space just this month -- Musk is a business magnate in his very own right. As the CEO of SpaceX, Tesla, and Neuralink, Musk has a wealth of experience in company management and founding. He even founded what later became PayPal, which was bought by eBay in October 2002 for $1.5 billion.

On an online question-and-answer website, one user asked, "How can I be as great as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson?"

Much to their -- and everyone's -- surprise, none other than Justine Musk, Musk's wife from 2000 to 2008, offered up an answer.

"Extreme people combine brilliance and talent with an insane work ethic," she responded, "so if the work itself doesn't drive you, you will burn out or fall by the wayside or your extreme competitors will crush you and make you cry."

In her perspective, she wrote, "extreme success" results from "an extreme personality," but this comes at the cost of many other things.

Extremely successful business people, in her perspective, tend to be "freaks and misfits who were forced to experience the world in an unusually challenging way." It's unlikely that they set out initially to primarily become wealthy. "Shift your focus away from what you want (a billion dollars) and get deeply, intensely curious about what the world wants and needs," Ms. Musk wrote. "It helps to have an ego, but you must be in service to something bigger if you are to inspire the people you need to help you."

Ms. Musk's answer illuminated much for many about what it takes to be a mogul. Ultimately, however, she summarized her observations and advice to something quite simple: "Be obsessed. Be obsessed. Be obsessed."

Published on: Mar 16, 2018
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