8. Elon Musk
You want to hear about some stress? Remember the year 2008? Yeah I do. I was graduating the next year into the worst job market in recent American history. The economy was in shambles. Imagine being a CEO at the time. Big companies can wobble and fall very easily. It can be a vicious cycle when your company shakes out and a bunch of your best people leave. Then you perform even worse the next two quarters and even more of your good people leave.
Back in 2008 with the global economy on fire and multiple major legacy car companies going bankrupt, it was a terrifying time to be a car company CEO. Not only was Elon Musk’s baby, Tesla Motor Company, struggling during this time, he was also going through a divorce. Talk about chaos with lots of zeros on it dragging you through a hurricane by the heart strings. Elon persevered through it by staying calm and making smart, unemotional decisions along the way.
At the Dublin Web Summit in 2013, he explained his relationship with fear and shared a secret of great success that most Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have: They just aren’t afraid of failing. “Fear is finite, hope is infinite. We are afraid of failing, but it doesn’t stop us from trying. People should certainly ignore fear if it’s irrational. Even if it’s rational and the stake is worth it, it’s still worth proceeding.”
It has never been easier to fail in the history of the world. What I mean by that is the price of failure is not what it has been in times past. You are probably safe and secure in a way that past generations could not have dreamed of. People like Elon Musk are disruptive. The had a word for disruptive people in the Middle Ages. They called them heretics. You could get burned at the stake for being disruptive in those days. That was the price of failure. Today even our bankruptcy laws are unbelievably lenient, written to favor the bold, the risk takers. Whatever your big idea is: just get one or two good partners and floor it!