1. He wants to take us to Mars
Yes, you guessed it right. It’s Elon Musk. I couldn’t have started my list of highly successful entrepreneurs with anyone else, because Elon Musk is such an inspiration for his amazing autonomous learning skills.
Of course, such extraordinary life and achievements are hard to copy, but there are things we can learn from him. Especially when it comes to the way he looks at challenges. The way I see it, and you probably agree on this, Musk seems to be the kind of person who thinks that all questions have answers . All it takes is curiosity and perseverance.
According to a very well researched personal history of Musk put together by Anna Vital this iconic character read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica when he was only 8. We can see that, from an early age, books played an important role in his life. But that wasn’t his only source of inspiration. He was an avid learner of all things that could help him achieve his greatest dream: saving humanity!
Take a closer look at his journey so far by scrolling through Anna Vital’s infographic.
2. He learned English by giving free tours to foreign tourists
Not everyone is lucky to have quick access to information or financial resources for that matter. Jack Ma sure wasn’t that lucky when he was growing up, but he was brilliant and persevering. And that was more than enough.
At age 52, Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, is the first mainland Chinese entrepreneur to appear on the cover of Forbes. As of November 2014, he is the richest man in the Republic of China and 18th richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of over $24 million.
Of course, he didn’t become overnight one of the insanely successful entrepreneurs. It took him years and years of hard work to get where he is today. He often speaks about the mistakes he made, and the lessons he learned, and how important it was for him to get himself an education.
When he was a young student, Jack Ma decided he wanted to learn more about the world. Back in the 70s and 80s, in China there weren’t as many possibilities to communicate with the western world as there are today. Young Jack Ma, who was very solution-oriented, thought that if he could speak English, he would be able to talk to the foreigners who came to visit the country. So for 9 years, he went to a local hotel every day, offering to give free tours to the English-speaking visitors. This way, he could practice his English-skills and learn more about the world at the same time.
Later on, he became an English teacher and a translator, a job that brought him to the US for the first time. This small decision, to become a good English speaker, became the foundation of what Ma is today and of his business empire.
Watch his amazing life story in this interview.
3. He might just be the next Jobs
He owns a Ferrari, he’s a licensed helicopter pilot, and he wakes up every morning next to a former Victoria’s Secret model. This self-taught entrepreneur just got from rich to richer. I’m talking, of course, about Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat.
Some people compare him to Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. Others describe him as an over controlling, arrogant kid who doesn’t know better. But for those who know Jobs’ management history, they know Apple wasn’t run as a democracy. So if this management model worked for Jobs, why wouldn’t it work for Spiegel? Despite the controversy, one thing is for sure: Snapchat is a highly successful product and brands line up around the block to post their content there, even though there is no way they can direct traffic to their website from it. But Snapchat is where everyone is today and that’s all that matters. And Spiegel knows it.
What’s different about Spiegel from other successful entrepreneurs is that he doesn’t know how to code. At all. And for a tech company CEO and founder, that’s something out of the ordinary. But Spiegel excels at something else: design. His design skills helped him build an app that is not about consumption, but about experience.
He learned things on the go and found exceptional “business tutors” in Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Google’s Eric Schmidt. He took their lessons and got out of Silicon Valley to build something essentially different from all the “social media” out there.
Just as his product, Evan himself is work in progress. Here’s how he described himself last year at Recode’s annual Code Conference:
“I try to be a great leader. And for me that’s been going through a process of, not how to be a great CEO, but how to be a great Evan.”
Become one of the successful entrepreneurs
These three phenomenal business people are just a few subjective examples I personally look up to. There are many self-taught successful entrepreneurs out there and we can learn so much from the way they overcome life’s adversities. Which entrepreneur do you look up to and why?