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6 January 2015

Billionaire inventor Elon Musk’s mundane top tip for success

Good news: you probably do it too.

By Ian Steadman

Reddit’s AMA (“ask me anything”) sessions have now long become as unavoidable a PR circuit pit stop as press conferences, TV interviews or book signings. Like Twitter, the attraction is that fans can be sure a celebrity or famous figure is sitting somewhere behind a keyboard, reading the questions as they come in and responding in real-time – but unlike Twitter, there’s no character limit, and there’s the chance to have conversations within conversations, and there are in-jokes.

They also provide a nice (and lazy) way for sites like ours to aggregate the most interesting answers for an easy few hits – but that’s not what this is. It’s just about one answer, given in an AMA from earlier today from Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

Now that Steve Jobs has passed away, Musk arguably occupies the maverick inventor & entrepreneur role in popular culture more comfortably than anyone else. He got tired of waiting for Nasa to get around to going to Mars, so he founded his own spaceship company; he got bored of waiting for electric cars that could compete with the best combustion engine-powered sports and sedan models, so he built his own car company from scratch; he’s got a name like a fictional character, and he was a partial inspiration for Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark in the Iron Man films. He’s proposed a method of firing people in glass tubes at speeds of up to 560km/h because he was frustrated with bureaucratic intransigence over California’s high-speed railway network. He’s worth more than $8bn, but he still wears a sports jacket with jeans and a t-shirt like every other down-to-earth multi-billionaire.

To his credit, he took his AMA pretty seriously, answering some technical questions about SpaceX’s upcoming projects and launch vehicles. He also talks about what inspired him in school, and what he thought of some boots he bought the other week, and that the upcoming Tesla Model 3 “won’t look like other cars“. He also said he sleeps six hours a night, and that he’s a gamer

But of course the thing we really want to know is how he does it – how does he manage hit after hit? What’s his secret habit, as a highly succesful person?

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Turns out it’s this: