Elon Musk became a self-made millionaire at the age of 27, when he sold his first company, Zip2.
By age 41, his estimated net worth had surpassed $1 billion, and today, the SpaceX and Tesla CEO has an estimated net worth of $10.5 billion.
He bought mostly hot dogs and oranges in bulk — and occasionally mixed in pasta and jarred tomato sauce — not because he couldn’t afford to spend more, but as a personal challenge to see if he had what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
“In America it’s pretty easy to keep yourself alive,” he told Tyson. “So my threshold for existing was pretty low. I figured I could be in some dingy apartment with my computer and be ok, and not starve.”
He set aside a $30 food budget for the month. About four weeks later, he passed his own test.
“I was like, ‘Oh, ok. If I can live for a dollar a day — at least from a food-cost standpoint — it’s pretty easy to earn $30 in a month, so I’ll probably be ok,'” he told Tyson.
“That’s great, although I would not encourage anyone to live on $1 a day,” he wrote me in an email. “That would not be super fun. Also, I did this back in 1990, so a dollar went a lot further back then. Would be much harder to do that today.”
I don’t recommend neglecting greens and overloading on carbs for a month, either — but it did give me the confidence that I could probably make it as a bootstrapping entrepreneur and changed my perspective on what truly is possible.
As Tyson said after Musk described completing his experiment: “Not to put words in your mouth, but that’s a starting point to launch anywhere you want to go.”
“Yeah. Absolutely,” Musk replied.
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