On Friday the 8th of January 2021, Elon Musk became the richest man in the world with a net worth estimated at 189 Billion Dollars (source: Forbes). He overtook Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and is more than 50% richer than Bill Gates (122 Billion Dollars) who is now in fourth position on the list of the world's richest. At a time when many people are struggling to stay financially afloat in economies ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, some will probably ask themselves the following question: "What the hell did I miss?". In other words, how is it possible that in an era where everything is crashing, one man is able to start the new year by capturing this highly enviable position? Why him? Why not everyone else? The stock market valuation of Tesla was the key factor that enabled this to happen and while many people will shout that it is not reflective of the company's true value and that the valuation is not hard cash, it does not change the end result: a 49-year old man is now worth almost as much as the Gross Domestic Product of New Zealand (Source: Wikipedia).
Elon Musk is certainly not an ordinary person. It can be safely assumed that his talent, vision and work ethic are immensely more developed than those of the average joe. At this point, it would be easy to claim that his incredible success is solely due to these qualities. Well, no. These attributes are nothing more than the base of the rocket that lifted him to where he is now. There are millions of people that are hugely talented and hardworking...and who are absolutely nowhere in terms of what their potential can achieve. That's a fact. The media and society never pay attention to these individuals because they do not have a story to sell. Most of them have either played by the rules or bent them and, in both cases, ended up short. So how did Elon Musk avoid this fate? There are many ways to explain this but I will limit myself to one factor: his sense of timing. Every time that he got into a business game (PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX...), he seemingly did so when not many people were paying attention and left everyone behind with the exponential growth of his ventures. It sounds simple enough, and there is probably a lot of luck involved, but it is the holy grail that is chased by all very ambitious people on earth. They are all wondering how to connect their abilities and skills to an emerging trend or sector that will hopefully explode. Achieving similar success to that of Elon Musk will mean being first in a new game before it gets crowded. Being second or third will not be enough.
What does "The Impossible New Divide" have to do with all of that? Well, it looks like we have entered an age where chasing average success is proving to be incredibly punishing. Average success looks like this: a job, a spouse, one or two kids, a nice house, a few pleasant vacations every year...you get the idea. The average keeps getting lower while the exceptional keeps getting higher. Winning for the average joe no longer means progressing beyond his current station but doing his best to avoid slipping lower. This is where the divide becomes impossible: you cannot have the majority fighting to maintain its status quo while a tiny minority is fighting for better rankings on the Forbes Rich List. You know you have a problem when aspiring to be the next Elon Musk seems to be the only way out...unless of course the share price of Tesla crashes and burns over the coming months. Who knows?
My latest novel, Market Dystopia, is available on the following links: