The following individuals have lived lives that exemplify many of Upgradable’s principles, especially intentional living, lifelong framing, life congruence, boldness, and first principles thinking.


“I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.”

What: Founder, CEO, CTO, and chief designer of SpaceX; CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink; and co-founder of OpenAI. A centi-billionaire, he became the richest person in the world in January 2021.

Why: A vision to revolutionize transportation through Tesla; to make humanity multiplanetary through SpaceX; to solve the problem of traffic by building underground tunnels through Boring Company; and to wirelessly connect the brain to the digital world through Neuralink.

How: He focuses on thinking from first-principles. He also takes high expected value risks and reportedly works 80-120 hours/week. He believes that when something is important enough, you should do it even if the odds are not in your favor. He applies focus and intensity to the subjects that interest him and uses that same drive to go after the things he wants. His previous successes in building Zip2 and X.com (now PayPal) enabled him to raise money to build his current companies.

Image credits: Britannica



“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

What: A political leader and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He emerged from 27 years in prison to lead South Africa to freedom from white rule. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. Widely regarded as an icon of democracy and social justice, he received more than 250 honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize.

Why: A lifelong vision of freedom and equality for all.

How: From his prison cell, he strategically assessed his moves and anticipated reactions. He held firm to a morally just vision, using his ability to influence a sequence of key strategic decisions over time (decades, in his case) in order to bring about truly remarkable results. He showed how complex societal forces, uncompromising values, and key moments of decision-making can be woven together to transform a political party, a nation, and even the world.

Image credits: Britannica



“If you double the number of experiments you do per year you’re going to double your inventiveness.”

What: Founder, CEO, and president of Amazon, founder of Blue Origin, and owner of The Washington Post. He is the first centi-billionaire on the Forbes wealth index.

Why: A vision to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online through Amazon; and a vision of a population living in space colonies through Blue Origin.

How: He applied the Regret Minimization Framework when he decided to take the big leap to start an online bookstore. He stands firm in his convictions even when others doubt him. He has a knack for innovation and a continuous desire for experimentation. He has very high standards and a winning leadership style. He remains focused on strategic business diversity and building a culture that’s right for his company.

Image credits: TIME


Bill Gates

“To win big, you sometimes have to take big risks.”

What: Co-founder of Microsoft Corporation. During his career at Microsoft, he held the positions of chairman, CEO, president and chief software architect. He was a pioneer of the microcomputer revolution in the 1970s and 1980s. Later in his career at Microsoft, Gates pursued philanthropic endeavors through Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Why: His foresight and vision for personal computing have been central to the success of Microsoft and the software industry.

How: His parents encouraged him to think independently and provided a values system that encouraged hard work, ethics, consideration for others, and determination. He leveraged this framework to become a legend based on the expert knowledge he collected, the emotional intelligence he developed, the passion he had for industries and communities, the visionary ideas he proposed and executed, the social network he created for mentorship, and the personal power he passed on to others.

Image credits: Britannica



“I like to play the game hard. To me the most important game of all is the game of life, to try to elevate the standard of living of whom you’re trying to help.”

What: An agricultural scientist, plant pathologist, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. Known as the “Father of the Green Revolution”, Borlaug helped lay the groundwork for agricultural technological advances that alleviated world hunger.

Why: To put the new cereal strains into extensive production in order to feed the hungry people of the world – and thus providing, as he says, “a temporary success in man’s war against hunger and deprivation,” a breathing space in which to deal with the “Population Monster” and the subsequent environmental and social ills that too often lead to conflict between men and between nations.

How: An eclectic, pragmatic, goal-oriented scientist, he was in constant search for more fruitful and effective methods and solutions, while at the same time avoiding the pursuit of what he called “academic butterflies”. His distinguished career epitomized the qualities of leadership, scholarship, scientific achievement, international cooperation, mentoring, and passion.

Image credits: Britannica



“It is important to make a dream of life and a dream reality.”

What: A physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She is remembered for her discovery of radium and polonium, and her huge contribution to finding treatments for cancer. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields.

Why: To open new fields in medicine, engineering and science.

How: She had a persistent devotion to her research. She was not deterred by physical or personal hardships. Her notable qualities were a love of science, high level of intelligence, and strong conviction that her work would provide important benefits for humanity.

Image credits: Wikipedia


Isaac Newton

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

What: A mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, author, and a key figure in the scientific revolution. He formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation, built the first practical reflecting telescope, made seminal contributions to optics, and shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for developing the infinitesimal calculus.

Why: Pursued a life of self-discovery and exploration that helped uncover many inventions and scientific laws.

How: He was largely self-taught and self-educated. He had a meticulous and systematic approach to organizing and categorizing information, knowledge, experiments and ideas. For two years during the black plague, he was locked up at home studying complex mathematics, physics and optics. He practiced a combination of dedication, single-mindedness, and focus, blending curiosity and exploration with silence and solitude.

Image credits: Wikipedia



“Inspiration leads to invention. Tenacity is the breeding ground for inspiration. There can be no invention in the absence of tenacity.”

What: Inventor of instant noodles; Founder of Nissin Food Products Co., Ltd. and the creator of the brands Top Ramen and Cup Noodles.

Why: To create foods to serve society; to dedicate his entire life thinking about food in new and creative ways.

How: In a shed he built in the backyard of his home, he began to test and research “ramen that can be quickly prepared and eaten at home with only hot water,” setting his five development objectives. He conducted non-stop development alone for an entire year, without taking a single day of rest and sleeping only four hours a night on average. After months of trial and error experimentation to perfect his flash-frying method, Ando marketed the first package of precooked instant noodles. Later on, he developed and globalized a new product: noodles in a cup that can be eaten with a fork.

Image credits: Nissin



“Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.”

What: A theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity and his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2, which has been dubbed “the world’s most famous equation”. He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”. He published more than 300 scientific papers and more than 150 non-scientific works.

Why: The quest for a way to combine gravity and electromagnetism into a single elegant theory.

How: He had a clear view of the problems of physics and was determined to solve them. He always had a strategy of his own, visualizing each stage that led to his goals. He regarded his major achievements as mere stepping-stones for the next advance.

Image credits: Wikipedia



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