Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford Professor, Google X founder (self driving cars, Google Glass, etc), and CEO of Udacity recently did a AMA on Reddit. He had some very interesting things to say about what drives him:
The thing that worked best for me is to be relentlessly driven by the desire to solve problems I really care about, and to be open to changing my mind along the way when I learn new things. A lot of successful entrepreneurs do this. They pick a vision of something that's important, and work as hard as they can to make it happen. Act as if you already know that you won't fail. What would you do if you knew that you wouldn't fail?
And have a healthy disregard for rules. There are way too many rules, and they usually have only one effect: to slow down those how are active.
And finally, Sebastian talks about education:
I am a strong believer in learning by doing. I believe you can't lose weight by watching someone else exercise. It's really hard to learn by watching someone else solve problems (and lecture about it).