When we look at out-of-this-world successful business titans like Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Sheryl Sandberg and Elon Musk we have to ask, what was their childhood like? Who were the people that raised and guided them during those pivotal years to help them become the superhumans they are today?
But very rarely do we get to go straight to the source and ask the parents how they did this but luckily Ladders was given that opportunity. Maye Musk, mother of the CEO and Chief Designer of SpaceX Elon Musk, is a superhuman in her own right. The 71-year-old model, nutritionist and dietitian raised her three children by herself while putting herself through school. In addition to Elon, she is also the mother of Kimbal Musk, a chain restaurateur, and Tosca Musk, a filmmaker and media entrepreneur.
Maye, author of the new book, “A Woman Makes a Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, and Success,” spoke with Ladders about how she reared this business magnate who has a net worth of over $38 billion, as well as her own career.
Maye Musk’s main parenting lesson
It goes without saying that Maye’s oldest son, Elon, has become a household name and wildly successful businessman. Naturally, parents are curious about how Maye raised her children and what she did to make them as driven as they each are.
Maye’s main parenting lesson? Let your children go their own way and follow their own interests.
“Let them go their own way,” Maye said. “If you have one child who’s very artistic, and the other child is a computer nerd, let them go their own way…don’t force them to both do computers or both do art.”
“Don’t try and push them in the way you want them to go for you. I would love for my three children to be dietitians and open offices with me and live next door to me. That’s not going to happen. They laugh when I say that. The thing is they have all gone in their own directions, but they’re doing good for mankind.”
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Today is the one month anniversary of my book🎉🤩 Thank you everyone for your wonderful support and comments🙏🙏🙏 There have been so many questions. Let me answer them. Why did I write this book? Sally Harding and Paige Sisley really felt I had good stories and advice to share. #literaryagents #cookemcdermid Who is my publisher? @penguinrandomhouse @vikingbooks @penguinrandomca Who were my editors? #USA @missemilywunder #Canada @andrea_magyar Who are my international literary agents? #CookeIntl How many countries are translating and publishing my book? Many🤫 Announcing them after contracts are signed 🌎🌍 Who shot the cover? The wonderful @markseliger who photographed me as the oldest “It Girl” for @vanityfair Who made me look so fabulous? @juliaperryh @peter.savic @thetonyabrewer What was I wearing? @therow @lanajewelry My advice? Have an enthusiastic team when you write your 📖🤗🥰🥰 #AWomanMakesAPlan #ItsGreatToBe71
Maye Musk on giving parenting advice to her children
“They are doing similar to what I did,” Musk said, about how her children are now raising their own children. “They all work hard, and their children are going in different directions, and they are just letting them do that.”
“You want your children to be happy and not stressed out because they’re working on a subject that their parents want them to do but they don’t.”
Maye Musk on grandparenting
“I treat them as I would treat my own kids. I make sure they have good manners, they’re respectful of other people. When one wants to play the piano, I listen. When one wants to show me something on the computer, I let them do that,” she said.
While her parenting style hasn’t changed with her grandchildren, her style as a grandmother has changed dramatically.
“As a dietitian I would wear suits to give talks and now I look like a fashionista because I have a team that makes me look absolutely glamorous,” Maye said. “I’m now in fabulous outfits..Louis Vuitton bag and pretty shoes and Balenciaga earrings. I mean, I could barely pronounce those words as a dietitian because it just wasn’t in my field but now I’m in fashion and I have to look like it when I go out…so I’m all done up. And I’m having the best fun with it! I’m looking super glamorous. I never expected that. Especially at 71.”
Maye Musk on reaching your goals
When asked to describe the dreams they had before fame, most models will have pretty concrete and specific answers, but Maye Musk, mother of Elon, Kimbal, and Tosca Musk, is surprised to even be asked that question.
“Oh my dreams, I didn’t have any dreams!” Musk told Ladders, on her way from speaking at the 2020 SHE Media BlogHer Health conference. “I just wanted to feed my kids, and have a roof over their heads, so I wasn’t dreaming at all. I just wanted to survive and pay the rent at the end of the month.”
Even now, Maye prefers to have plans over dreams.
“When I dream, I have nightmares,” Maye said. “I just plan what I would like to do in my life and then if plans don’t work out, I change my plan. Because they don’t work out. They don’t work out the way you want it to go.”
Ladders spoke with Maye to hear about the plans for her career at age 71, her parenting (and grandparenting) advice, and how she currently has the most energy she’s ever had in her life.
Maye Musk on working at 71
Speaking of being happy in your career, Maye says it’s a must.
“I wake up every morning and I’m very happy,” Maye said. “As a dietitian when I had my practice it started at 7:30 in the morning. I was very happy with that because the results were always people who were sad or having food issues and you help them and they change and they become happy.”
In the past few years, Maye has begun giving talks on not fearing ageing, running your own business, and following your own interests.
“You need to pursue whatever makes you want to get up in the morning and enjoy,” Maye said. “When I have a modeling job [Musk is the oldest CoverGirl spokesmodel] and it’s at 5 am, I’m up and I’m working and I’m professional.”
“I love working,” Maye said, and when asked why, she added, “I don’t know, being in demand! I think that’s great…but I’ve always loved working. I like spreading the message of good health. It makes me feel good when other people make changes. With modeling it’s just fun. I mean, I’m made to look absolutely glamorous…who doesn’t like that?”
At 71, Maye is not only creating a career, but thriving in her demand and success.
“In my career, I’m having the best time ever,” Maye said. “I’m excited that my book is going to be published internationally in many countries. Already they want me to come to these different countries, so I’m very excited about that.”
Maye Musk on traveling
Maye was born in Canada but grew up in South Africa with her family, and then moved back to Canada in 1989. She now lives and work in Los Angeles, but is always traveling for work. With the release of her new book, “A Woman Makes a Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, and Success,” Maye is anticipating a few months of upcoming travel.
Maye is thrilled about the opportunity but knows she must remain focused on eating well throughout her travels.
“When I’m traveling I’m very careful. I have to stay focused,” Maye said. “Usually we start at 5 a.m. in hair and makeup, so I’ll order oatmeal or cereal in the morning…or avocado toast. And then I keep snacks in my hotel room so that if I get hungry, there’s fruit, there’s yogurt…I even have juice. Juice is a nutritional supplement beverage, which I enjoy as well so it keeps me going and that’s important.”
Maye Musk on how to have more energy as you get older
While Elon is busy “saving the planet,” Maye finally has time to focus on herself.
“When it comes to aging, a lot of women, not so many men — funny enough men aren’t so scared of aging — but many women lose their confidence,” Maye said. “They have to stop that. They have to continue doing what they’re good at. Women have to start supporting women, and men have to start supporting women so that we can have a happier planet.”
According to Maye, she has more energy than ever because she is much happier than ever in her career.