Parenting advice from the mothers of highly successful people

Behind every successful person is a mother. Single moms, strict moms, hardworking moms, compassionate and caring role models, women devoted to their families… The mothers of highly successful people are all different and multifaceted. They are flawed and imperfect. They are caring and forgiving. They are strong and resilient. But the one thing they have in common is that they did their best with what they knew and what they had, which translated into raising prolific entrepreneurs, CEOs, and business leaders.

In honor of Mother’s Day, we’ve rounded up some parenting advice from the women who raised the likes of Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Sheryl Sandberg. From encouraging children to pursue their own interests to teaching them hard-earned lessons or simply leading by example, the nuggets of wisdom below will remind you to celebrate the moms in your life and inspire you if you have kids of your own.

Esther Wojcicki

Esther Wojcicki, journalist, educator, and author of the book “How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results,” raised two CEOs and a doctor. Her last name may sound familiar because of her two Silicon Valley powerhouse daughters: Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube and Anne Wojcicki, co-founder, and CEO of 23andMe. And she actually has a formula for raising hyper-achievers, which she calls TRICK (Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration, Kindness). Wojcicki also believes it’s crucial to let kids try to figure things out on their own and learn how to fail.

Adele Sandberg

Did you know that Adele Sandberg inspired her daughter Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, to write “Lean In”, the best-selling book that evolved into a female empowerment movement? Adele dropped out of a Ph.D. program when she was pregnant with Sheryl and “leaned into her family with her whole heart.” Her constant presence and encouragement helped her daughter carve her career path and fearlessly pursue ambitious opportunities. It’s a simple but powerful lesson: Be there for your kids.

Eve Branson

Eve Branson, the mother of Virgin founder and CEO Richard Branson, had a tough parenting approach. When Richard was six, he started acting up in the car. His mother stopped the car and told him to find his own way to their destination. Though it was a scary moment, he said the experience encouraged him to master his emotions and become resourceful. Eve also did adventurous things like piloting glider planes and parachuting, which may explain her son’s love of extreme sports and risky pursuits. “She was incredibly supportive, lots of love, but every opportunity she had, she would push us to the limits,” Branson told Business Insider.

Maye Musk

Maye Musk is not only Elon’s mom, but she also raised sustainable restaurateur Kimbal and Hollywood filmmaker Tosca. Her main piece of parenting advice is to let your kids follow their own interests. As a single mother, Maye had no choice but to work hard to put food on the table — and she paved the way for her children to become independent and responsible. “My parents treated us like adults who could be trusted, and their influence is evident in how I raised my children. From a young age, my kids helped me with my nutrition business,” she wrote in a CNBC column. 

Katica Herjavec

You may know tech mogul Robert Herjavec as the nicer judge on ABC’s Shark Tank. The CEO of cybersecurity company Herjavec Group credits his compassion to his late mother Katica.

Herjavec shared with Inc. a pivotal lesson he learned from his mom after his family immigrated from Croatia to Canada when he was 8, leaving everything behind to face financial struggles and a language barrier. “I would say to my mom, ‘The world hates me. Nobody’s nice to me. I have no friends, and all these kids have better lives than me.’ My mom would reply, ‘Nobody in this world is better than you, but you are no better than anyone else.’” His mother’s wisdom inspired him to make a name of himself while never forgetting his humble beginnings.

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