Maye Musk, the 70-year old grandmother of 10 and mom to Elon, Kimbal and Tosca Musk, shared her parenting and entrepreneurial philosophies she passed on to her SpaceX son.
"I don't stop my kids from doing anything they think is right," Musk said to Forbes. "As long as you're doing something that is good for the future, then I think you should remain positive and do it."
Musk helped her two sons, Elon and Kimbal, launch their first business together, Zip2, by giving them $10,000 from her own savings. The boys moved to Silicon Valley for their company, and Musk would fly from eastern Canada to northern California every six weeks to see her sons.
When Zip2 received its first big investment from venture capitalists, Musk took her sons to a celebratory dinner.
“I said, 'All right, we're going to the best place in Palo Alto for dinner,'" she said. “We went there and I said, 'This is the last time you see my credit card.'"
At Musk's 50th birthday party, her two sons gave her a wooden house and promised that one day they would buy her a real one. And when Compaq bought Zip2 in 1999 for $307 million, they did.
Elon went on to launch X.com, which eventually became PayPal and was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002. He is now CEO of car company Tesla and CEO and founder of SpaceX, a rocket manufacturer looking to revolutionize space travel.
Maye credits the work ethic she passed down to her sons to her own parents.
“My parents were entrepreneurs. They ran their own business, and my brothers and sisters and I started working when we were about eight years of age,” she said. “We would do their monthly bulletins and photocopy newsletters, and then put the stamps on the envelopes.”
Musk and her family moved from Saskatchewan, Canada to Pretoria, South Africa in 1950. Musks's parents owned and worked in their chiropractice practice next door to their home. Musk had four siblinbgs, including a twin sister.
She and her twin sister worked as receptionists at the chiropractice office before and after school. Musk also began modeling at age 15 -- all while pursuing a degree in dietetics.
“Because I was a model, I was very proud, and I wasn't going to fail,” she told Forbes. “I said, ‘I don't wanna be the dumb blond. I'm going to study sciences, and I'm gonna pass it. Even if it's in another language.’ And I did.”
In the last year, Maye Musk has appeared in a Swarovski ad with Karlie Kloss, walked the runway for Dolce & Gabbana, appeared in Vogue Korea, Britain, Germany, and Australia, and been named a Covergirl. She has also continued her career as a dietitician, giving wellness talks in Los Angeles.
But Musk claims her greatest achievement is having her three children, with whom she's passed on her wisdom.
Her advice for all those pursuing entreprenurial careers:
“It is a long process and you have to survive through that time,” she said. “Work long hours. If you are unhappy at your work, change it, even if it means you're financially strapped. Be open to trying new avenues.”
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