How likely is it that you will have a billionaire child? And two? If this is already extraordinary, hitting the bull’s-eye with all the brood defies any logic. But Maye Musk (Canada, 1948), the mother of these geniuses, is also an atypical woman. At 59, he did something that changed his life: he stopped dyeing his hair. And at 62, she dared to appear nude on the cover of New York magazine. Those who do not believe in coincidences will attribute much of the success of his famous son Elon –founder of Tesla and PayPal, among other companies– and from his other two offspring to the way he has raised them and the example he has set them. At 73 years of age, he has become a supertop in which the most stylish brands are competing today, but this has not always been the case. She started her modeling career at 15, got married very young and what she thought was going to be a fairy tale turned into a nightmare. She escaped from a husband who began to mistreat her the same day as their honeymoon, She raised her children on her own as a catalog and plus-size mannequin and, in between, managed to train as a nutritionist. “I never treated them like dependent children. I never told them what they should study, I didn’t check if they had homework or had done it, because that was their responsibility. On my 50th birthday, they gave me a little house and a miniature wooden stroller. that one day they could buy me both, “he says in his autobiography, ‘Una mujer, un plan’ (Roca Editorial). Twelve months later their children sold Zip2, the company that they had started thanks to the 10,000 dollars that their mother had given them, all the savings of your life. Today we know that Maye was not wrong in trusting the crazy ideas of her children. Knowing his exciting life, in which he has had to reinvent himself many times, is to understand how to become someone truly influential in the world.
You have been an enterprising, fighter, self-made person. Where do you get all that strength?
My parents. They worked so hard that we only saw them when they came back, at six in the afternoon, just for dinner. They taught us to be autonomous people. What’s more, I started looking for a life when I was 8 years old, I helped them send their newsletters. And the money I made from that I used to make pretty dresses.
Are they your inspiration?
Above all, my mother. She was strong, calm and wise, although my brothers and I didn’t appreciate how great she was when we were little. Can you imagine taking five brats through the Kalahari desert for three weeks in search of the Lost City? My parents were amazing!
Really, your childhood has been peculiar, full of great adventures, some to the limit, in that plane in which you were traveling. Would you dare to live experiences like this now?
It’s funny, because people think that I am brave for having set up my business in the eight cities of the three countries in which I have lived, but my parents were more adventurous. I suppose they taught us to take risks, although always being prepared to take them.
How would you define yourself, how have you changed over the years?
Now I can say that I am a successful, confident and happy woman. But getting here has not been a bed of roses. I also know what it’s like to go through times when you’re scared and your self-esteem is on the rocks. Many times I have felt like I was on a running treadmill and couldn’t stop if I wanted to survive.
And, despite all these pitfalls, you transmit a great deal of optimism. How do you get excited like this?
And how not to do it? In recent times, a lot of wonderful and amazing projects have come up for me. The truth is, I can only be grateful. Social networks have projected me into the world.
Do you handle yourself well in that ‘online’ environment? You like?
I love social media. Many of my works have come to me through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I strive to have my profiles active, because it is the only way to remain relevant. The world has changed, we no longer depend on other people – although I have magnificent agents – to promote us, we ourselves are capable of sharing our talents and having control over our own future.
You have been a model for many years, but you have come back in a big way in your mature days, something unthinkable a few decades ago. How has this industry evolved?
Who was going to tell me then! In my younger years I worked a lot as an editorial model and also on the runway, but the truth is that I was surprised a lot – and I love it – that now there are not so many stereotypes. I am very happy with this diverse way of understanding the sector.
Thinness is no longer an obligation, that has also changed. But you’ve been through that imperative of having to fit one size and you know what it’s like to suffer from eating disorders. How important is your physique?
I still worry about my diet, although only for health reasons. If I’ve learned something, it’s that being a dietitian doesn’t give you willpower, but it does give you knowledge. I have gained 30 kilos on more than one occasion, because I am not thin in constitution, so I must control what I eat and not overdo it. It is not easy, but it is worth it.
Talent is a word that is sometimes used very cheerfully. What it is for you?
I am a scientist who works with very talented artists, there are many people who have this quality. When I am doing a campaign, I see that there are a lot of people around to make me fantastic. The makeup artist, the hairdresser, the stylist, the photographer … they bring out the best in me, and that is talent. I really appreciate the great capabilities of these professionals and I let them do what they consider best, because they are the ones who know. You can’t pretend to be good at everything, but you can be good at something. I am an expert in health, and, by my knowledge and my experience, I am able to talk about different topics, such as aging, gender equality and the entrepreneurial spirit. And, in addition, they tell me that I move well during photo sessions …
How do you explain that you have had such innovative children? Why are you such a successful saga?
I have worked very hard to be successful and overcome the adversities that I have encountered. I have dedicated myself to caring for people, to counsel my patients as best I can, and to celebrate their achievements with them. And I think that, in some way, I have been able to be an example for my children. They also want to do good, contribute things, there is the key.
And, without a doubt, they have succeeded … in a big way.
I am very proud of all of them. My daughter Tosca has created the streaming platform Passionflix: she shoots romantic films in which actresses receive the same salary as their male colleagues, and the stories she tells always have a happy ending. Kimbal has started several restaurants, with the idea of bringing produce from the farm to the table, thus helping local farmers. In addition, he has founded an NGO, Big Green, so that school-age children can grow their own fruits and vegetables and learn to eat healthy. As for Elon, he’s saving this planet; has made every automaker decide to go for electric cars after the success of Tesla. And already his SpaceX project is literally out of this world.
Do you think that success is something that you have to work on or, rather, does it have a high component of luck?
I always say that the harder you work, the luckier you get. That explains why I have an interest in this magazine.
When you separated from your husband, you lived through very difficult financial times, as you have counted. Does this make you more sensitive, now that you have no money problems, in difficult situations?
Going through hardships is much better than living a continuous hell every day, believe me. It doesn’t matter if you can’t afford to go out to dinner, go to the movies or the hairdresser, or get your nails done: being happy with your family and being at peace is much more important. In my case, until my children sold their first internet company, I did not have a nice house nor did I feel financially secure. Hopefully the vast majority of people can get to this situation before they turn 50!
Your children have created important innovations in different sectors. What legacy would you like to leave to yourself?
Very simple: be a good person and do good.
We live in a world that evolves at breakneck speed. Are you afraid of changes or the opposite?
The future seems to me, simply, exciting.
What do you like least about today’s society? And, from your experience, what advice would you give to the young people of the new generations who are a little lost?
When I do interviews in different parts of the world, I am very often reminded that women are not treated the same in many areas of life and especially in the work environment, and this has to change. Half of company presidents and CEOs must be women. I think that, in this way, there would be less corruption and fewer wars. We should at least try …
How can you combine being one of the most recognized and sought-after dietitians with your numerous advertising campaigns and also having time for yourself?
I have learned to say no. I always want to help everyone and I get involved in a thousand things, but I can’t keep doing it. I have realized that I need time to be home and sit with my dog and watch television. That seems like a luxury to me!
Do you maintain the level of curiosity from when you were a child?
Yes. One of the things that I still love is exploring the world, I am truly passionate about travel. In fact, I have been several times to the south of Spain and I have in mind a long stay, spending more time in Madrid and visiting its surroundings.
Besides that, what plans do you have on the horizon?
Visiting a lot of different countries, but I’m waiting for this pandemic to give us a little respite and for moving to be something one hundred percent safe. Now we have to be patient and take all kinds of precautions, because health is the most precious good.
* Makeup: Nicola Brittin (Saint Luke). Hairdresser: Federico Ghezzi (One Represents).
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