VISION ’21 Keynote Speaker Spotlight: Maye Musk and the Art of Winning
Maye Musk — international bestselling author, model, and dietician — raised three children as a single mother, all of whom have gone on to forge successful careers doing what they love. And ‘successful’ is an understatement.
Tosca is an award-winning filmmaker who founded her own production company that brings beloved romance novels to the silver screen. Kimbal is a forward-thinking restaurateur who runs a nonprofit dedicated to establishing “learning gardens” in underserved schools throughout the U.S. And then there’s Elon, one of the richest people on the planet, a man whose various entrepreneurial endeavors are pushing the very boundaries of what we think is possible.
So how did she do it? Maye Musk gets that question a lot. People want to know what her “secret” is for molding uber-successful human beings. To be fair, it would be nice to know something like that.
But when asked about her kids, Musk will just smile, maybe laugh — a big, genuine laugh full of joy and humor — and she’ll downplay her role, wave off the question, or tell you something along the lines of: “I let them go their own way.”
But that’s just Maye Musk for you. She’s not one to brag or draw attention to herself. She’d rather get things done than philosophize about how to get things done. But make no mistake, Musk is no ordinary human being. She’s extraordinary, and that’s what allowed her to raise three successful children as a single mother, who, at times, had to work five jobs just to make ends meet.
So what is her secret? How did she find the strength and resolve to raise her children with barely enough money to get by, earn two master’s degrees, forge a modeling career that has spanned more than five decades, all while running her own dietician practice?
At VISION ’21 later this month, you’ll have an opportunity to hear Maye Musk talk about her amazing life, a life filled with hardship but defined by triumph. It’s going to be an incredible conversation that we truly expect to touch the hearts and minds of many business owners who need a lift after a tough 2020.
Before the big event, we want to share some thoughts on why Maye Musk is an exemplary role model for entrepreneurs in the IT field — and anyone else looking for advice on how to tackle life with more courage, resilience, and enthusiasm.
She Knows Her Values
Maye Musk never pushed her children down any particular path. She let them pick their own interests. But she did make sure of one thing: that they developed certain strong core values. In her recent memoir and advice book, A Woman Makes a Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, and Success, Musk writes: “I brought my children up … to be independent, kind, honest, considerate, and polite, to work hard and do good things.” Musk says the same thing in interviews — that she focused on instilling her children with a moral compass, but let them use that compass to forge their own way ahead. Or, as Musk puts it, with her characteristic directness and lack of pretension, “Teach your children good manners. But let them decide what they want.”
Business owners need values — both for themselves and for the organizations they lead. Values aren’t just something you put on your company website. In fact, values are everything — the be-all-end-all of your business. They’re the reason your company exists in the first place. They’re what you care about most deeply.
Money isn’t a value, because we don’t want money for its own sake; its value is purely instrumental, in that we only desire money because we can trade it for other things (concrete goods like food and clothing, as well as more abstract good like ‘more time with our family’ and ‘freedom to travel’). So you don’t value money — not as much as what it can give you, at least — but what do you value?
If you don’t have a clear idea of what your values are, you’re going to have trouble finding the motivation and energy to work hard on your business — year after year after year. You run your business in order to make money, and you make money in order to … If you have trouble finishing this sentence, it means you’re not working toward a clear goal. You’re just … working. Treading water.
How effectively can you really expect to grow your business if you’re not working toward something bigger than yourself — something more meaningful than money that gets you out of bed each morning and lets you attack the day with purpose?
Be like Maye, and know your values, because at the end of the day, they’re all that matters.
She Knows How to Live with Uncertainty
What is it to be an entrepreneur?
To exist in a continuous state of uncertainty — and embrace it. This definition isn’t complete, but it captures what it arguably at the very core of business ownership. Well, successful business ownership. In other words, if you’re running your own organization, get used to uncertainty, because it comes with the territory. Since eliminating uncertainty isn’t on the table, your choice is simple: learn to tolerate — or even embrace — the feeling of uncertainty, or let it fill you with fear, doubt, and hesitation.
Maye Musk knows a thing or two about facing down uncertainty. She became a single mom at thirty-one years old, and has had to, over the course of her life, start over in eight diﬀerent cities across three countries and two continents. There were points in her journey when she didn’t know how — or even whether — she would be able to make enough money to put a roof over her children’s heads and clothes on their backs. But she never let uncertainty paralyze her. When times were tough, she focused on what she needed to do to improve her situation and that of her three children. And then she did it.
This should resonate with a lot of business owners. Think about your IT business. Are there things you know need changing, which you haven’t changed because you’re paralyzed by uncertainty — intimidated by all the “what ifs” that come with any decision to try something new?
What would Musk tell you to do?
Take the first step, that’s what. Let’s say you’ve all but committed to doing a complete overhaul of your business’s documentation practices, but you just can’t seem to find the gumption to get started — to overcome your inertia and fear and dive into the unknown. What should you do?
Well, first of all, it’s good to have a plan. But as Musk points out in her book, “Your plan doesn’t need to be a five-year plan. If you’re always thinking too far ahead, it can become difficult to make that first step.” Starting is the most important part of making any kind of significant change. When doubt and anxiety press in on you from all sides, take a deep breath, and make the first move. Then, step back, and focus on your next move.
The advice is simple, yes, but then again, most good advice is. The difficulty doesn’t lie in understanding, but following it.
She Knows How to Push Through Pain
Maye Musk is one tough cookie. That is beyond dispute. As a single mother, she worked up to five jobs at a time to provide for her family and still had to follow a strict budget, for many years doing without luxuries of any kind. At one point, she and her three children shared a one-bedroom apartment; they slept in the bedroom, she took the living room couch.
If you’re a business owner, you should be taking notes. In today’s world, being tough is perhaps an underappreciated trait, but the truth remains: successful people have grit. In fact, there are multiple studies that suggest grit — which some psychologists define as a combination of passion and perseverance — is a better predictor of success than IQ, SAT scores, or where you went to school.
Why is grit so important to running a business? Because entrepreneurs have to fail. If you want to make it big, strike it rich, shake up the industry, etc. — you have to fail, fail, and fail some more. Winners don’t always win; winners fail and try again.
Interestingly, taking things too seriously can prevent you from embracing failure. If you’ve ever seen an interview with Maye Musk — or if you’ve been lucky enough to meet her in person — you’ll know that she loves to laugh and poke fun at herself. This lighthearted attitude has allowed her to be playful in life — to try new things because, well, why not?
So keep this somewhat counterintuitive advice in mind as you go forward with your business; if you want to be grittier as a business owner, learn to see your entrepreneurial endeavors as a game. When you trade in the ‘do-or-die’ nonsense for a playful willingness to try new things — and possibly fail — it’s a lot easier to roll with the punches and keep on trucking.
Find Your Inner Winner
So there you have it — three reasons why Maye Musk makes a kick-a** role model for IT business owners and anyone else who isn’t content to live a “small life.”
We hope this has given you some inspiration to keep pushing forward with your business. Remember, running a successful business is a mental game. If you can cultivate your own “winning mindset” and keep yourself grounded in your values, there’s no telling how much you can accomplish.
But what if you’re nowhere near having a “winning mindset”? What if you’re feeling unmotivated, tired, or even hopeless?
Well, when you’re faced with what seems like a herculean task, remember, the best thing you can do is take the first step. Pick something small — some minor improvement you can make to your attitude — and try it for just one day. And then, pick something else.
You got this.
Register for VISION ’21!
VISION ’21 is going to be out of this world this year. Register today and brace yourself for Maye Musk and a host of other inspiring speakers who can help you take your IT business to the next level.