While not all people who come into greatness are as expressive about giving props to mum, many of our great entrepreneurs owe big thanks to their mothers for doing all that ground floor work.
From instilling values, encouraging talents and supporting passions, they helped guide the big guns to where they are today.
Here are five mums of business leaders who’ve got the right stuff:
Lorna Simson, mother of Naomi Simson, Founder of RedBalloon & co-founder of The Big Red Group (BRG), Entrepreneur, Blogger, LinkedIn Influencer, Author, Speaker
“When I grow up I want to be just like her.” – Naomi
I’m a woman of many labels – entrepreneur, speaker, director, author, blogger and innovator – but to my children, I am simply mum. And of all the roles I’ve ever had, being a mother is the most challenging and yet the most rewarding.
I left corporate life when I became a mum because I wanted to spend more time with my little ones. I genuinely thought I could run a business at night, and play with my kids throughout the day… Let’s just say it didn’t quite work out that way – they really didn’t want to go to bed at 5:30pm!
I’m also incredibly lucky to have a wonderful mother. In the 1960s my mum worked on one of the first computers in Australia at Monash University, so being a woman in the business world is every normal to me. I remember watching her head off to work in her suit every morning and thinking to myself, “Gee, that looks fabulous. When I grow up I want to be just like her.”
It never occurred to me that I couldn’t start my own business, and during tough times the thought of giving up never crossed my mind. I owe a lot of that to my mum and the incredible example she set.
EveBranson, mother of Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group
“He wasn’t allowed to be angry. He wasn’t to be jealous. Fear wasn’t allowed. All those things had to be squashed.”
Richard Branson tells the story of the day his mum kicked him out of the car when he was 6 years old, punishing him for “causing mischief in the back seat.” But his lonely, scary trip walking to his grandmother’s house ended up becoming an experience he would grow to become grateful for, and one symbolic of the way she raised him. He was to always be in control of his emotions and rely on himself to get what he needed.
These traits would combine into a love of adventure.
Branson’s mother piloted glider planes, parachuted, and was one of the first air hostesses on a jet airliner. “She did quite a lot of adventurous things herself,” he said. “And I think she sort of expected it of her sons, so I had a lot to live up to.
“I think I soon realised that if I were to satisfy her wishes for her son, I had to do some pretty extraordinary things in my life.”
Maye Musk, mother of Elon Musk, Founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, co-founder, CEO and Product Architect at Tesla
“I’m so happy that people now recognise him for the genius I always said he was.” — Maye Musk, on her son Elon Musk.
Former model and dietitian Maye Musk was a single mother of three sons. A woman with an entrepreneurial spirit, she dedicated her life to improving the future of her children.
Elon says that his mother’s work ethic helped drive him to his success. He recalls her juggling multiple jobs and accepting a university job to get him a free education.
Mary Maxwell Gates, mother of Bill Gates, business magnate, investor, author, philanthropist, humanitarian, and principal founder of Microsoft Corporation
When talking about his mother, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, once the richest man in the world, with an estimated worth USD$91.7 billion, has often spoken about a letter she wrote to his then-fiancé Melinda the day before their wedding.
“From those to whom much is given, much is expected,” her letter read.
Mary Maxell Gates, a long-time philanthropist, died six months later at the age of 64 of breast cancer. Gates kept his mother’s letter, and his swift foray into the world of philanthropy, establishing The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the help of his father, Bill Sr., has been due to the influence of his mother, a formidable business mind in her own right.
Nikki Mohorovic, mother of Tony Robbins, World Number 1# Life & Business Strategist
While most stories of mothers have changed their children’s lives thropiugh positive impact, Tony Robbins’ story is the complete opposite. His childhood was a rocky one and he grew up in a very abusive home.
Nikki Mohorovic was a drug addict with a series of different husbands and a heavy hand for violence. Her son recalls many instances of abuse, such as the time she chased him out of the house with a knife!
However, Tony says, “If my mom had been the mother I thought I wanted, I wouldn’t be as driven; I wouldn’t be as hungry… I wouldn’t have suffered, so I probably wouldn’t have cared about other people’s suffering as much as I do. And it made me obsessed with wanting to understand people and help create change.”
So, although not all the stories were happy, we still celebrate the mothers who have guided their children to success. And we are certainly glad for the man that Tony Robbins is today.
“Our lives serve as either a warning or an example to others.” — Tony Robbins
You can choose to be an example of what’s possible – but you’ve got to decide what you’re going to be.
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