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What Elon Musk Can Teach Us About Fatherhood

Jeff:
Today’s episode is a fun and a special one. We’re going to talk about Elon Musk. Now, me and Jeremy, and Jeremy’s going to read something here in a second, we both love … me and Jeremy both kind of love the more entrepreneurial, innovative type thinkers, the people that are changing the world. But we also, I think we both have an eye or an ear, to comments they make in the news, some other things they do.

About how they organize their family, and things they make, and what that might look like, and how they balance it all, per se. Or the myth of balancing it all, what that is, and I think Elon Musk has certainly gone on record in some interesting interviews talking about family, his kids, how he does that, work rhythms, et cetera. And I think it’s a really fun conversation to have, of just looking at people like that as microcosms of a lot of other people and asking big questions. So, Jeremy, what would you say to Elon Musk with some of those things that you’ll read in a sec.

Jeremy:
Yeah, so he’s one of the most famous fathers. He’s got five kids, five boys, and in a interview … And by the way I feel many of you guys don’t know who Elon Musk is, obviously most of us know, but he started … He founded and/or is the CEO of Tesla and of Space X. He splits his time between those two. He’s famous for working 100-plus hour weeks, but he has five boys that he’s raising.

And I think it was an interview during, in South by Southwest down in Austin, he was asked about his children and says to that question, he says, “Kids are awesome and everybody in the audience should have kids.” Musk then said, however, that he doesn’t see his kids much adding, “I do email while I’m with my children. I keep a nanny around so they don’t kill each other.”

He also made the absurd a claim that his kids are at an age where they do not require his undivided attention. According to Musk, this is the author of the article, if he didn’t multitask in this way with the help of a nanny, he wouldn’t be able to get his job done. And so when you think about like, so if we had Elon Musk, we’re talking to him about fatherhood, I think what people probably would think would be obvious, we would say is that you need to spend more time with your kids.

And I don’t doubt that that’s true. I don’t know that that gets to the heart of the issue, because Elon Musk is really doing a lot of things in his work life. I know that there’s a lot of things that are imbalanced there, but one of the things I guess I would say to him … There’s two main things that occurred to me, and I’ve been thinking about him as a father.

One is, have you considered integrating your boys more into your work? And this is one of the areas where, I know Jeff and I have pushed on in different conversations, and that is, man it’s so cool to own companies. Could you imagine if Elon would take his five boys and gave … One came to work with him on Monday, one on Tuesday, one on Wednesday, one on Thursday, one on Friday. What would it be like to get to be with their dad?

And that’s really the native place these boys could be, that he could spend some of that margin time around the edges with his son, get to really pour into them. So is there creative ways you can integrate your kids into your work? Let them experience that. And the second thing, and this really goes along with that is, if you’re really an entrepreneur, like Elon Musk, have you ever thought about your family as a startup?

And I really think that when, if dads thought of it, their families … And this is actually, I think, a lot more close to the way that Abraham thought of his family. When he was building his businesses, he wasn’t primarily thinking about building his businesses as a business owner, he primarily was thinking, I’m a father and I need to shape a world that I want my children to live in. I need to provide for my family, I need to protect my family.

And so all of his business interests were really underneath the umbrella of his fatherhood. And so if you thought about your family that way, and obviously Elon thinks about the future all the time. He thinks about becoming a multi-planet species and how are we going to save the earth from all of the fossil fuel burning? These are really the things that are behind Tesla and SpaceX, but what better way to pierce and change the future than to also do a great job of being a startup entrepreneur with the Musk family, and pouring a lot of vision into these boys.

And so those are a couple thoughts that I would have if I ever had a chance to sit down, grab coffee with Elon, besides saying, wow, I am very impressed with what he’s built. I wouldn’t want to be criticizing somebody who has done such an incredible job of trying to hold those two companies together. Two of the most difficult industries that there are. But how does this work, and how does this balance with being a dad? That’s a huge challenge. But yeah, Jeff, how do you think about that?

Jeff:
Totally. And I agree, and what’s interesting is I actually think he’s an anomaly in that he has five children, which is a very large family, especially among his peers, extremely large. That’s like a family of 20 among his peers in Silicon Valley tech executives,.that’s mostly a no children group. And so, yeah, so I think he’s an anomaly already and you can clearly tell he loves his boys, loves his family, and it’s important to him.

But I think we’ve got to be careful to never fall trap to, I want to change the world and so that’s going to happen with only business and work. And then family always then becomes a burden or a tension to that mission. And it’s clear, with even some of these quotes, that that is the burden and the tension he struggles with. That he wants to change the world for other people. He doesn’t want to change the world through his family.

And again guys, we don’t need to say this a hundred times over, but some sadly we do because of the comments we sometimes get. We don’t mean that the family hangs out for every minute, every day, all the time. What we do mean is that we think it’s one of the primary vehicles that should be integrated, in some level, in your capacity, in your context, for the way you can do it as a business owner, or as an employee, or as a staff member or as someone who travels. To integrate the family’s giftings and talents on mission for God.

And I think, yeah, that’s what I would end with is, I think to Elon, that’s all I would say is, “Man, you can actually, probably … Multiplication is better than addition.” And I think a lot of times the business work is edition, but you can actually get to a lot bigger number by multiplying things, not just adding things. And that’s through family, that’s through lineage, that’s through legacy, that’s through last names. And I think that’s really the thing I would probably say to him, for that.

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