According to the Forbes list, there are currently 2,754 billionaires in the world. That means that 5,508 parents have literally raised a billionaire. 5,508 parents who’ve changed billionaire diapers, overseen billionaire homework, and spell-checked billionaire college admissions essays. With that many billionaire-rearing parents walking the globe, surely we can learn a thing or two to incorporate into our own parenting. We’ll start with some sage advice from a humble dad with a famous name.
Bill Gates, Sr.
When Charlie Rose sat down with Microsoft’s billionaire cofounder and his namesake father, the senior Gates answered Rose’s question in a surprising way. In response to “what have you learned from your children,” his first response was a lesson in competence that he learned from his daughter. Beaming with affection, Gates Sr. reminded the world of the pride he took in his kids. All of his kids. But another piece of insight was equally striking. When asked what quality he saw as most responsible for the success of his son, he summed it up in one word: focus. In a world increasingly distracted and entertained, we could all gain from an increase in focus.
In her perfectly named biography, “Mother of Invention,” the mom of serial entrepreneur and Tesla founder Elon Musk recounts more than a handful of episodes that would make a modern parent gasp. Like the time her daughter sold their family home at the age of 15 (and Mom signed the papers), the time Elon and brother Kimball blew up rockets in the back yard, or the time her kids sold Easter eggs door to door at wildly inflated prices. Rather than scolding them or protecting them, and even when her own reputation was on the line, Mrs. Musk let her kids take bold risks and face any consequences those risks might bring.
Ed & Karen Zuckerberg
When Viacom was attempting to court then-Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg into selling his social media company, CEO Michael Wolf had a brilliant idea: he offered to fly Zuckerberg home for Christmas on the company jet. His attempts at acquiring Facebook were obviously unsuccessful, but so were his attempts to remove Mark from reality? Why? The Zuckerbergs, who greeted him on the tarmac in their minivan, driving him home like a normal human being. Without saying a word, a clear message was conveyed: don’t let this go to your head, son.
Much can be debated about Kris Jenner—and it is. But one thing that can’t be denied is that she’s managed to mother more than one child into fame and fortune. Despite the appearance of quick fame and easy fortunes, this “Momager” claims there’s much more than luck behind her children’s successes. As she explained to the New York Times, “There’s a lot of people that have great ideas and dreams and whatnot, but unless you’re willing to work really, really hard, and work for what you want, it’s never going to happen. And that’s what’s so great about the girls. It’s all about their work ethic.”