On New Year’s Eve 2019, I snuggled on my couch to read A Woman Makes a Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, and Success by Maye Musk.
As I sat in New York with my wine and my cat, Maye herself was at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, helping her son Elon deliver Model 3s so the new owners could take advantage of the tax incentives disappearing in 2020.
“Instruction manual for how to raise super-successful, super-genius kids,” I told my husband, holding up the book.
“Sounds good to me,” he replied.
But this is not a book on parenting, as I had hoped, although Maye’s Twitter followers are now asking her to write a parenting book as a follow-up.
While there is some parenting advice from the mother of Elon, Kimbal, and Tosca Musk, A Woman Makes a Plan is so much more. I discovered incredible insight and inspiration from the 71-year-old supermodel and dietician who has lived through abuse, divorce, and poverty to emerge as a successful businessperson, author, and a role model to many.
The book is full of stories of adventure from Maye’s childhood in South Africa, peeks into her life as a single mother of three, and practical nutrition tips.
But the passages that spoke to me the most were straightforward, universal advice for creating a successful life – for yourself and, yes, for your children, too.
Some of my favorite takeaways?
Maye doesn’t hesitate to hammer home the basics: “Be kind to others, listen to others, and be upbeat.”
When you do this, and when you find your passion, embrace it, and share it, you will become a magnetic personality.
In this era when people go to extremes on social media, either sharing a perfectly curated, ideal, edited life or emphasizing their challenges under the guise of being “real,” Maye’s advice may seem surprising: “Don’t start talking about your miserable life,” she writes.
Maye faced many challenges and dire situations, which she outlines in the book. Her positive demeanor and kindness helped her persevere to create a life she now loves. Most importantly, she showed gratitude for every helping hand she received along the way.
If anyone had reason to carry around bitterness and talk about her misfortune, it would be Maye. Instead, she frequently declares how much fun she’s had with her family and how much fun she continues to have today.
As someone who believes that positivity attracts more positivity, I stand behind her sentiments 100 percent.
“Find a Stylish Friend”
Maye stresses that it’s better to be interesting than beautiful. But, she writes, “Being a fascinating person doesn’t mean you have to look drab on the outside.”
She confesses that she does not have superior fashion sense. But her best friend and stylist does, and Maye trusts Julia implicitly to choose the right outfit and look for Maye for any occasion.
If you have this type of person in your life, treasure them – and trust them. They will make you look good! (I’m lucky to have two – as well as my tween daughter!)
What about that parenting advice I was expecting when I first opened A Woman Makes a Plan?
By necessity as a single mother, Maye practiced the type of “free-range” parenting commonplace in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The freedom she gave her children helped them develop strong work ethics and a sense of responsibility. She also nurtured their interests from a young age. For instance, Elon submitted a gaming code to a magazine at age 12 and earned $500 when they published it. You can still play the game online here: https://blastar-1984.appspot.com/
But my favorite parenting advice from Maye can be applied at any age: “The harder you work, the easier it is for luck to find you.”
It’s advice I’ve shared often, but to hear someone more experienced and wildly successful echo the sentiments gave it a new gravity. It’s something I need to remember in the New Year.
Maye Musk is a talented storyteller with tons of compelling stories to tell. The memoir was an ideal reading choice for New Year’s Eve – or for any time someone is ready to make a positive change.
Once you read it, it’s the type of book you want to share with everyone.
As I look ahead to 2020, plan new projects, and seek to make a difference in my little corner of the world, her voice will ring in my head, inspiring me.
After all, she writes, “If you have a good attitude and you make a plan and take a chance, even Mars is possible.”
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