Elon Musk's father on how stern upbringing influenced world's richest man
- Elon Musk's father, Errol, detailed how upbringing influenced world's richest man
- Musk spent part of his childhood with his father in South Africa
- Musk earlier said his childhood was unhappy
Elon Musk's father, Errol Musk opened up about the Tesla and SpaceX CEO's childhood, speaking to Agence France-Presse in an interview. He said that he'd tried raising his sons as "South African boys" and instilling the same sense of discipline that he'd learned in the military.
"I was a strict father. My word was the law. They learnt from me", the 76-year-old said. According to Musk's father, the entrepreneur had high ambitions even as a preschooler, wanting to be the wealthiest man alive. He credited the "South African boy" upbringing with driving this ambition.
"It's part of the way we lived, the way I lived. We strove to be the best we could", Musk's father told AFP.
He added, "I strove to be the best in the type of business that I was in", concluding, "It's sort of our make-up. So we sort of expect that."
Errol is now a retired engineer and property developer who lives at Langebaan, the South African oceanside town, located 70 miles away from Cape Town.
Musk was born in Pretoria on June 28, 1971, to Errol and Maye, who is a dietician and model. The innovator's parents divorced, however, and Musk went to live with his father. The 50-year-old has noted that his childhood was unhappy, and the distance with his father grew when Errol had a child in 2017.
"Elon thought that was not very good. From my point of view, I take life as it comes", Errol said, noting that their relationship had improved since then. "We care about each other", the elder Musk said.
Errol Musk also shared more insights into Elon's unusual childhood, including an interaction with a man who'd laughed at the young boy's dreams. "When you grow up you'll see. It's not like that... you're going to be disappointed", he'd said, Errol recalled.
To that, Musk had answered, "Well, I think you're stupid".
Errol also recalled how Musk had made a hurtful comment about a schoolmate's father's suicide when the boy had pushed him down the stairs and hurt him. However, the elder Musk realized Elon had crossed a line and didn't rush to his son's defence. Instead, he got Elon enrolled in the prestigious Pretoria Boys High School.
A school headmaster told AFP that Musk had donated $64,500 to his alma mater. Musk's assistant arranged for the payment, which is also how the innovator remains in contact with his father.
During the AFP interview, Errol revealed that Musk had mailed him offering to pay for his eye surgery. "Elon is a very caring person. He really means it when he says that he wants to save humanity. This is not a slogan or some sort of pitch. This is real", Musk's father said.