3 famous innovators whose mothers were key to their success
Not all moms would travel into the African bush or drain their life savings just to help their kids realize their dreams.
- Mother's Day is Sunday, May 12.
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jane Goodall, and Elon Musk all received extraordinary support from their mothers.
- Without this support, these innovators' careers probably would've turned out much differently.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Even when his roles were small, such as in 1992's Scent of a Woman, it's hard to forget a performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman. Equally adept at playing the lead role or that of a bumbling sidekick, Hoffman was one of his generation's greatest actors. And his mother is largely to thank for introducing him to the craft.
In 2006, Hoffman won Best Actor for his lead role in Capote. Here's what he said during his acceptance speech:
"My mom's name is Marilyn O'Connor, and she's here tonight. And, I'd like, if you see her tonight, to congratulate her, because she brought up four kids alone, and she deserves a congratulations for that. . . She took me to see my first play. She stayed up with me and watched the NCAA Final Four. . . Be proud mom, because I'm proud of you."
Hoffman died in 2014 from a drug overdose. One year later, O'Connor was honored at the High Falls Film Festival, of which she was a founding member. O'Connor said:
"Movies have been a part of my life since I was a little girl. My parents took me to movies. I snuck away to go to movies by myself even at night. . . I left college classes early so I could go to movies."
As a young girl growing up in London, Jane Goodall had a very specific dream: She wanted to live in Africa among wild animals. It's a goal many parents might scoff at or try to discourage. But Jane's mother, Vanne Morris-Goodall, never did anything of the sort.
"Mother told me that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. I am always grateful for that," Goodall told The Citizen in 2014.
That support went beyond just words. In 1960, as Jane was preparing for one of her early trips to Tanzania, British authorities told her it wasn't safe to venture alone into the bush. So, Vanne agreed to accompany Jane as a "chaperone" for several months.
Jane said she learned a lot about being a mother from observing how chimpanzees raise their children. Jane once described what makes a successful chimpanzee mother, and it sounds remarkably similar to how Jane's own mother raised her:
"The offspring of mothers who are protective, but not too protective; tolerant, but able to discipline; affectionate and above all supportive have less problems."
Before Elon Musk founded enormously successful companies such as SpaceX and Tesla, he and his brother, venture capitalist Kimbal Musk, founded a software company called Zip2 in 1995. It wasn't an immediate success. Elon and Kimbal's mother, Maye Musk, was working for the company at the time, performing duties such as overseeing interns and vetting business plans. Maye, who was a model, dietician, and business-owner herself, ended up donating $10,000 of her savings to keep the company afloat. She later said it was her "best investment ever."
A few years later, Compaq bought Zip2 for $307 million.
"I don't stop my kids from doing anything they think is right," Musk told Forbes. "As long as you're doing something that is good for the future, then I think you should remain positive and do it."
E-cigarettes may be safer than traditional cigarettes, but they come with their own risks.
- A new study used an MRI machine to examine how vaping e-cigarettes affects users' cardiovascular systems immediately after inhalation.
- The results showed that vaping causes impaired circulation, stiffer arteries and less oxygen in their blood.
- The new study adds to a growing body of research showing that e-cigarettes – while likely safer than traditional cigarettes – are far from harmless.
French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- The French government initially invested in a rural solar roadway in 2016.
- French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- Solar panel "paved" roadways are proving to be inefficient and too expensive.
The Lumina Foundation lays out steps for increasing access to quality post-secondary education credentials.
- America's post-high school education landscape was not created with the modern student in mind. Today, clear and flexible pathways are necessary to help individuals access education that can help them lead a better life.
- Elizabeth Garlow explains the Lumina Foundation's strategy to create a post-secondary education system that works for all students. This includes credential recognition, affordability, a more competency-based system, and quality assurance.
- Systemic historic factors have contributed to inequality in the education system. Lumina aims to close those gaps in educational attainment.
- In 2019, Lumina Foundation and Big Think teamed up to create the Lumina Prize, a search to find the most innovative and scalable ideas in post-secondary education. You can see the winners of the Lumina Prize here – congratulations to PeerForward and Greater Commons!