Elon Musk’s brother, Kimbal Musk, has been instrumental in the success of many of Elon’s ventures, from launching his own healthy fast-food chain to working as an executive in his brother’s companies.
In an interview with Business Insider, Kimbal revealed how he is like Elon and how he views his brother’s relationships with other entrepreneurs and CEOs. Here are some excerpts from the interview
Growing up in South Africa
The same family that moulded Elon is also responsible for turning Kimbal into a business mogul in his own right. The youngest of three children, Kimbal grew up with his two siblings and parents Maye and Errol in a suburb of Pretoria. From an early age, he was taught by his father how to grow vegetables and fruit on their large farm. But it wasn’t until Kimbal moved to Boulder, Colorado after college at age 25 that he started to build his future empire as a restaurateur.
After he moved to Colorado, Kimbal decided to grow a vegetable garden in his backyard. While that experience was mostly a failure, Kimbal still enjoyed it and decided to try again. This time he focused on a different crop: tomatoes. The difference between his first and second gardening projects was dramatic; while the first attempt didn’t produce anything worthwhile, Kimbal had success with his second attempt which gave him confidence that growing food could be a viable career path for him. After some planning and hard work, he opened his first restaurant The Kitchen after just six months of gardening as research.
Over time, Kimbal realized that most people in America didn’t know where their food was coming from or how it was being grown. So he decided to team up with his brother and founded Big Green, a non-profit organization dedicated to revolutionizing urban food production. Big Green focuses on teaching kids and adults about growing healthy food by letting them do it themselves. The goal is to eventually help schools across America grow their own vegetables through farm-to-school programs designed to improve nutrition while saving money on school lunch programs.
Learning how to code
There are many who believe that coding is simply for geniuses and people with math minds. In reality, coding can be an incredibly fun (and somewhat addictive) hobby.
Another option is to sign up for an adult education class at a local community college or school district. These are often very affordable and can be an excellent way to learn computer science. You may also want to look into programs that offer coding as part of their curriculum, including high school engineering and computer science classes, although these are typically more expensive than a standard course. As you might imagine, there are also quite a few free online courses that can help teach you how to code as well.
If you’re looking for a bit more one-on-one attention, in-person coding boot camps may be your best bet. These training programs can take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks and may cost thousands of dollars. However, many offer generous scholarships for students who are financially disadvantaged and may also provide job placement assistance after graduation, which could help increase your odds of getting hired at some of tech’s most promising companies. If you have already developed some coding skills but want to learn new programming languages or specializations like mobile development or game design, consider enrolling in a continuing education program at a nearby college or university that offers certificate programs in these areas.
Choosing a career as an engineer
Kimbal Musk is an entrepreneur, engineer, and philanthropist. What he isn’t, however, is an inventor. That might be because Kimbal Musk has never been one to worry about seeking fame or fortune. In fact, that’s something he and his billionaire brother Elon have in common: they don’t strive for wealth or headlines—they do what they love and let success take care of itself. In a recent interview with The Telegraph, Kimbal shared how his own journey started out just like it did for Elon: humble beginnings and loving parents who encouraged their children to follow their dreams.
Kimbal earned his degree in physics and astronomy from Stanford University in 1994, as well as a second Bachelor’s Degree from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. After graduating from college, Kimbal went on to pursue his love of cooking at The French Culinary Institute. While he enjoyed feeding people, it wasn’t until he started Upbeat—his first startup—that he found a calling: education. Upbeat was dedicated to educating kids about nutrition and instilling healthy eating habits at an early age. Even though things didn’t work out with Upbeat, Kimbal learned an important lesson that would help him along his journey: no matter what happens in business or life, you should always keep going forward and never give up.
After starting Upbeat, Kimbal pursued his love of education by opening a string of educational programs in 2009. The first was The Kitchen School—an interactive cooking school located in Boulder, Colorado. Next came The Kitchen Community, which shared some of its best practices with other communities that were interested in creating their own educational kitchen programs. Most recently, Kimbal launched Big Green, an organization dedicated to educating children about healthy food and giving them the tools they need to change our food system for generations to come. His latest startup is The Kitchen Restaurant Group, which owns three restaurants around Denver and Chicago that donate 100% of their profits to charity!
Becoming successful through hard work
Starting in 1995, Kimbal launched his first business, Zip2 Corporation. A year later, Elon would join him and take over as CEO until 2000 when they sold it to Compaq for $341 million.
The sale made both of them billionaires. Today, Kimbal is still an entrepreneur and much like his brother he has turned to innovation. In 2002, he became a part-owner and vice chairman of SolarCity which was founded by their cousins Lyndon Rive and Peter Rive that same year; another business that would help make them richer.
In 2010, he started The Kitchen Restaurant Group with Hugo Matheson and Steve Ells (founder of Chipotle). In 2011, Kimbal co-founded Big Green, a non-profit organization focused on making America healthier through food. Today, Big Green operates nine farms across America that provide fresh produce to schools across America—and they are working on expanding even more. How did all these successes happen? Well if you ask Kimbal himself then he will tell you: I’ve never had anything handed to me. And if you want something handed to you then don’t expect success because it will not happen. Instead, be willing to work hard every day at what you do no matter how small or big your goals may be and success will come naturally—it always does!
So what have you done to contribute? For now, enjoy your accomplishments but don’t be afraid to use those as a platform to get more. Each day it is my goal to work hard and move forward in what I do. From time to time that means sharing advice and motivational stories in order to help others on their journey towards success. A journey that starts with realizing that you are in control of what happens next and if you don’t like where you are then it is up to you – not anyone else – to change things for yourself! You only have one life so why would you waste it doing something half-heartedly?
Being a family man
Kimbal works in Boulder, Colorado as a restaurateur and as a philanthropist. As of 2012, he is currently running two businesses: The Kitchen Community and Big Green. The former seeks to build a global community of engaged individuals united through their love of good food, while the latter aims to promote sustainable farming across America. A day in Kimbal Musk’s life can be pretty chaotic. Before all that work kicks off, though, he usually gets up at 5 am and spends time with his two sons at home before leaving for work at 7 am.
Usually, Kimbal goes to The Kitchen Community’s space located at a historic building in downtown Boulder at around 9 am. At 10 am, he has a conference call with his brother and sister-in-law. It is followed by another meeting at 10:30 am before lunch. Then it’s back to work until dinner time at 5 pm. At dinner time, he eats dinner with his family every night so that he can manage to make it home for dinner. After dinner, he does homework with his kids before bedtime for them and then heads off for another long day of work. On days when Kimbal can’t be there for dinner or get home from work in time to have dinner with his family, they eat together later on that evening on Skype.
If Kimbal could give one piece of advice to his brother, it would be for him to ‘keep his humanity. It seems like he has managed to maintain a normal life in spite of all his success and fame. The entrepreneur’s time spent with his children is a testament to that. They seem close and they spend enough time together as a family despite their insanely busy schedules.
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