Elon Musk's Ex-Wife Justine Musk on What She Learned Living With an Extreme Entrepreneurial Success

Justine Musk reveals what she observed, from her courtside seat, about those destined for great success.

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By Catherine Clifford Originally published

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Insanity and godlike genetics. Those are the qualities needed to achieve extreme success, à la Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs or Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

That's according to the intimate perspective of Elon Musk's ex wife Justine Musk, formerly Justine Wilson, who was wed to the Tesla Motors businessman for nearly a decade.

Those who have achieved "extreme success," says Justine, who divorced Elon in 2008, live differently than most others. "These people tend to be freaks and misfits who were forced to experience the world in an unusually challenging way," she wrote in response to a question on the user-generated response platform Quora back in 2015. "They don't think the way other people think. They see things from angles that unlock new ideas and insights. Other people consider them to be somewhat insane."

Related: Great Entrepreneur, Lousy Lover?

Justine met Elon, who is originally from South Africa, as students at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where she was studying english literature. The pair married in 2000. They welcomed their first child together, son Nevada Alexander Musk in 2002, however, he died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) at just 10 weeks old. Following the tragic loss, the two sought out IVF and later welcomed their twin boys Griffin and Xavier Musk in April 2004. The couple went through IVF a second time, welcoming triplets Kai, Saxon and Damian Musk in January 2006.

As her husband achieved astronomical success, literally, now Canadian author Justine Wilson watched herself slowly take a back seat to his work. She watched herself become a trophy wife, she revealed in Marie Claire in 2010.

Marital woes aside, Justine walked away with a courtside view of success that many don't get to see. One of her key takeaways is that you shouldn't pursue something simply because you want to become great. "Pursue something because it fascinates you, because the pursuit itself engages and compels you," she wrote on Quora. "Extreme people combine brilliance and talent with an *insane* work ethic, so if the work itself doesn't drive you, you will burn out or fall by the wayside or your extreme competitors will crush you and make you cry."

Related: Reality Check: You Need to Care About More Than Your Business

"Once you have found a topic that compels you, then find a problem. And in your obsessive pursuit to solve that problem, don't expect to have role models. You will be forging your own path," she said, per Business Insider.

Forging that path is not all mental; taking care of your body is key. "It helps to have superhuman energy and stamina. If you are not blessed with godlike genetics, then make it a point to get into the best shape possible," Justine wrote. "Keep your body sharp to keep your mind sharp. It pays off."

After their split, Mr Musk went on to marry actress Talulah Riley in 2010 before they divorced in 2012. However, they rekindled and remarried in 2014, just to divorce again two years later in 2016.

That same year, Musk began dating Aquaman actress Amber Heard, who's notable entangled in a defamation case with ex-husband Johnny Depp. The two dated for only a year before parting ways, however, the breakup was tough on the Space X founder, telling Rolling Stone he was "really in love, and it hurt bad," in November 2017.

In 2018, Page Six revealed Musk had started dating singer and musician Grimes, who's real name is Claire Boucher, before the pair made their red carpet debut at the Met Gala in New York. Together with Grimes, Musk got back to expanding his family and the couple welcomed their son, X Æ A 12 in May 2020, however they later changed his name to X Æ A XII to comply with California Laws. The proud parents call him "baby x" for short.

Since welcoming their son, the couple's relationship status has been up and down, but they announced the birth of their second child, daughter Exa Dark Sideræl Musk, via surrogate in December 2021.

The free speech advocate, who's son to father Errol Musk and mother Maye Musk, was also rumored to be dating Australian actress Natasha Bassett. Although Musk's love life is much more public than from his days married to Justine Wilson, the two still share custody of their children, per People, however, not much is known about where the exes coparenting relationship stands today.

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Catherine Clifford

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC

Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.

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