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'Godmother of Silicon Valley' shares her tips for raising successful people

Lara O'Reilly
Executive Producer

Esther Wojcicki is more than qualified when it comes to the subject of raising and nurturing successful people.

An educator for more than 35 years — and founder of the renowned Palo Alto High School media arts programme — her own daughters serve as the best case studies for her approach and explain why she is so-often referred to as “the Godmother of Silicon Valley”.

Daughter Susan Wojcicki serves as the CEO of YouTube; Anne is co-founder of genetic testing startup 23andMe; and Janet is a leading professor of paediatrics at the University of California.

How did she do it? Wojcicki’s method for raising people is the antithesis of helicopter parenting and can also be applied as much to the workplace as it can within the home. She simplifies the approach down to a simple acronym, TRICK, which stands for Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration and Kindness.

Speaking on Yahoo Finance UK’s Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded show, Wojcicki said, “You have to allow for some chaos.”

Alongside the “TRICK,” principles, Wojcicki said it’s also important not to take life too seriously.

The very morning of her Global Change Agents interview, for example, Wojcicki posed for a quick Instagram snap with a life-size replica version of “Sulley” from the Monsters Inc. movie franchise.

In the foreword of her recently published book How To Raise Successful People, her daughters note she met their father siding down the stairs in a cardboard box in her dorm in Berkeley and write, “She has gotten us kicked out of restaurants for her (not her kids’) bad behaviour!”.

“I do think fun and silliness is part of being successful because it’s a sense of humour,” Wojcicki said.

“Everything in life, there’s a lot of things that don’t go right and you can either cry about them or you can laugh about them — or perhaps you can do a combination of both — I do tend to be pretty silly most of the time.”

Watch the full Esther Wojcicki Global Change Agents episode for:

  • How Wojcicki’s “somewhat difficult” childhood led her on a path of questioning authority

  • Wojcicki on why she believes all schools should have journalism on the curriculum and how she grew the Palo Alto High School Media Arts programme. (Alumni include actor and director James Franco; The Economist media editor Gady Epstein; and Facebook’s global head of advertising technology partnerships Nik Ajagu.)

  • Wojcicki on how the education system needs to change for the 21st century

  • Wojcicki’s advice for limiting children’s screen time.

  • How the “TRICK” technique can be applied to business

  • Wojcicki’s proudest achievements

Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded explores the stories of some of the most inspirational women across business, tech, and academia. Catch up on all the latest episodes here.