Esther Wojcicki, the mom of 2 Silicon Valley CEOs and a doctor, shares key advice for raising successful kids

This parent's 'trick' to raising successful children
This parent's 'trick' to raising successful children

Esther Wojcicki knows what it takes to raise successful children.

Two of her daughters are powerful players in Silicon Valley: Susan Wojcicki is CEO of Google's YouTube and Anne Wojcicki is co-founder and CEO of DNA testing company 23andMe. Her daughter, Janet Wojcicki, is a professor of pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco.

So what's her secret?

For one, you need to let your kids fail, she told CNBC.

"When you're playing a sport, of course, you fail sometimes. You aren't as good as you wish you would be. If you take a course and you don't do so well, it's OK," said Wojcicki, author of the new book, "How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results."

"Maybe you want to do it again or take the exercise again, or do whatever it is, but it's OK not to like everything," she added.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't help your children if they are struggling. The trick is to do it wisely, Wojcicki said in a recent interview with "Power Lunch." "They need to come to you and ask for help," she explained, saying that it's something she uses in her classroom at Palo Alto High School in California, where she she teaches journalism.

"My general response to all kids in class when they ask for help is like, 'Well, did you try to do it yourself?''" she said, urging them to perhaps to seek help online or to talk to a friend. "'Let's see whether you can't figure it out without my intervention.'"

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Esther Wojcicki and CEO of YouTube Susan Wojcicki pose for a photo during YouTube Brandcast presented by Google on May 5, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic for YouTube)
Taylor Hill | FilmMagic, Inc | Getty Images

Learning to fail is just one part of Wojcicki's strategy. She boils her formula down to what she calls TRICK, which stands for trust, respect, independence, collaboration, and kindness.

Trust can be something as simple as letting your 8-year-old go shopping alone for school supplies, which Wojcicki did with her grandchildren.

"They're more of an expert than I am. They've been to Target with me a lot," she said. "Why not let them go and do the shopping?" she added. "I just dropped them off and said, 'Call me when you're done.' And they did."

It's the same type thing she did with her own kids. Her daughter, Anne at 23andMe, credited her parents for giving her a childhood that has allowed her to flourish. "We were just very supported, but we were really encouraged to, you know, be creative and to be independent."

"My parents really looked at us always as like mini adults," Anne Wojcicki told CNBC Make It last year. "The one thing that my parents really did is they gave us a taste of freedom. And they encouraged it. They encouraged us to find our passions, they weren't controlling."

Here's what it was like growing up in the family that raised two of the most successful women in Silicon Valley
Here's what it was like growing up in the family that raised two of the most successful women in Silicon Valley

Even corporate America is embracing the type of values Esther Wojcicki is promoting. A global hotel chain is now using TRICK to train and empower their employees. Esther and Anne have also met with Gap.

"These companies were actually looking for ways that they could treat their employees better," she said. "The better you feel about your company and the people that you work for, the harder you work."

That said, not everyone is convinced yet. Wojcicki said there have been some naysayers, who just don't understand her thinking.

One misconception is "that it's too easy," she said. "It's too simple you know, you didn't think about it long enough." However, she argued, "I've been thinking about this for 35 years. And I'm telling you, it works."

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