Goals & Priorities

How to Feel Successful in 2020
An Exclusive Conversation with Esther Wojcicki

excited, young business woman celebrating success in the office with her arms up in the air

If there’s anyone who can put the idea of success in perspective in 2020, it’s Esther Wojcicki, the author and educator who raised three wildly successful daughters and wrote the book, How to Raise Successful People.

So, here’s what she says: “We have to back up on our idea of success now because maybe we had long-term goals but now success is getting through this week without having problems. Maybe it’s getting enough food. Maybe it’s making sure that your child has a good sense of self this particular week. … I think we have to redefine success as being able to cope effectively with your family in this environment that we’re living in today.”

But “cope effectively?” How exactly do we do that in this dizzying year?

Wojcicki—who learned early on that looking for the positive was a good alternative to being depressed—has some ideas about that.

A woman who knows

This, after all, is the woman who as a young girl growing up in poverty took the initiative to get a lawnmower and mow her lawn so that her home, in her words, would look less like a dump.

It’s the woman who, when her parents told her at the age of 15 that they would not pay for her to attend college because they wanted her to get married, took it as an opportunity, through work and scholarships, to pay her way.

And, this is the woman who raised two Silicon Valley CEOs (Susan of YouTube and Anne of 23andMe) and Janet, a professor at UC San Francisco—and has taught many accomplished students over more than 35 years while helping build Palo Alto High School’s world-famous media arts program.

Small wonder people seek out her advice. Here are three key points that Wojcicki shares in the latest episode of the Conferences for Women podcast, Women Amplified.

Wojcicki will also be a speaker at the 2020 virtual Pennsylvania Conference for Women, where she will join award-winning actress Viola Davis, bestselling author Tara Westover and many other inspiring speakers. If you haven’t secured your tickets, learn more here.

  1. Start by looking for the opportunities
    • “See whether or not you can’t take every crisis as an opportunity to do something new and different. That is one of the things that I’m doing right now, and that I think we all are forced into doing.
    • I think you have to do that, because the world is so difficult, and has so many challenges for so many people. I think it’s important to spend at least part of the time thinking about what opportunity this challenge is giving you, and there are lots of opportunities.”
    • “For example, we’re all living together, so you have to get along with the people that are your family, or your friends, or whoever your significant other is. You have an opportunity to practice a lot of skills, interpersonal skills that you might not have had that opportunity to do before.”
    • Another opportunity: “What can you do to make other people’s lives better? The other day I went up and down the street. I have a lot of neighbors who are elderly, and I ended up getting a lot of extra organic tomatoes. I delivered a little care-package to them, and it was incredible.

      One of them sent me a note and said how that made her day: just a little care package of tomatoes. … I think you can do little things like that every day to try to make your day better and other people’s day better.”

  2. Recognize this as an opportunity to be a more effective parent
    • “I think the most important thing that parents can do today is to make their child feel like they are part of the team. It’s a team effort. We’re all in this together, and we all have our role, and we’re all working together to make our lives better.”
    • “One of the courses U.C. Berkeley instituted last year was called ‘Adulting.’ The reason they implemented that course was that they were getting hundreds, maybe thousands of kids who were entering the system and didn’t have the basic skills for how to be an adult: how to do their laundry, how to cook, how to clean, how to do basic things that people do. It was because of the helicopter parenting syndrome where parents were doing pretty much everything.”
    • “The crisis we’re in now is an opportunity for us to use kids’ free time to teach them adulting skills. David Brooks wrote a column [in The New York Times] in which he said: ‘The Age of Coddling is Over.’
    • We’re no longer coddling our kids because we can’t coddle them the same way that we coddled them before. We all need them to be part of the team. We need to think of this as an opportunity to change the way we parent that is more effective for our kids rather than less effective.”
    • “That’s what I’m trying to do, and that’s what I try to do in my classes is to teach kids how to think. How to think no matter what situation you are in.”
  3. In work and family life, focus on T-R-I-C-K (Trust. Respect. Independence. Collaboration. Kindness)
    • “Trust is the first part: trust and respect. And, the first person you need to trust and believe in and respect is yourself.”
    • “You also want to make sure that the people that you surround yourself with are people who also trust you, and support you, and allow you to achieve whatever it is you want to achieve.”
    • “I think TRICK – trust, respect, independence, collaboration, kindness—works even more effectively and is even more important in the corporate world during the crisis because we’re all working from home.
    • And, when you work from home, you can’t micromanage the other person. You have to trust them and respect them. And, the fact is that if the team feels like they are trusted and respected by their leader, they will rise to that occasion.”
    • “Team psychology is so important these days, and trust and respect are part of that. And then giving people independence, and then allowing them to collaborate—and honestly, kindness. Kindness and compassion. That’s what the world needs today. We all need that. We all make mistakes.”

A final word of advice

  • “You have to believe in yourself and the world—that it’s going to get better. The world has gone through a lot of serious epidemics in the past, and two terrible wars and people made it through, and we’re going to make it through this.”

Tune in for the entire conversation with Wojcicki on the Conferences for Women podcast, Women Amplified. Wojcicki will also be a speaker at the 2020 virtual Pennsylvania Conference for Women. Learn more here.


More from the August 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Life Balance, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership, Innovation Tagged , |

Tiny Changes, Radical Results: Success in Uncertain Times – with Esther Wojcicki

Esther Wojcicki

Hear from a legendary educator—and the mother of three CEOs—in this month’s episode of Women Amplified.

Some would say that Esther Wojcicki is the rainmaker of success – she knows how to raise, educate and manage others so they reach their highest potential even in the most challenging and turbulent of times. This episode offers essential and simple lessons to help you navigate success in any climate. Learn how to make small changes to your approach to achieve radical results that can change the world—even when the world is changing around you.

 

+Please take our listener survey! (We’re giving away free tickets to make it worth your while!)


“The most important thing is to try, not to give up, and not punish yourself, and not to tell yourself how terrible it is that you’re stuck in this situation. Because if you do that, then you won’t be able to think your way out of it. You have to be able to figure out there are solutions.”Esther Wojcicki


 

This Month’s Guest:

ESTHER WOJCICKI is a leading American educator, journalist, and mother. A leader in blended learning and the integration of technology into education, she is the founder of the Media Arts programs at Palo Alto High School. Wojcicki serves as vice chair of Creative Commons, and was instrumental in the launch of the Google Teacher Academy. She lives in California. Her most recent book is HOW TO RAISE SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE: Simple Lessons for Radical Results. @estherwojcicki

 

Our Host:

CELESTE HEADLEE is a communication and human nature expert, and an award-winning journalist. She is a professional speaker, and also the author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, Heard Mentality and We Need to Talk. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio, and anchored programs including Tell Me MoreTalk of the NationAll Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as cohost of the national morning news show The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Headlee’s TEDx talk sharing ten ways to have a better conversation has over twenty million total views to date. @celesteheadlee


 

Additional Resources:

Posted in Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership, Innovation, Podcasts, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged , |

Are you or someone you know making a difference in your community?

cheerful Filipino woman managing outdoor food and clothing drive during community charity event

Target and the Pennsylvania Conference for Women want to hear your story and share it with the world! Whether you’ve been making a difference by being on the front lines of the pandemic, marching in the streets for justice, or checking in on an elderly neighbor during a chaotic time, your good acts matter and inspire others.

That’s why, we’re highlighting select stories and gifting three entrants with two (2) free tickets to our virtual fall Conference as well as a $500 Target gift card!

To share your story, enter our Target Storytellers contest.

Posted in Latest News, Life on Your Terms, Inspired, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership Tagged , |

Resilience Expert Valorie Burton: On the Power of Self-Talk

Valorie Burton

“At the core of resilience is how you think,” says author and life strategist Valorie Burton. “That’s the thing we can control the most. You want to know: Is what you’re saying to yourself helping you or hurting you? A huge piece of resilience is what you say to yourself, and changing it if what you’re saying isn’t helping.”

Burton, author of 13 books, including Successful Women Think Differently, and her forthcoming Let Go of the Guilt, spoke with us recently about how successful women can think about these times.

Valorie Burton will join Melinda Gates, Issa Rae and other amazing speakers at the Oct. 1st virtual Texas Conference for Women. If you haven’t secured your ticket, learn more here. We’re expecting more attendees than ever this year!

Q: After writing 13 personal development books, what insights have you found most helpful for navigating these extraordinarily challenging times—and still being able to move forward toward your goals?

First and foremost, this is a real test of resilience. The pandemic was such an unexpected and shocking turn of events. Now with all of the social and racial unrest, it feels like: Oh, my goodness what is next? The emotional toll is very real. I think it is important to give yourself extra emotional space to deal with all of it.

As women, we are hard on ourselves. We expect ourselves to keep going in the same way as if nothing has changed. But things have changed. Being able to pivot is very important. We need to take stock of what has changed in our relationships, parenting, job or business, and health.

Asking yourself, “What do I need right now?” is also a really important question. Then understand: This isn’t forever. And look for the opportunity in it for you. There are opportunities. Not in every situation. But in many, there are opportunities and messages. You don’t want to miss them. You have to look for them.

One of my favorite mantras when dealing with something hard is “What is is.” Fighting against it just ends up draining more energy. Obviously, things are harder for some people than others. But if you’re fighting against what is, you can’t focus on what to do to minimize the negative impact.

Q: You have spent more than 15 years studying resilience. What is the most important thing that women should know and do to cultivate the resilience that can help us in this moment?

Understand the power of a decision to get through it. When I went through a divorce 11 years ago, I thought my life was over. I was crying to my mom, and she said, “You’re 36! I hope your life’s not over!”

Then I came to a decision: I said, “I will walk through this fire but it will not consume me.” And, I decided that I would be better because of it. What I look for now is how can I grow through this difficulty and not just go through it.

At the core of resilience is how you think. That’s thing we can control the most. You want to know: Is what you’re saying to yourself helping you or hurting you? A huge piece of resilience is what you say to yourself and changing it if what you’re saying isn’t helping.

Q: As women, many of us find we take care of family, work, the house, the dog, and everything and everyone else—and then have little energy left for our own self-care. But if that’s not a helpful habit in ordinary times, it’s a seriously bad strategy in long challenging periods like this one. So, how do we use this moment to truly make self-care a priority?

I don’t want to use the cliché about putting the mask on yourself first. But taking the time to rest, to eat well, even to walk for 30 minutes: those things make a difference. So, I would say think of self-care as a resilience skill and a strategy for being able to accomplish everything else you need to accomplish and feel good while doing it. Then make it something enjoyable and doable and part of your to-do list.

Q: In Successful Women Think Differently, you identify nine habits that successful women practice. If you were to rewrite that book now, what ways of thinking could help us more successfully navigate these uncertain times?

Successful women see the big picture. Although they may not know how things will turn out, they understand there is a bigger picture. I think in these times, it’s about imagining yourself looking back and thinking about what you will wish you had done in these times. It is about making wise choices and not because you are panicked about something.

I understand that these times are stressful but we make choices everyday about the attitude we bring to what is going on. Cultivating positive emotions (through having something to look forward to, play, gratitude, movement and so on) is one of the most important strategies we have for dealing with stress.

Research tells us happiness isn’t just correlated with success. It causes success. So, in midst of all of this, I think it is even more important to do things that bring you joy because it will help you deal with all stuff that saps your joy.

Focusing on what is beyond your control is what leads to hopelessness. Successful women are always looking for internal locus of control.

Q: You have a new book coming out in September, called Let Go of the Guilt. Can you tell us about that?

A few years ago, I was asked to do a breakout session on work-life balance for parents. It was not my expertise. I was trying to figure out myself. I mentioned guilt because I was feeling it. The collective groans from women just struck me. I started bringing the subject up. The response from women was always the same.

Women are very hard on themselves—not because they did something awful but because of all of the expectations that society puts on us. I did some research and realized women are more guilt-prone than men. One study showed that women have a guilt-deficit until they are in their 50s.

So, I created coaching for letting go of guilt. I worked with a number of women who used the process. It worked. Women felt like a weight was lifted. I am very excited about this book.

Valorie Burton is the author of 13 books on personal development, founder of The Coaching and Positive Psychology (CaPP) Institute and an international speaker on resilience and happiness. Learn more at www.ValorieBurton.com.


More from the July 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Transitions, Life Balance, Goals & Priorities Tagged , |

What to Do When Your Plans Encounter a Pandemic

young woman pinning notes on a bulletin board to keep track of plans

Now that at least some of the shock of living in a global pandemic is diminishing, it may be time to ask: How do we pick up the pieces and start thinking creatively about next steps—or, perhaps, even how to re-invent ourselves in a new world?

But before even beginning to try to answer that, it may be helpful to recall Anne Lamott’s classic insight into the creative process.

In Bird by Bird, Lamott writes: “the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts.” There are no “good second drafts and terrific third drafts” for anyone, she says, without that first messy step.

That truth about creativity, like innovation, prompted us to talk recently with Mary Laura Philpott, Conference for Women speaker and bestselling author of I Miss You When I Blink.

“Now, and moving forward with every passing week, we have to be even more creative because we’re not coasting on novelty anymore,” said Philpott, who has been compared to Nora Ephron. “We can’t coast on the excuses we had in the beginning, when there was a snow day-like feeling. We have to figure it out.”

If You Feel Blocked

But what if you feel like you don’t have it in you to create what comes next?

“What I always tell younger writers who ask me about how to overcome writer’s block is that there is no such thing. It’s a label we give to fear, when we are afraid of what we have to do or it is difficult,” says Philpott.

The same applies to innovation in business settings, she says. “There is no such thing as innovation block. There is fear. There is exhaustion. But we can do it.”

“I know many women in this audience are planners by nature and visionaries,” Philpott continued. “So many women at these conferences have told me what they were working on now, and what they were planning for five years from now.”

“I know it can be deeply demoralizing to someone who has that visionary tendency to hit an obstacle, and an obstacle that drags on a long time like this one. But we need to remember that time keeps moving forward. This is not life forever. This is life right now.”

Obviously, she added, we still have to focus on how to get through this moment. But don’t give up on your plan or vision in the process. “Save a little time every day to think about it.”


More from the May 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Goals & Priorities, Innovation Tagged , |

5 Ways to Create the Career You Truly Want

Erica Williams Simon

At 27, Erica Williams Simon came to an important recognition. She was “successful” but not happy.

“So, I did what we are never supposed to do—especially as women, especially as black women: We’re never supposed to quit. You don’t quit. Well yes, you do and I did,” she recently said.

What she discovered in the time of self-exploration that followed was that many cultural and generational narratives had shaped her idea of what it means to be successful that had nothing to do with what she actually wanted out of life.

Now, the woman who had been listed on several “30 under 30” lists as a rising political star and TV commentator, is on a mission to help others understand the cultural stories that shape their lives and create new ones that will lead them to the life they actually want.

The author of the 2019 book, You Deserve the Truth, Erica shared these five insights with the Conference for Women: Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Career Choices, Transitions, Goals & Priorities Tagged , , |

Here’s How to Be Happier Now

Nataly Kogan
“So many people are so stressed out and so overwhelmed that they can’t even, and I say this from personal experience, they cannot even allow themselves to pause and recognize that they’re running at an unacceptable pace.”

Scroll down and click Play to listen in your browser. Or subscribe to Women Amplified wherever you get your podcasts, and take advantage of Conference for Women speakers year-round!

 

Read More

Posted in Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Life Balance, Health & Wellness, Goals & Priorities, Podcasts Tagged , , |

Elizabeth Gilbert: On the Three Most Powerful Words a Woman Can Say

Elizabeth Gilbert

When she was 25 and had moved to New York City to pursue a career as a writer, Elizabeth Gilbert saw a woman in her neighborhood who seemed to be living her dream life: one of creativity that was not taken up by other day jobs.

“She became my mentor. She didn’t know. We didn’t have the conversation. I just decided. And, what that meant in my world was that I would semi-talk to her,” Gilbert told 10,000 women at the 2019 Pennsylvania Conference for Women. “My plan for this mentorship relationship was to be in her presence and what would happen is all that [she had] would migrate to me.”

Then, one night, Gilbert saw her at a party, where the woman politely asked how her writing was going. Gilbert responded: not very well. The woman asked why. Gilbert said she had too much work, and was busy with a boyfriend, and her roommates were very distracting. In short, she didn’t have time, and she didn’t have privacy.

“At the end, she asked me the single most important question anybody has ever asked me in my entire life. I can honestly tell you my life hinged on that question,” Gilbert recalled. It was: “What are you willing to give up to have the life you keep pretending you want?”

Gilbert felt offended and immediately defended herself. But the woman challenged her, saying that from her perspective it looked like Gilbert put time into everything except the writing that she said was most important to her.

Then she asked where her free time was spent. Gilbert responded that she didn’t have any. “Really?” the woman asked. “What’s your favorite television show?” Gilbert answered Seinfeld. Then the woman similarly challenged her about her favorite magazines and restaurants and bars.

Finally, knowing Gilbert and her friends had plans to go the beach for a week, the woman said: “You are not going because if you do go, then I don’t ever want to have this conversation with you again about how your work isn’t going well because the thing you care about you don’t have time for.”

Gilbert acknowledged that she had to learn to say “no” to things she didn’t want to do. The woman said, “Oh, honey, it’s so much worse than that. You have to learn to say ‘no’ to the things that you do want to do with the understanding that you just have this one life stream, this one energy source, this one brief moment here.”

That, said Gilbert, became the turning point in her life as a writer. She stayed home and wrote what would become her first book.

The upshot: “Women are taught they are supposed to care about everything and everybody equally; and it is a lie, a great lie that is keeping you in bondage,” Gilbert said. “The reason I think you are so worried, tired, and stressed,” Gilbert said to the audience, “is because you believe this great lie that you are supposed to care about everything and everybody equally.”

“My prayer,” she added, “is that you take that worry off your neck that you have been struggling with and turn it into a golden circle you put around you and your projects, and your creativity, around who and what you love. Say everything in the circle is now sacred. I choose what is in it. And, if you’re not in the circle you can what outside because I don’t care.”

Those three words, “I don’t care,” are the three most powerful words a woman can have in her arsenal, Gilbert suggested, because they allow us to focus our energy on what we do most care about.


 

The Magic of Liz Gilbert

People know Elizabeth Gilbert best as the author of the wildly successful international bestseller, Eat, Pray, Love that was made into a movie starring Julia Roberts. It gave voice to women who longed for something more. More from relationships. More from love. More from life. She inspired us to pursue our dreams wherever they take us.

Since then, Gilbert has continued to dazzle us time and again. Her wondrous book, Big Magic, has led countless women to recognize that there are “extraordinary treasures” that long to be coaxed out of every one of us.

Then, just this past summer, Liz Gilbert returned to her roots as a fiction writer with the release of City of Girls, an instant New York Times bestseller. Set in the theater world of the 1940s, it’s a spellbinding novel of glamour, sex, and adventure, about a young woman discovering – you’ll like this: that you don’t have to be a good girl to be a good person. But perhaps most importantly, she inspires joy and wonder wherever she goes.


Read more keynote recaps from the 2019 Conference

Posted in Latest News, Speaker Articles, Life Balance, Health & Wellness, Goals & Priorities Tagged , , |

How to Master the Tiny Habits That Will Help You Reach Your Potential

One step at a time

When he was a teenager, James Clear got hit in the face with a bat during a baseball game. It took surgery and nearly nine months for him to be able to work on regaining basic functions, like walking in a straight line. And even then, he could only focus on developing one tiny new habit a time. But together, these tiny habits turned out to make a difference—big enough that, in college, he was named an Academic all-American.

Luckily for us, Clear also went on to be an expert in how tiny habits can help us reach our potential—insights he compiled in 2018 New York Times best-selling book, Atomic Habits and is sharing with the Conferences for Women.*

“Excellence is not really about making radical changes,” he says. “It’s about accruing small improvements over time and committing to this philosophy of continuous improvement.” Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership Tagged , |

The Mindset That Wins: Strategies of an Elite Champion Runner

Desiree LindenIf anyone knows persistence and how to stay motivated, it’s Desiree Linden, last year’s winner of the Boston Marathon in the women’s category and the first American to win in 33 years.

Here’s a peek into Linden’s winning mindset.

It starts with a no-regrets attitude.

Linden had success as a college athlete, but she wasn’t one of those stars that everyone was watching. Still, she decided to pursue her dream of going pro.

“For me, it was worth the risk of answering that ‘what if’ question,” Linden explains. “I felt like I had the ability, and if I just put in a little bit more time, maybe I could do something special. There were no guarantees that I could even make a living, but I didn’t want to look back in 10 years and go, ‘What if?’” Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Embrace the Unknown, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership, Job Advancement Tagged , |

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