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Meet Jenny Woo of Mind Brain Parenting in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenny Woo.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started my career as a Human Capital Consultant. I loved my job, particularly around working with organizations and teams to develop employees through coaching and training. As a road warrior and fitness fanatic, I felt invincible. However, this “work hard and play hard” mentality came to a halt when I became a mom. My old confidence and resourcefulness turned into mush overnight.

Just when I thought I was starting to slowly get the hang of things, BAM, we found out we were having twins. By the time I became a mother of 3 under 3, I did not remember who I was anymore. I was losing my old myself… my identity, sanity, and dignity. I felt overwhelmed by the flood of mainstream and supposedly science-backed advice. Many of which stem from an idealistic and perfectionist mentality that elicited guilt and anxiety in any parent.

I needed to find out for myself. When it came time for my three kids to attend preschool, I “infiltrated the system” by getting the job of the Administrative Director of their Montessori school. Aside from free tuition for three at a private Montessori in CA, I wanted to learn about child development and education first hand. I also want to get the scoop on how other parents are dealing with this parenting thing.

Having worked with countless parents in different contexts, I noticed that a majority of parents are either misled or overdoing what they think is the best for their children. My experience inspired me to broaden my expertise in adult development to include child development, so I applied and got my Master’s in Education from Harvard University with a focus on developmental cognitive neuroscience.

My mission is to translate what I’ve learned and give all parents access to up-to-date research and resources. As a parent, my biggest worry is whether my children would be grounded enough to make the “right” decisions in life on their own. With this in mind, I conducted countless hours of research, consultation with Harvard educators, focus groups with families and schools. I also knew how busy we are as parents, so I developed something that can be used anywhere and anytime in any family’s routines. I launched 52 Essential Conversations, a family learning game that prepares children in life.

Upon launching, I didn’t expect to receive overwhelming support from parents, teachers, psychologists, and pediatricians across the world! 52 Essential Conversations has now been sold in 35+ US states and 20+ countries. Another delightful surprise: this was originally designed for parents but now used almost equally as much in schools as a social-emotional learning curriculum.

Now looking back, my entire career has been dedicated to developing big and small human beings. I’ve worked or am working as a teacher, school administrator, University lecturer, career coach, human capital consultant, HR manager, parent coach, fitness trainer, and most importantly, a mom.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road. There were countless moments of self-doubts and fear. My project idea was accepted into Harvard Innovation Lab’s Venture Incubation Program, an intensive 12-week design thinking madness. I knew exactly what I want to solve and what impact I want to have. However, even after countless iterations of the how, I was still dissatisfied. I wanted to design something that truly honors what parents need and can realistically do. As parents, we are freakin’ busy and stressed out. Like, 99% of the time.

It wasn’t toward the end of my Venture Incubation Program, I realized, it’s often at the most random times–driving to school, playing a board game–when kids reveal information that you would normally have a hard time prying out of them when asked face-to-face. But the truth is that these magical times don’t have to be so rare and unpredictable.

We struggle to get information out of our children. But, when do we ever reveal personal information to our children? The majority of grown parents I’ve spoken to have little knowledge of the identities of their moms and dads. I included. This inspiration gave me an idea to create something that brings the family members closer while learning about, from, and with each other at the same time. The beauty of doing so would also alleviate stress and misunderstandings from all parties involved.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Mind Brain Parenting story. Tell us more about the business.
Mind Brain Parenting’s mission is to empower parents with the confidence and skills to raise inspired and compassionate children. We specialize in social-emotional learning, character education, and lifelong success that includes but also goes beyond academic success. The company is known for 52 Essential Conversations, a game that prepares children (and adults) for life. It also includes accompanying parenting podcasts featuring 40+ passionate Harvard educators sharing usable and actionable tips in candid conversations.

We set ourselves apart from others because we work with both schools and parent organizations to align school and home environment. Research shows that students engage better in school if they can feel like themselves and appreciated as whole individuals both at home and school. Mind Brain Parenting has experience speaking and workshopping at school open houses, PTO/PTA nights, and local parent community chapters. It also partners with local schools and parent organizations for fundraising.

The game has been sold to families and schools in 35+ US states and 20+ countries around the world. The game was tweeted by Harvard Education (https://twitter.com/hgse/status/991394553159737346) and have also received many accolades from well-known educators.

See a 2-min video demo and testimonials from educators here: http://bit.ly/52convos.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Mental health topics such as social-emotional wellness will continue to become a critical component that drives personal and professional satisfaction in life. This becomes even more important as US schools feel the pressures to shift its pedagogical priorities over the next 5-10 years due to the changing demands of 21st-century jobs.

Westernized parenting styles and mindsets went through tremendous change over the past twenty years. I foresee new trends in how parents “parent” as a result of the changes in schooling, post-secondary demands, and the role of technology.

Pricing:

  • A tin box of 52 Essential Conversations game ($25)

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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