Lean In

Have you heard of Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, “Lean In”? Sandberg is the COO of Facebook, and she gave an inspiring TEDTalk in 2010 about the lack of women leaders and how we’re unintentionally holding ourselves back. “Lean In” continues that dialogue, “combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women.”

The release of “Lean In” spurred a social media tie-in, under the question ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ Women of all ages have answered on the movement’s Tumblr page, with answers ranging from, “Ask for more money” to “Become a professional salsa dancer.” I’ll admit I don’t entirely get how either of things will propel women to the top of their field and grasp the typical career achievements Sandberg preaches in her TEDTalk, but I get that we’re (women and men) generally afraid of going after what we want.

Needless to say my interest has been piqued and I’m planning to use one of the many coupons B&N sends me to pick up a copy of the book this weekend. I’ll report back when I finish! Have any of you read it yet?

And what would I do if I wasn’t afraid? I would quit my job, move to Paris, and write. What about you?

11 thoughts on “Lean In

  1. I have mixed feelings about this woman, and I’m not sure why. I totally agree that her TED talk was inspiring and I agree with a lot of what she has to say. She’s also been damn lucky to get where she is, and not many women have the luxury to take the considered approach she’s discussing.

    Now. Regarding the “afraid” question. That’s a good one. One I’m afraid to even ask myself. See what I did there? ;) But for you, I’ll work on it. It’s easier for me to figure out what I want than to say what I’m afraid of. And that’s something interesting to ponder too.

  2. You know, I’ve heard different things about women who’ve read the book and the general consensus is that it doesn’t really ‘teach’ anything and really just reflects on what she did.

    If I was not afraid? I’d talk to more strangers, meet more people and generally think less about what I say before I say it. So maybe being afraid isn’t a bad thing. :)

  3. I read it! And I agree with rooth – that’s pretty much what the book is. It doesn’t really add anything to the basic message. In my perspective, she’s just trying to get more people to read and talk about the gender leadership gap and why/ how it happens, so I think the book works. It was an interesting read – sometimes, I found her to be laugh-out-loud funny, but other times she annoyed me so much that I had to stop reading. I am glad I read it, though.

  4. i agree with lauren’s sentiment and it’s probably a book that i would skip, but i do appreciate her efforts in addressing the gender gap. i remember when i was director of a domestic violence shelter my man-boss (the only man that worked for the company) would often tell me i should come across softer and me saying what we needed so “directly” threw people on the board off (also men). i later heard he got sued by one of the employees i hired.

    as for the second half here! good timing. i am currently doing something that scares me (the fab thing starts tomorrow!). it’s not so much putting my work out there, it’s telling people about it – owning that i am doing that. i am afraid i will fail and that will be humiliating. or i am afraid it will be successful and i won’t be able to pull it off. but i’m finally at the point in my life where it’s actually more scary to not face my fears. so i guess this not doing that at least ;) but, yes, if i could really just do anything that scares me – moving to france and working from there, yup. that’d be it.

  5. I read the book and have a (signed) copy if you want to borrow it instead of buy! It was an interesting read, and while I agree with many of her ideas and concepts in theory, not always so easy to implement in practice. (Catching me at a bad time after coming back from almost an entire week in California for work for the second week in a row.) I guess that’s why she wrote the book. I’m glad she got the dialogue going, even if I don’t necessarily agree with everything she has to say.

  6. I read the book and have a hard copy if you want to borrow it. I liked the book enough and appreciated her efforts to start the gender gap conversation. Aside from the gender discussion, there’s also a really interesting chapter about how women hold each other back (more specifically, how we hold ourselves back in fear of what other women will think of us). She asks the reader to imagine a society where all women support one another and judge each other less; A society where women who go after what they want aren’t seen as aggressive and are lifted up by other women to succeed (she points out that men don’t deal with these issues). There would be no stopping us. Having said all that, I can’t say the book was earth shattering. My disappointment stems from wanting more personal anecdotes and less statistics. I would love to hear your thoughts when you read it. Great thought provoking post, Erin.
    Oh, I almost forgot, what would I do if I wasn’t afraid. How much time have you got? ;) For starters, I would stop being so afraid. Of everything – Failure, success, putting myself out there, pursuing my passions …

  7. I heard about it a few months ago and like you, my interest was instantly piqued. Being “afraid” and making excuses is something that I struggle with daily so I am fascinated by her perspective – I am yet to pick up a copy so I would love it if you gave it one of your stellar reviews? What would I do if I wasn’t such a big chicken? Quit my job, get some start-up and open that little shop on the beach I have always dreamed about!

  8. I actually came across Lean In + Sandberg while getting my hair done and reading an issue of Cosmo that was at the salon! I immediately started googling more about her and the campaign and even follow her on twitter! She’s definitely an influential woman that I look up to :)

  9. I have been meaning to write a post on this but haven’t got round to it so I may as well make my point here. Here goes….

    This book is in all the bookshops here and being promoted heavily. I haven’t read it, and I won’t, for one reason alone: the more time I spend stuck working in offices in banks, the more I believe that they are environments set up by men, that appeal to the way men work. In my experience it is rare to find a woman in a corporation who loves her job. She may of course love the money, the people, the perks and some of her work but it is very rare to meet a corporate woman say she loves her job.

    I recently read Quiet and found it revolutionary and it’s made me think a lot about how introverts are out of place in the office. But so are women. Corporations are environments created by extrovert, power hungry, men.

    The author makes the point that introverts don’t work well or socialise well unless it is related to something they have passion for and I think women are the same, we can only love our jobs when we feel it in our hearts. And this explains why, when I was getting married, I came into contact with a huge number of clever, successful women who were owning wedding dress boutiques, make up artists, photographers, caterers, florists etc. These are all successful, fulfilled women but for some reason they are not counted when we talking successful career women. I don’t think women generally are as power hungry as men, and probably just don’t want to turn their business into mega-corporations because they would lose their passion for it.

    I also think all we (men in the media) walk about is where there aren’t women politicians, running banks/utilities companes etc. But why would they want to run a bank? Wouldn’t a woman rather run Net-a-Porter? I know I would….

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