lean-in by sheryl sandberg

28 Aug

I just finished reading “Lean-In” by Sheryl Sandberg, and I totally loved this book! I only wish I had read it when I was starting my career, oh, about a dozen years ago. But I guess Sheryl was in her “not feminist” phase at that time :-p

What I loved about this book… a lot of common sense advice, in an easy-to-read format. The book is not too long, and she quotes extensively from latest research studies. There are about 40 pages of fine print foot-notes for those who are intrigued by the details of the studies.

I first heard Sheryl give a talk at some event, can’t remember where/which one. That was when I first heard the “Lean In” concept. It really spoke to me, and I started repeating it like my mantra. In my interpretation, it simply means to do more. And not let narrow imaginary walls hold me back.

A lot of my views around Lean In have formed through reading Sheryl’s interviews elsewhere. I think her views came out more clearly in those sometimes, when she could be more informal. Some of the great ideas she highlights in her book:

“Rubin likes gold” moment: 

Sheryl Sandberg talks about this incident in her book “Lean-In”. Secretary Rubin was appointed the co-chairman of the board of Goldman Sachs. At the end of his first week, he noticed Goldman Sachs was heavily invested in Gold. When he asked about it, he was told it was based upon his advice! Apparently, on his first day, he had commented “Gold looks interesting”. That got translated into “Rubin likes gold”, and someone down the chain invested millions of dollars in gold!

Mentors are not Prince Charming:

Sheryl has an interesting perspective on “mentors”. Women are often told, “Get a mentor, and you will excel.” That is another take on a Prince Charming coming-in to rescue you. Instead, Sheryl advocates “Excel, and you will get a mentor.”

I so agree with that. No matter what advice the mentors give, at the end of the day, we ourselves have to execute on them, and we are responsible for how it turns out.

Find a suitable partner:

Sheryl talks about finding a partner who will lean-in at home more, allowing you to lean-in more at work.

I can’t emphasize this enough. I think it’s very important for couples to support each other in their passions. Somehow, we never think about this aspect when dating or looking for a relationship. But it’s really important, right up along with their FICO score 🙂 (that’s from Suze Orman, and a future blog post)

Oh, and through-out the book, she refers to Dave as her “partner”, not as “husband”. I thought she was just being politically correct, being from California and all, you know. But a colleague pointed-out to me… that’s her “partner”, as in “equal partner”. Wow! What a thought!!

Lean-In when you are going to have a baby

“The best time for a woman to take-on a new and challenging job is right before having a child. If she finds her new role challenging and rewarding, she is more likely to be excited about returning back to work.”  Another brilliant idea!

“Career loving parent”, a nice alternative to “working parent”

Work-Life Balance:

If you’re getting burnt out at work, check to see if you have any vacation left. Why would you think about quitting a job if you’re not giving it a fair shot?

She also talks about going public with her policy of leaving work at 5:30 to be with her kids. Yes, I remember reading about that. And I remember thinking… if she can do it, and be successful, so can I.  Oh, and that’s a rant I have heard from many parents… even single dads, who felt compromised at their work-place because they had to leave sharply at a certain time, even in the middle of a meeting.

Final thoughts:

“We cannot change what we are unaware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.”



8 Responses to “lean-in by sheryl sandberg”

  1. Pradeep Kumar, QPK Sales & Consulting, Inc August 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    Thanks Deep, that was short and sweet – to the point.

    We all need to be reminded of those gems of truth …. take it or let the experience teach you over time. Enjoyed!

    Pradeep Kumar

  2. Amit Rege August 28, 2013 at 11:52 pm #

    I had been hoping to catch what Lean In meant. I guess I will have to look some more.

    • deepthoughttoday August 29, 2013 at 1:21 am #

      “In my interpretation, it simply means to do more. And not let narrow imaginary walls hold me back.”
      Lean-In to work, and not step-back and take lower responsibility roles for the sake of a future marriage, future kids etc. Don’t stand at the periphery of the circle, lean-in to the circle and play the game.
      She doesn’t really define the term anywhere, but just builds around it in the book.
      I do highly recommend the book to men as well. They will gain greater insight into women’s issues, and a lot of the advice is pretty generic across the genders.

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