Lean In – Book Review

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So I've finished reading Lean In and boy was it a page-turner (figuratively speaking of course, because I “read” the audio version). First of all, where has this book been all my life? Secondly, shame on me for not picking it up as soon as it was released last March. I can’t even begin to imagine how helpful this book would have been to me about 13 years ago when I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. But I digress, so let's get into the present and by present I don't just mean present day I mean the gift that I have given myself by finally making the decision to purchase this book.

So one day while surfing the Internet, I stumbled upon a Ted Talk given by Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg. Now if you're not familiar with Ted Talks, please get familiar because man, are you missing out. Essentially, Ted Talks are a series of short conferences that are live streamed and then archived on Ted.com. The talks range in subject matter and are given by industry leaders, activists, celebrities and a slew of other influential types. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Malcolm Gladwell, Tony Robbins and Bono for example, have all given some noteworthy Talks. See Sandberg's Talk below:

But back to the book. Like most self-help books (although Sheryl rejects the idea that Lean In fits this classification) it highlights several things that you very likely would have already known prior to happening upon it in Lean In. The advantage is that the book frames these concepts with relatable scenarios and fact based data. Yes, of course you know that women historically have always gotten paid less than men, but did you know that in 40 years, through all of our fighting and protesting, that we’ve only been able to raise compensation by 18 cents for every dollar. Yes, you know that women often choose family before career but have you thought about how many women do this before they even have a partner in mind for starting that family with? Lean In covers this and many other topics smartly, advising women not to torment themselves with the notion of choosing work over an imaginary family.

Sheryl does a great job of incorporating her own personal stories in along with the stories of other women, juxtaposing the thought provoking anecdotes alongside the cold hard facts. Rarely do we get to delve into the mind of women at the top, especially one as prominent and successful as Sandberg. For this reason, I believe it's beyond advantageous for young, burgeoning, professional women and dream chasers like my self to hear what the race really involves from the perspective of a woman who has already made it and still holds a place on top.

This book is one that I definitely plan to keep in my arsenal and revisit whenever I feel like I need a refresher on the proper moves to make when navigating through this corporate jungle. If you're still unsure about whether or not this one is worth picking up, at minimum, please take a look at Sheryl's Ted Talk above and view some of my favorite excerpts from the book below.  Let's make power moves ladies. Thanks for reading.


J. Daniel

Women have to prove themselves to a far greater extent than men do. A 2011 McKinsey report noted that men are promoted based on potential, while women are promoted based on past accomplishments.

Feeling confident – or pretending that you feel confident – is necessary to reach for opportunities. It’s a cliché, but opportunities are rarely offered; they’re seized.

We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands and by pulling back when we should be leaning in. We internalize the negative messages we get throughout our lives; the messages that say it’s wrong to be out spoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. We lower our own expectations of what we can achieve.

Please ask yourself : “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?” and then go do it.

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