Melinda Ott, January 23, 2014 (view all comments by Melinda Ott)
This is not a book I would ever had read if it weren't for my book club. Frankly, the topic just didn't interest me--I spent my time in the corporate world and am now quite happy doing the stay-at-home-mommy thing, but I also like to be an active part of my book club, so there you go.
I am also really struggling about what I think about this book. On the one hand, Sandberg makes some good points and I think any woman just starting out in the workforce would benefit by reading this book. And, it certainly is a well documented book! About the last 35% of it is just notes and citations!
That being said, I have two major concerns about this book. The first is that Sandberg writes from a place that few women will ever experience. While young women can certainly aspire to to emulate her, how many will actually graduate from Harvard Business School and then reach such high levels in companies such as Google and Facebook? And it isn't really her resume that concerns me, but the paycheck that comes with it. Because of her professional success (at what I would consider a young age), she can afford the help she needs to balance her personal and professional lives. It is true that she earned her paychecks and lifestyle and she should be commended for that, but her advice can be hard to swallow for a woman who does not have the financial standing that Sandberg enjoys.
My second concern is a bit more far-reaching. I spent over a decade in the corporate world and, while the situation varies from company to company, my observation is that there are some fundamental problems there. Yes, the gender issue is part of that, but just one part. There are many other diversity barriers plaguing our corporate, yet Sandberg writes as if gender inequality is the only barrier. I think that it would be very easy to read Lean In and be left with a very incomplete view of corporate America.
I waffled on how many stars to give this. While I do have some significant issues with this book, I did appreciate many of Sandberg's points and the conversations they may breed. I ultimately decided on 3 stars as I can't say I would recommend this book to just anyone and I do think that, at times, the drawbacks outweigh the benefits.
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Her point is well taken that women need to be better at putting themselves out there, so to speak. I just watched an interview on the CBS Morning Show in which the interviewee said one of the biggest reasons women make less than men at the same level is that they are poor negotiators. A point Sandberg illustrates in her recounting of her move to Facebook from Yahoo. Women don't always negotiate well because of real or false humility, something many men lack. But there are many men who are poor negotiators also and the idea that if you put yourself out there or "Lean In" you'll be more successful is a valid idea.
My major criticism of the book is her personal stories which are sometimes not really relevant to the main thrust of the book. Nevertheless this is a worthwhile read for anyone in the organizational world but particularly those beginning their career.
I'm retired and still found valuable information in what she said as I pursue my new career as a volunteer.
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writermala, April 1, 2013 (view all comments by writermala)
Where was Sheryl Sandberg when I was working? Indeed this is a book that should be read by all girls who want to grow up and work, succeed, and perhaps lead. More importantly it should be read by men too; I'd go so far as to say it should just be mandatory reading. Some of her statements(questions) like "Guilt Management, or Time Management," hit the nail on the head as far as attitudes go.
This book is well-researched, well-written, and has the necessary dose of humor to make it eminently readable.
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by Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state,
“Sheryl provides practical suggestions for managing and overcoming the challenges that arise on the ‘jungle gym’ of career advancement. I nodded my head in agreement and laughed out loud as I read these pages. LeanIn is a superb, witty, candid, and meaningful read for women (and men) of all generations.”
by Jim Collins, author of Good to Great,
“Sheryl Sandberg has done a tremendous service with this work. It offers a vital and sharp message, for women and men. We need great leaders in key seats spread throughout all sectors of society, and we simply cannot afford to lose 50 percent of the smartest, most capable people from competing for those seats. Provocative, practical, and inspired!”
by Wendy Kopp, founder and CEO, Teach for America,
“To tackle society’s most pressing problems we need to unleash the leadership of both women and men. Lean In shows us the path and is an absolutely invaluable resource for the next generation of leaders and those who support them.”
by Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO, Facebook,
“For the past five years, I’ve sat at a desk next to Sheryl and I’ve learned something from her almost every day. She has a remarkable intelligence that can cut through complex processes and find solutions to the hardest problems. Lean In combines Sheryl’s ability to synthesize information with her understanding of how to get the best out of people. The book is smart and honest and funny. Her words will help all readers — especially men — to become better and more effective leaders.”
by Jeff Immelt, CEO, General Electric,
“Sheryl is a unique business leader because of her versatility and breadth. She has the two traits that are common in every successful leader I have known: curiosity and determination. Sheryl brings all of her insight to Lean In, an important new book that companies can use to get the most out of their talent. With her ideas and actions, Sheryl will help to define leadership in the years to come.”
by Alicia Keys,
“The key to opening some of life’s most difficult doors is already in our hands. Sheryl’s book reminds us that we can reach within ourselves to achieve greatness.”
by Sir Richard Branson, chairman, the Virgin Group,
“If you loved Sheryl Sandberg’s incredible TEDTalk on why we have too few women leaders, or simply believe as I do that we need equality in the boardroom, then this book is for you. As Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg has firsthand experience of why having more women in leadership roles is good for business as well as society. Lean In is essential reading for anyone interested in righting the injustice of this inequality.”
by Chelsea Clinton,
“Lean In poses a set of ambitious challenges to women: to create the lives we want, to be leaders in our work, to be partners in our homes, and to be champions of other women. Sheryl provides pragmatic advice on how women in the twenty-first century can meet these challenges. I hope women — and men — of my generation will read this book to help us build the lives we want to lead and the world we want to live in.”
Sheryl Sandberg — Facebook COO, ranked eighth on Fortune's list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business — has become one of America's most galvanizing leaders, and an icon for millions of women juggling work and family. In her Lean In, she urges women to take risks and seek new challenges, to find work that they love, and to remain passionately engaged with it at the highest levels throughout their lives.
Lean In — Sheryl Sandberg's provocative, inspiring book about women and power — grew out of an electrifying TED talk Sandberg gave in 2010, in which she expressed her concern that progress for women in achieving major leadership positions had stalled. The talk became a phenomenon and has since been viewed nearly two million times. In Lean In, she fuses humorous personal anecdotes, singular lessons on confidence and leadership, and practical advice for women based on research, data, her own experiences, and the experiences of other women of all ages. Sandberg has an uncanny gift for cutting through layers of ambiguity that surround working women, and in Lean In she grapples, piercingly, with the great questions of modern life. Her message to women is overwhelmingly positive. She is a trailblazing model for the ideas she so passionately espouses, and she's on the pulse of a topic that has never been more relevant.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.