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Sheryl Sandberg Tells Us to Lean In

lean in book review

Lean In. Don't judge this book by it's cover or the mixed press Sheryl Sandberg has received. It's not inflammatory, divisive or judgmental. It's a thoughtful look at the career issues facing high-achieving women.

Perfect for me, I found the book an excellent tool for upcoming negotiations with men, career planning and advice to give my girls. I'm a fair-weathered feminist. Free To Be You and Me? Check. Volunteer at a Women's Shelter? Check. Teaching my girls they can do anything? Check. But that's about it. I've lived more through my actions than as an activist. When I see someone like Yahoo's Sheryl Sandberg put her form of feminism out there, I was impressed.

Unless she's running for office (unknown), Sandberg had no reason to write this other than to "help a sister out." She's got plenty of money and power. But rather than pull the ladder up with her, she's trying to add many ladders, ropes and trampolines to help others rise up.

On a business trip this week I tore through Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. It's a quick read with plenty of facts and studies (perhaps too many), I quickly got the point--there aren't enough women at the top. Women have to negotiate differently because men look at us with a different set of expectations. Fair or not, they don't respond well to female competence and confidence.

I never felt that Sandberg blamed women and girls for keeping themselves out of the mix. She merely exposes things we may have been doing to sabotage our careers--for instance we tend to overthink opportunities especially when considering family planning. Sandberg advises taking career risks and trusting that the childcare issues will work themselves out.

In addition to not psyching ourselves out of opportunities, there were too more big takeaways.

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Marry well. It's not about marrying for money. In fact that can hurt you. Sandberg writes that many of her classmates from the MBA program at Harvard are now stay-at-home moms. It's important to find a partner who values your career and is willing to do a fair share of housework.

Don't wait for opportunities. Make your own experience by taking risks and putting your name in the hat. You can'f get a promotion if you aren't a known quantity. Yes, we might have to work longer and harder, but no one is going to hand us opportunities on a silver platter.

Warning: This book is meant for the 1%.There's not much feminism for the middle and lower classes here. Sandberg had the benefit of two Harvard degrees to guide her career path, and her problems are "high class problems." That doesn't discount the value of this book. It's a great reminder that good things come to she who raises her hand and leaves it up.

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