lean in; a review

Lean In, By Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In, By Sheryl Sandberg

Book 32/50

I just read a stat that while Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In is a bestseller, only 12% of the consumers actually finish reading the book. This is unsurprising, I’d say. As women, we all love the idea of equality and becoming a strong career woman. But it’s challenging; it’s easy to aspire to change the way things are, but when push comes to shove, change is hard to execute. How do we set the wheels in motion? Sandberg has some answers.

I think everyone will take away different key notes from Sandberg’s incredible action-inspiring book, depending on their own strengths and weaknesses. In Lean In, Sandberg describes her career path, her struggles as a woman in a professional career, and changes that we all need to make in order to push past the barriers.

Lean In is a book that both men and women should read cover to cover. I have urged my husband to read it, and I wish that more men would. Sandberg articulated and flushed out so many of the internal thoughts of inferiority that I had been feeling for so long. I had always figured that my many moments of low self esteem, despite my sometimes confident demeanor, were just me being Insecure Kelly. Sandberg has these feelings too, and if she does than something definitely needs to change, because she is a very accomplished (COO of Facebook), seemingly confident (gives Ted Talks), inspiring leader (just wait until you read the book!).

*Notice how I didn’t say female leader? Hopefully, one day, we won’t feel the need to point out when a woman has climbed up the ranks and that leaders will just be leaders.*

Lean In was a fantastic read to get into after finishing I Am That Girl (check out my blog post and manifesto here) and becoming a part of the revolution. Lean In is taking the I Am That Girl journey further into the workplace. Sandberg touches on key points like women needing to work together more, women needing to have more confidence in themselves and women leaning in and sitting at the head table with everybody else, all while using real life examples.

Since I want everyone to read this book (and no, it isn’t just for career-driven women, it is for any woman or man who notices an imbalance), I am just going to pick out some of my favorite points Sandberg touched on. It’s hard to narrow them down, but as I mentioned above, we will all have our own key takeaways from this book, since we all have different inner demons, social surroundings, upbringings, and work place experiences. I compiled some of my favourite points and referenced the page numbers if you want to skip ahead and read more in depth about each point and why Sandberg makes the statements she does:

On taking risks:  Taking risks often depends on girls taking risks and advocating for one’s self. Girl’s academic gains haven’t yet translated to significantly higher number of women in top jobs. Pg. 15

Women need to be more open to taking risks in their careers. The cost of stability has often diminished opportunities for growth. Pg. 61

On why boys are rarely called ‘bossy’ as an insult, but girls are: “Boys are seldom called bossy because a boy taking the role of a boss does not offer surprise or offend.” Pg. 19

On ‘Impostor Syndrome’: There is a lot of interesting information on imposter syndrome in Lean In. Tina Fey has also admitted to having experiencing it; we all feel like frauds. Pg. 29

On the Faking it Till You Feel it: “Fake it till you feel it” strategy. Pg. 34

On women tempering professional goals: “Self doubt becomes a form of self defense.” Pg. 41

On advice that was given to Sheryl: “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat. You just get on.” This piece of advice was given to Sheryl when she was deciding which company to look for. Hint: the answer is the fastest growing ones. pg 58.

Identity your weakness and the aim to correct it. Pg 60

On being your own biggest supporter: Advocate for yourself!!! You must. No one is going to place a tiara on your head. (I’ve got to say, I love that!) Pg. 63

On the current state of mentoring in America: We need to say to ourselves “Excel and you will get a mentor,” instead of get a mentor and you will excel. Pg. 68

On the benefits of working women in any industry: Sandberg provides statistics that show “employed women reap rewards including greater financial security, more stable marriages, better health, and in general, increased life satisfaction.” Pg. 24

On listening: We all want to be heard, and when we focus on showing others that we are listening, we actually become better listeners. Pg 81

On asking the right questions: Ask questions: how can I do better? What am I doing that I don’t know? What am I doing that I don’t see? This is so important because we need constructive feedback in order to grow. Pg. 83

On finding a supportive mate: Find a partner who won’t be intimidated by your success. Find a partner who is your equal in household chores and supportive of your career. Sadly, there are some men who don’t want women to be considered as successful (or more) than they are. Pg. 117

On doing it all and being perfect: “Having it all” is a trap. There’s no way to do ‘it all’. Pg. 122.

Perfection is the enemy. Pg. 123

On women supporting women: Women need to support other women, otherwise how will there be a movement? “We need to start validating one another.” (Page 168).

This definitely is a branch of the I Am That Girl revolution. Sandberg references a great Betty Friedan example on pg. 162.

On the future: “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” Pg. 172. I think that may be my favorite quote from the book.


Please, I urge you to pick up Lean In. If we don’t start making a move, taking the steps, leaning in, and finishing the book, we’ll never see the change we want in the world.


The Lean In community is available on Facebook here.

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