With a resume that includes Chief of Staff to the deputy Treasury secretary during the Clinton administration, VP of global online sales & operations at Google and now COO at Facebook, as well as a published author and women advocate, Sheryl Sandberg is the product of good schooling, hard work and determination. While she was lucky enough to have the support of her family, all of her accomplishments are her own.
If you have never read her book: Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead; you should. She brings up interesting points, such as the use of certain words like ‘just’. Women will write an email and say: “I ‘just’ wanted to check in and see how things were moving along with the project”. While a man, will say the exact same thing: WITHOUT the ‘just’. Women tend to feel the need to modify their language, and it is not necessarily a conscious decision. The whole point of the point is to teach women to Lean In, sit at the table, know that you as a female, as a woman, are every bit as good as the man sitting next to you.
One of my favorite anecdotes from the book is when Sandberg describes a college experience. She, her best friend and little brother all took the same course. She and her best friend studied incredibly hard all semester, they read all the material, turned in all the homework and poured their heart and souls into understanding what was being taught. Her younger brother? “He came to them the day before the final exam and said: Hey sis, can you help me study?” All three went into the test, two worried they wouldn’t do well, and one not concerned a bit. After the test the three discussed how they did. Sheryl was worried she hadn’t mentioned such and such a fact, her friend was worried she hasn’t spelled something correctly in the proper GREEK, and her brother simply said: “Oh, I know I aced it.” Turns out all three of them did.
I love Sandberg because she is open, and she isn’t afraid to share her failures as well as her successes. In a world where women in IT are the exception, not the rule, she has shone. Men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in major industries. Why? Our voices aren’t being heard, because we as women, are forced to decide if we want a career, or children. Sandberg argues that we shouldn’t have to choose; that we should be able to have both; and that we shouldn’t be scorned if we don’t want to be stay at home mothers, or judged for bringing our babies into work. The United States is the only country where mother’s are only given two to three months of maternity leave. After that, the government (male run) has decided that women should come back to work. Because they are so qualified to determine when a woman has bonded with their offspring. For some women, two months is not enough time, for others? Two months is more than plenty and they are ready to get back to work and don’t want to lose another minute pursuing their careers.
Sandberg is all about developing and keeping relationships, networking, meeting new people, helping people in any way she could. Before she mad the move from Google to Facebook, she talked with her boss, she spoke with her coworkers, she spoke with Mark Zuckerberg for weeks before making her decision. Google wanted her to stay, but not badly enough. They wanted to keep her in a position that wouldn’t allow for management responsibilities; she didn’t like that. “People at Google tried to persuade her to stay, pointing out that Facebook’s chief financial officer would not report to her and that she would not be invited to join its board of directors. But eventually she took the job. Later, Sandberg would tell people that Facebook was a company driven by instinct and human relationships. The point, implicitly, was that Google was not. Sandberg seemed to have insulted some of her former colleagues. “She could have handled her departure more crisply,” a senior Google official says” (newyorker.com). Once at Facebook, she made sure to make her presence known; she ensured that everyone knew who she was and that she was there to build relationships and learn everything she could about the company in order to make it the best she possibly could in any way she knew how. The woman is brilliant. Lean In.
Sandberg has written about her husband’s supportive role in her life and career. On March 5, 2015, she posted on Facebook: “I wrote in Lean In that the most important decision a woman makes is if she has a life partner and who that life partner will be. The best decision I ever made was to marry Dave. “On May 1, 2015, Goldberg died suddenly at the age of 47 while on a family vacation in Mexico. The cause of his death was head trauma after slipping on a treadmill. Sandberg wrote about her husband in a Facebook post following his death: “Dave was my rock. When I got upset, he stayed calm. When I was worried, he said it would be ok. When I wasn’t sure what to do, he figured it out. He was completely dedicated to his children in every way – and their strength these past few days is the best sign I could have that Dave is still here with us in spirit. . .Things will never be the same – but the world is better for the years my beloved husband lived (biography.com).”