My post on LinkedIn (text below) generated some interest so I wanted to further explain my point about management and ambition.

In #LeanOut I talk a lot about the fact I never wanted to be a manager, and how it’s often mistaken for a lack of ambition. Many people who share this feeling can’t be honest about it at work because they won’t be taken as seriously and their influence can be diminished.

So, I was thrilled to stumble upon this comment from Steve Jobs in an old interview on YouTube. …


1. Human babies are born totally helpless. They are 100% dependent on other humans to survive (compare to say, a giraffe, that can walk hours after birth and scrounge for its own food)

2. Human babies meet their survival needs by triggering emotions in others. (ie. baby’s cry makes mom feel bad. feeding and comforting the baby stops the crying. mom feels good again)

3. As baby gets older and its needs for learning and socialization become more complex, baby must expand the range of emotions and behavior it can trigger in others. (ie. …


The following is a speech I gave to CS graduates at Pace University in 2016

When I was 21, I graduated University of Florida and packed my bags for New York City. Following an internship there the previous summer, I started working at a small marketing company — so small that I reported directly to the CFO, a woman named Dasha. Dasha was beautiful and confident and I was totally in awe of her. She wore tailored suits with shiny matching stilettos and a different studded broach for every day of the week. …


The last few years I spent at Google were the best of my entire career. I had moved into a new role focused on building our competitive value proposition for YouTube video ads. Which is a long-winded way of saying I wrote stories and pitches for our sales team (and lead trainings on delivery).

Because I got to do what I do best — write and tell stories — I churned out a trove of new sales pitches and lead dozens of trainings, most of which became very popular among sales people.

The positive results eventually got the attention of…


There’s a lot of snake oil masquerading as thought leadership in the business world. Today’s installment of ‘Why it’s BS’ will focus on one such example — Simon Sinek’s wildly popular Ted Talk, ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action,’ which he later turned into the book, Start with Why. At almost 50M views, it is one of the most widely watched Ted Talks of all time and has catapulted Sinek’s career as a top leadership and marketing guru.

The talk starts out with a question (actually, he starts out with 4 unrelated questions, but I’ve tried to distill it into one)…


Life Changing Book #1 See original post and explanation here.

Years ago, I was obsessed with a boy. It was not the first time I’d become fixated on winning someone’s affection and it certainly wasn’t the last. Obsession is a large part of how my brain works in bringing my ideas and desires to life. If I really want something, its as though a flip switches to the on position, and I become a dog possessed by a bone.

The particular boy in this story, let’s call him Charlie, emerged during a rough period of my life, and obsessing about…


On podcasts and in interviews I often get asked about my most influential mentors or the best advice I’ve received in my career. It’s hard to answer such questions because I’ve needed different people and different kinds of advice throughout the different stages of my life. On top of that, most of the truly life-changing wisdom I’ve embraced over the years hasn’t come from people I know, but from books I’ve read.

The most transformative books are those in which I learn a new idea, law, perspective, or principle of reality from which I can draw my own conclusions or…


Below is an excerpt from Lean Out that explains why as a measure of gender equality, the wage gap is at best meaningless, and at worst, compromises the needs of very people it’s intended to serve. I feel so strongly about it because so much of our time, attention, and energy is spent on this one issue when there are far greater problems like poverty and reproductive rights, which affect a much larger number of the nation’s women.

In 2008, Linda Babcock came to Google and gave a talk about her book, Ask for It: How Women Can Use the…


Adam Grant’s recent tweet about leadership brings up a couple of interesting questions. With research showing that compassionate and nurturing behaviors are more common among women, why are there so few female leaders in the corporate world? And if true leaders help the powerless, nurture others, and stop injustice (and I wholeheartedly agree with that characterization), then why is it that we so seldom see this kind of behavior at the leadership level in most large organizations?

The simplest answer comes down to language; we’ve confused the term ‘leader’ with ‘manager.’ To explain the critical difference between these terms…


I was being interviewed on a podcast this week when the host suggested that many people get upset at the idea that men and women are different when it comes to their aspirations and ambition in the workplace (we were specifically talking about the corporate world and large scale organizations)

The comment got me thinking… if a study reports that the majority of women like the color red, while the majority of men like green, or if someone makes the observation that young boys are more rambunctious than young girls, it’s usually accepted or even ignored. But if a study…

Marissa Orr

Ex Googler. Ex Facebooker. Truth teller. My book, Lean Out, is now available online and in stores https://amzn.to/2EcUjLP

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