Sheryl Sandberg — Lean In

I found myself exclaiming “Why didn’t I read this earlier!!”. Since “that” TED talk, it’s been on my mind. In fact that talk was quite helpful in the early days of my career. I remember declaring on one of those Sunny weekdays in San Jose at Philz coffee, “I want to organise a women’s conference, in Helsinki, we’ll get Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, Anne Berner and Inka Mero”.

These were women I admired, women that could bring “the fire”

The men sitting in front of me looked at me in amusement and muttered something about Marissa Mayer having some Finnish roots. That’s it, “let’s do it!” I replied.

In the years that followed, I discovered that the idea of women, leaning in while fashionable does not sell too well. There are two schools of women.

  1. Women who feel that other women should be motivated, encouraged, given a leg up if you will.
  2. Women who are repulsed by the idea of talking or identify the “women issue”. To them it’s an insult, it simply doesn’t exist. If you are the best at what you do nobody cares. They say. After all they made it into the boy’s clubs.

Reading Lean In, was emotional. Many things began to make sense, in 2 days I finished the book. Jumping from bed, to chair, to floor, the book almost never leaving my hand, in the hotel room I shared with my husband. We were on a Christmas getaway you see.

  1. There IS a “women issue”. Talk is cheap, and sometimes even vocal “I am a feminist” males will show a “different” colour when push comes to shove. I have come to be weary of these ones. Mansplaining anyone!
  2. As a woman, it is okay to admit the issue, to feel the pressure, to recognise my pain and those of other women.
  3. Equality is vital to the survival of all. As an African woman, this is even more poignant.
  4. Sharing experiences can be powerful and helpful in unfathomable ways.
  5. Whatever you do, go hard, learn more, do better, make yourself proud.
  6. Celebrate yourself.

Now to some more practical notes from the book.

About negotiation

  1. Always know what YOU want. Always.
  2. Do not accept the first offer, just don’t.
  3. Speak less, take long pauses, it forces the other person to speak more.
  4. Be positive, and smile, game face.
  5. Don’t make it about qualifying/quantifying your worth, make it about the value of the task/the solution you bring to the table.

About life and career

  1. Set goals, long term, 13months, short term, 3 months.
  2. Set new “skill” goals. Make a skill map. To get you to your dream state.
  3. If you have a partner work with your partner, let them be a real partner. Play to each other’s strength, and give each other space to do “their tasks” as they see fit.
  4. Money is good. Don’t be afraid to talk about money and get that money.

Recap

If I do take the opportunity to produce a full on Women event, I’d still go with the original suggestions with some additions, Serena Williams, Rihanna, Mervi Palander. If you are interested in making this happen, definitely contact me.