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Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg is an amazing book which highlights the irony of the society and workplace culture which talks about feminism and still is unsupportive and biased towards women in the corporate world. Though written in 2003, the contents of the book reflect the outlook towards the women workforce decades ago, hold true at the current time and might prevail for quite sometime in future.

Sheryl talks about how women themselves are shy of taking responsibilities & challenges, do not  raise their voice in fear of being looked down at and create barriers for themselves. Throughout the book, she has compared the life of a male professional with the  female counterpart. A successful female faces challenges at work as well as home to prove and establish herself. While men are applauded for being successful, women pay a social penalty for the same success.

Loved so many anecdotes and real examples from the book. Sheryl has shared her experiences from her work at Google, Facebook and Treasury and lot of data facts from various surveys. Every chapter had something which would make you nod your head or think about. I’ll share few which I liked the most!

I liked the ‘fake till you feel it’ strategy in chapter ‘Sit at the Table’. Feeling confident or rather pretending to feel confident is essential to reach out for opportunities (which are rarely offered, but seized). Just a mere change in your posture for short time can bring out a lot of change in your attitude.

In the chapter ‘Success and Likeability’, Sheryl explains that success and likeability are positively correlated for men but negatively correlated for women. A successful man is liked more by both men and women whereas a successful woman is less liked by both the genders.

In the next chapter, she describes the corporate world as a ‘Jungle gym’ and not a ladder. One needs to embrace uncertainty, override natural tendencies, choose growth and take risk to grab opportunities for growth.

‘Are You my Mentor’ is another interesting chapter where she says that women more often seek for a mentor to get a push up the ladder making themselves more dependent on others. A Mentor can be helpful for a career but in Sheryl’s words: “We need to stop telling them , ‘Get a mentor and you will Excel’. Instead, we need to tell them, “Excel and you will get  a mentor’.

‘Seek and Speak the Truth’ chapter talks about power of correct way of communication. Same thing can be said in different ways: one can trigger a disagreement, another can spark a discussion! ‘When communicating hard truths, less is often more’! She also talks listening as an art and importance of honest feedback.

‘Make your partner a Real Partner’ was my favourite chapter and should be the chapter to be read if you want to selectively read the book. It talks about how career  and marriage need to be managed to strike a balance. Men should be encouraged to ‘lean in’ to their families to support the working women. She advises women to find an ‘equal partner’ who think that woman should be smart, opinionated and ambitious and who values fairness.

‘Myth of Doing it All’ chapter highlights the fact that none of us can do it all. Everyone has to constantly make a choice between work and family, exercising and relaxing, making time for others and ourselves. Expecting perfection is a recipe for disappointment.

This book should be read by all women who aspire to have a successful career along with taking care of their family and all men who have got a working women around them so they can support them better and more. Men need to support women more and women need to lean in and help themselves to bring about a good positive change.

Some quotes:

“Done is better than perfect.”

“When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.

“There is no perfect fit when you’re looking for the next big thing to do. You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around. The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.”

“Fortune does favor the bold and you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.”

“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

“But the upside of painful knowledge is so much greater than the downside of blissful ignorance.”

“Women need to shift from thinking “I’m not ready to do that” to thinking “I want to do that- and I’ll learn by doing it.”

“When woman work outside the home and share breadwinning duties, couples are more likely to stay together. In fact, the risk of divorce reduces by about half when a wife earns half the income and a husband does half the housework.”

“Aggressive and hard-charging women violate unwritten rules about acceptable social conduct. Men are continually applauded for being ambitious and powerful and successful, but women who display these same traits often pay a social penalty. Female accomplishments come at a cost.”

“Writing this book is not just me encouraging others to lean in. This is me leaning in. Writing this book is what I would do if I weren’t afraid.”

“I believe women can lead more in the workplace.

I believe men can contribute more in the home. And I believe that this will create a better world, one where half our institutions are run by women and half our homes are run by men.”
“Every job will demand some sacrifice. The key is to avoid unnecessary sacrifice.”