Sheryl Sandberg’s Book: What Do You Think?

March 11, 2013 | By | Comments (22)

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

If you are a living, breathing, human resident of our fine nation, at this point you can’t escape Sheryl Sandberg and her new book, Lean In. I am less interested in the book itself (which I read, though quickly) than I am in all the conversation around the book.  I really can’t figure out what I think about the whole thing. I want to know what you think.

Please be kind enough to choose one of the responses below and tell me your choice in the comments:

1. Sheryl Sandberg is the voice of a new generation of women. And thank heaven for that.
2. Sheryl Sandberg cannot possibly understand me or my problems because she is worth $2.7 billion.
3. I want to be Sheryl Sandberg.
4. I want Sheryl Sandberg to be my boss, or at least my friend.
5. I want Sheryl Sandberg to be president.
6. I want Sheryl Sandberg to go away.
7. I would lean in if I wanted to, but I don’t.
8. None of the above. Instead, here’s what I think…

Please help me figure this out. At this point I keep leaning back and then leaning in, and although I am probably strengthening my core, it’s making me exhausted!


  1. dana

    Sheryl Sandberg is the voice of a new generation of women. And thank heaven for that.

    I was voted “Most Sarcastic” and “Class Feminist” in high school. Thanks to the minimal vocabulary of high school students, it was basically, ‘Class B*tch’. I do not wish to be Sheryl Sandberg, as I am her. I have always had a really strong voice and opinion and growing up people always knocked me down. Had I not gotten up 1 last time I would not be in the place I am today. If I sat down, shut up and did as I was told. I would not currently be in my dream job. I just wish people would hear her voice, listen and understand. I just spent this last week negotiating my salary with my promotion (less than $50k). I failed, but no doubt do I feel like I did everything I possibly could. I fought for myself and I wish others would see and voice their value as I fought for mine.

    I love her quote “I hope girls are no longer called bossy but called leaders” speaks volumes. Ever wonder why we women are so worried about their looks and have such low self-esteem? Ever since we were kids adults told us “I love your dress!” or “you look so pretty!” and then one day real life happened and it stopped. When we don’t hear this affirmation often we thinking poorly of ourselves. But it’s not others we should be relying on. It’s within ourselves.

    March 11, 2013 at 6:09 pm
  2. Sarah Cunningham (@scunningham71)

    I don’t know if her voice and opinion comes from a place that’s much different than, say, that of Meg Whitman (eBay), Carly Fiorina (Hp), Carol Bartz (SunMicrosystems, Autodesk, Yahoo!), Hilary Clinton (we all know her, yes?), Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo), Marissa Mayer (Yahoo!), Dusty Rhodes (Conventures – she is the mind behind the Tufts 10K for Women, the largest women’s running event in the US), Christine Comaford (Mighty Ventures) or even seemingly “born into it” success heiresses like Abigail Johnson (Fidelity) or Ivanka Trump (obviously). Sandberg isn’t the first or only voice chiming in on women and leadership. She won’t be the last. My take? if I see something – an article, a blog post, a tweet – about her or her book that speaks to me maybe I’ll read it. If I don’t, then I won’t. Her success might not be typical or even relatable to me, but that doesn’t mean her voice isn’t worth hearing. There’s a grain of something to learn from everyone, I think.

    March 11, 2013 at 6:09 pm
  3. Kristin Appenbrink

    Dana, I, too, like that quote. It reminds me of this article from The Huffington Post from a couple of years ago: Lisa Bloom’s “How to talk to Little Girls” I have it bookmarked as a reminder as my friends start having kids.

    March 11, 2013 at 6:15 pm
  4. Nicki

    I think Sandberg has a point. That being said, I am ready to not buy the book because I am sick of hearing about it. I’ve done my leaning in. I’m ready to watch someone else lean in.

    March 11, 2013 at 6:16 pm
  5. Jamie MacGibbon, RD (@aweighforkids)

    I feel confident that women have more choices and options that ever. We need to quit complaining. Clearly Ms. Sandberg is an extremely intelligent, driven woman who has become incredibly successful, by her definition and standards. I work part time now but stayed home full time for years with my three kids and am THRILLED that I could do it. Wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I’m not even sure what her point is (I didn’t read the book but did see her on 60 Minutes last night). I am tired of hearing about people being treated unfairly. Man or woman – work hard, do your best, reach for your dreams. It is a very individual decision. I guess for those women in Sheryl’s position or similar ones, the point is to be aggressive. Although, I don’t completely agree with the second point above, I guess that is where I would fall closest. Hope I made sense….

    March 11, 2013 at 7:25 pm
  6. Sharon

    8. None of the above. Instead, here’s what I think…

    “Leaning in” does not actually work for everyone. It depends highly on the work environment on accepting your participation and your style in delivery… and frankly, your remaining amount of patience.

    March 11, 2013 at 9:12 pm
  7. Elizabeth Rosales

    8. I haven’t read the book, but I saw a special on television, and she made me realize that she was right about a lot of things, and I have not only been underestimating myself, but I have been holding myself back as well. I am not really happy in my present career, and listening to her talk for just a few minutes helped me to see that I have wanted something more in a career for a long time. She seemed genuine, happy, and willing to share her insight.

    March 11, 2013 at 11:28 pm
  8. Marion

    Women are at the table, we are leading companies, we do have choices available to us that were not possible 25 years ago. My struggle with this book/movement is that it treats all women the same! I know plenty of women who lean in, but I also know women who sit back and make people lean in to hear her. We should honor and respect that women have different ways of working toward success and different ways of defining success.

    March 12, 2013 at 10:00 am
  9. ariananunez

    6. I want Sheryl Sandburg to go away.

    Did we really need this woman to tell us what we already know? How about changing policies so men and women are paid the same, if not more? I AM Sheryl Sandburg. I am living the life I desire. Whoever is listening to this woman is very ignorant and obviously lives in a suppressed community, because even small town women are taking control of their lives.

    March 12, 2013 at 10:21 am
  10. Mary

    My parents told me,”You can be anything you want to be if you study hard and keep your nose clean.” They were right. I had choices and met with success in both my profession and home. I tire of the tirade that women are treated unfairly. Call me ofd fashioned, but I worry that women’s insistence on “being in charge” is part and parcel of men’s backing out of their needed roles in the home.

    March 12, 2013 at 7:42 pm
  11. stnickmedia

    8. None of the above. Instead, here’s what I think…
    I read the book, and while I don’t agree with everything Sheryl Sandberg has to say, I like the fact that she bothered to say it. Of course it will make her a mint…:) Overall, I thought two things: First, Sheryl Sandberg has a much deeper need to be liked than I do. She purposely hid or did not talk about her accomplishments, promotions and achievements during many times of her life so that more people would like her and not think her bossy, aggressive, masculine, or virtually unlikeable. I guess I just don’t care that much what other people think. Maybe I should. Second, until almost the end of the book, Sheryl Sandberg neglects a point that I think makes more difference than the cultural stereotypes she focuses on for most of the book. In many, many, many cases, women not only don’t mentor other women, they actively sabotage other women they see as prettier, smarter, more talented, or simply more in favor (right or wrong). I have experienced many cases where women will lie, manipulate, and undermine in order to prevent another woman from getting ahead. It’s disturbing, and I don’t see it as much (if at all) between male co-workers. Men tend to be much more transparent… So, why can’t women get ahead? Because they are their own worst enemies. I don’t see that changing.

    March 23, 2013 at 2:08 pm
  12. Melanie

    Amen to the above comment. There is a TON of “women sabotaging women” going on and until we get past that, we are still fighting an uphill battle. I see it with my daughter’s friends as I have seen it throughout my own life. Men might fight dirty but you usually know that it’s happening. Women are a lot more sneaky……..

    March 25, 2013 at 6:49 pm
  13. shelly

    Just want to say that I love reading your editor’s notes, especially like this month’s (May) article regarding your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg’s book. You always have a great way of putting thoughts onto paper.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:42 am
  14. Shea Welllford

    I want you to read the book less quickly, and be more interested in it, at least at first, than what other people think about it.

    April 12, 2013 at 11:38 pm
  15. Jennifer Pembroke Johnson

    #8 – Sheryl Sandberg has reopened a conversation about equality in the household as well as the workforce. And I stress the former. What makes the male in the household any less responsible for the laundry, the groceries, the costume for the school play? Yet, more often than not, household equality is skewed as much as the pay scale is.

    What I found most disappointing over this conversation was the comment made in the editors note – that you dont want to be striving for bigger/better/higher/more every minute of every day… You, Kristin, have a pretty good seat at the table as is – one that you most likely did not achieve by sitting in the back row, not speaking up.

    There is always a bigger/better/higher career move – I’d like to think Sandberg’s book is there to inspire those who are not sitting center court to do more for themselves and their career. If her words help women refocus themselves on their career – well good for her.

    April 14, 2013 at 10:14 pm
  16. Evelyn Cucchiara

    Leaning in has become just another thing on my TO DO list. Sigh.And it comes along just when I think I have a handle on my life.

    April 15, 2013 at 9:31 am
  17. Dana E. Neuts

    I really appreciated your “editor’s note” in the May 2013 issue, which addressed your hesitation to embrace “Lean In.” I haven’t read it yet, but have heard a lot of positive feedback. I love that you weren’t afraid to share your thoughts on it, particularly because they go against the grain of popular opinion. Your thoughts were well-stated and much appreciated. I couldn’t agree more – “I don’t always want to have a larger goal. That just sounds exhausting and, worst of all, completely joyless.”

    Thank you for not being afraid to speak up and to do so gracefully and respectfully. If I ever make it from freelance writer to managing editor, I hope I’ll do the same.

    Dana Neuts
    Kent, Washington

    April 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm
  18. Megan Smulski

    8. None of the above. Instead, here’s what I think…after reading your Huff Post article, I felt compelled to reach out. I understand that women everywhere, in the office or home, educated and married or not, with or without children – and so on – are going to receive this book very differently. I’d like to make one distinction and give you one thing to think of.

    Sheryl is not saying “this is what you, fair reader, should be doing, if you want to be successful and a model for our gender and those that follow.” What she was stating were carefully researched facts and what to do if we want those facts to read a little differently in 5 or 10 years. I applaud her bravery for making a clear concise case statement that she believes in, which from what I can tell, was met with rampant snarkery from many women. How disappointing! This gender on gender nastiness is something that she, in fact, does make note of in her book. After reading countless comments and reviews, I firmly believe that most critics of the book did not take the time out to read and process the actual message. What she was saying – actually, if you read the book – was go get it. Don’t wait for your joy (whether it be in your career, with your children, in your home or marriage, or just splurging for a second cup of coffee) you after what you think you want and be confident in the process.

    I’ve been a subscriber to Real Simple since it’s inception. It’s something that my mother, sister and I all read and pass around, making notes on recipes and ideas to share with each other. In fact, in a recent article I came across 20 ways to upgrade your bathroom…and in previous issues, 50 ways to organize your home….25 make ahead meals..6 ways to feel skinnier in your jeans…..and so on. Aren’t these topics just a version of “leaning in?” It’s application happens to be in the home/person life and is under the guide of “life made easier,” but it’s really telling me to upgrade my bathroom, organize my home and make my meals ahead. All of which I pray to someday have time for as an executive, wife and mom (to 1 cute canine and 1 adorable human). These articles encourage us to pick ourselves up, see a goal/challenge and go after it – our joy, per se – just like “Lean In,” encourages women to do in the corporate world.

    In full disclosure, I was extremely disappointed to read the piece on Huffington Post. I believe that everyone is entitled to her own opinion but given your magazine, your position and the often “friendzine” role in women’s lives, I thought that the post did not advance the conversation and even failed to add anything of relevance. Instead, it created a point of contention, making this issue a polarizing one and invented a forum for other women air their grievances, educated or not, about the book.

    The phrases I believe are “if you can’t say something nice….” and the other “people in glass houses…”

    Megan Smulski
    Pittsburgh, PA

    May 15, 2013 at 3:31 pm
  19. Lisa

    Sheryl Sandberg is the voice of a new generation of women. And thank heaven for that.

    I disagree with several of the comments above. She is worth so much because she chose to lean in, make a stand and create change. She wrote the book for someone like me who is starting out to not give up. I don’t have kids yet and so her advice was perfect. Don’t wait but at the same time, don’t leave because I’m thinking about starting a family.

    It also helped me relationship as well. My husband read the book and realized what I did for him. All of a sudden, without asking, dishes were cleaned, laundry put away . . . he realized that he needed to take his half.

    Sheryl Sandberg brings a new light on feminism and a great vote of confidence.

    June 27, 2013 at 7:03 pm
  20. Kath\

    #8 None of the above, My mother would just call her plain and simply a SNOB! She has a right to her opinion, But that is all that it is, her opinion. She does not speak for me or the women who I grew up teaching me life lessions on how to be the best person I can be. It is a shame there are people who are so shallow that they use this book as there guide.

    July 1, 2013 at 10:06 am
  21. Cathy Cahill

    She is the voice of women and thank heaven for that. Thank heaven she is writing what I live at work inside tmyself and in work relationships. I am in my 50s and divorced, single and I identify with her. I keep a fabulous New Yorker cartoon on my desk with 4 men and 1 woman at a board table. The caption reads “that is a wonderful idea Mrs …..perhaps one of the men would like to suggest it.” Her book is so well written. Keep the conversation going. I have also been told it is annoying to our male leader that I talk too much.

    July 24, 2013 at 7:42 pm
  22. Maureen Spinney

    I loved her book but wish I had read it years ago when I was starting my career. I am taking her advice and have passed the book on to a younger woman I know just starting out. The book offers great advice that men could also learn from as they begin their careers.

    August 21, 2013 at 8:35 am

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