Book Note: “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg



I have become sufficiently insulated from the rigamarole that used to be my life of trying to find the next advantage, the next opportunity for career, and the next project to propel me to new heights of success. My current boss is half my size, runs a tight ship, and expects me to wait on her hand-and-foot daily (we’re working on that). If I made any rumblings to a promotion (defined as more responsibilities – defined as more children), she would flat out refuse. She’s a skilled negotiator when she wants to be but only when it concerns her interests, not on behalf of anyone else – currently trying to bargain with her father and I for 2 M&M’s for trying to go potty and 3 M&M’s if she succeeds. We’re holding strong at 1 and 2, but she appears to have an unlimited source of energy to advocate for what she’s passionate about (when she learns the word “inflation” and the phrase “things have changed since your day” we’ll know we’re sunk).

And that’s just it. She’s the reason we read this book. I’m not in a place where I want to climb a ladder – or even a jungle gym as the book suggests. I’d really just like to figure out a way to get my boss to sleep through the night. But when my husband suggested that we read the book and then discuss it, entirely because we were raising a little girl to be a young woman, I couldn’t argue.

Lean In is a simple challenge for women to be more proactive and engaged in the subtle dynamics that underpin their value or opportunity in the workforce. Sandberg provides clear and practical examples of what some of these situations look like as well as positive and negative examples of how they have been/can be handled. While it is clear from the beginning of the book that this is meant to encourage and empower women to push for more leadership positions in their career – rather than back down because of family concerns or self-inflicted factors – Sandberg makes efforts to support and affirm women who do not choose this route.

A book about women’s leadership is certainly a contender as a “must-read” for women, but Sandberg’s repeated acknowledgement of the role of involved partners and active male mentors makes a strong case for men to be reading it as well.

My husband and I both thought the text faded a bit at the end, but overall the book was worth considering. At the very least, it provides excellent fodder for discussion. And it’s a discussion worth having. And continuing to have. Respectfully. And with an understanding that not every woman wants to swap time with children for a corporate job – possibly not every man wants to either.

If you are a young woman in the professional realm, regardless of whether you are considering a family or not, it is absolutely worth a read. Most of the book circles the work/family conundrum and early career decisions.

As for me, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be at this time in my life so I enjoyed reading the book but didn’t get hot and bothered about the strategies and observations.

4 Responses to “Book Note: “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg”

  1. Carrie Rubin

    I LOVE that your husband suggested the two of you read it. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ll probably check it out at some point. And I well remember the days of which you speak. We sometimes used M&Ms, too, but mostly stickers. And since we had boys, we made paper boats to be aimed at. They loved shooting those with their streams. Boats or cheerios. They enjoyed aiming for those, too. 🙂

    • RebeccaV

      I would recommend borrowing the book for a casual read – unless you’re the type to take detailed notes in the margins 🙂 I think we made a rookie parent mistake and indulged her sticker interest too early – they no longer entice her. I’m beginning to think M&M’s aren’t a big draw either but she just turned two so we’re not worried yet. I could totally see making it a target sport as incentive, but I’ll have to think how to make that work for her. It would be a lot more fun for me, too!

  2. sfkeefer

    Hahaha, she does run a tight ship! You have my serious respect for being able to set any boundaries with her, I tend to get steamrolled unless I can distract her fast enough. Good luck with the M&Ms.


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