Smart is The New Skinny: Lean In Takeaways

Friday, October 25, 2013

I have been wanting to start a new series for a long time but one that would provide advice and encouragement to whoever stumbled upon this blog.  It is safe to say that now that I am in my very late twenties (Lord, have mercy) my interests have changed.  As I keep growing financially and professionally, I've naturally become more interested in LEARNING.  Adding value to my life, even if by reading a short article, has now become more of a priority. I think a big part of being a successful woman is constantly feeding your brain and finding inspiration from people to look up to.  And let's face it, smart is sexy.

So, moving forward I will be posting about what inspires me to become a better version of myself and, hopefully, you can find a little inspiration along the way too.


My very successful friend (Wharton-grad, marathon runner, world traveler and finance maverick, to name a few) recently sent an email with a list of takeaways from Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, who is non other than the COO of Facebook.   The email read:

A few words from my friend, Sheryl….

For all of us:
-Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.

-When I don’t feel confident, one tactic I’ve learned is that it sometimes helps to fake it. Research backs up this "fake it til you make it" strategy. One study found that when people assumed a high-power pose (for example, taking up space by spreading their limbs) for just two minutes, their dominance hormone levels (testosterone) went up and their stress hormone levels (cortisol) went down. As a result, they felt more powerful and showed a greater tolerance for risk.  A simple change in posture can lead to a significant change in attitude.

-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.

-I recommend adopting two concurrent goals- a long term dream and an eighteen-month plan.
  -A long term dream does not have to be realistic or even specific. It may reflect the desire to work in a particular field or to travel throughout the world.
-Typically, my eighteen month plan sets goals on two fronts. First and foremost, I set targets for what my team can accomplish. Second, I try to set more personal goals for learning new skills in the next eighteen months. It's often painful, but I ask myself, "How can I improve? If I am afraid to do something, it is usually because I am not good at it or perhaps am too scared to even try.

-The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any. Do not wait for power to be offered. 

-Done is better than perfect. Aiming for perfection causes frustration at best and paralysis at worst.

For the girls:

-One reason women avoid stretch assignments and new challenges is because they worry too much about whether they currently have the skills they need for a new role. 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 negotiating, "Think personally, act globally." I have advised many women to preface negotiations by explaining that they know that women often get paid less than men so they are going to negotiate rather than accept the original offer.

-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. 

-Men need to support women and, I wish it went without saying, women need to support women too.

For the boys:

-Men of all ages must commit to changing the leadership ratios. They can start by actively seeking out qualified candidates to hire and promote. And if qualified candidates cannot be found, then we need to invest in more recruiting, mentoring, and sponsoring so women can get the necessary experience. 

-As more women lean into their careers, more men need to lean into their families. We need to encourage men to be more ambitious in their homes.
Research over the last forty years has consistently found that in comparison to children with less-involved fathers, children with involved and loving fathers have higher levels of psychological well-being and better cognitive abilities.

Definitely adding this book to my cue.
Happy Friday. xo

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