The Cheater’s Guide to Leaning In


Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has been getting a lot of press for her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Some people love her and her book, and others… not so much.

What is she saying that’s causing such heated debate? And where do YOU stand?

Obviously the best way to learn about Sandberg’s perspective and become an informed participant in the debate is to actually sit down and read her book.

But, the fact of the matter is that the book is 240 pages long. It’s no War and Peace, for sure, but it will take you several dedicated hours (and $13.72, plus shipping and handling if you order it from Amazon) to get through it. If you’re like me and you enjoy taking books out from the library (yes, I know I’m old-school that way), it’ll likely be months until you can get your hands on a copy.

But don’t despair!

I’ve compiled the cheater’s list so you can get as much info as you’d like within a limited amount of time.

Bonus: All these resources are totally free!

If you have 5 minutes:

You can actually do something revolutionary in the least amount of time—start to read the book itself! Visit Lean In’s Amazon page and use the “Look inside this book” function to read the introduction. Tip: This is an excellent way of combatting those haters who say, “but you haven’t even cracked the book open.”

Another easy-peasy way to determine your stance is to go straight to LeanIn.org, the page that Sandberg has created to help encourage people to get involved in the Lean In movement. You can start your own Lean In circle with peers and coworkers, read inspirational blog posts by people like Alicia Keys and Condoleeza Rice, and get advice on how to succeed in your career.

If you have 15 minutes:

Sandberg’s TED talk, “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders” is a great introduction to the issues that are most important to her. She does a great job of using both statistics and examples from her personal life to make her points. It was actually way back in 2010 when she gave this talk, but many of the points are central to her book and the talks she’s been giving more recently.

Or, watch Sandberg’s appearance on The Daily Show, Part 1 and Part 2. She covers a lot of the same points from the other talks, but in a more conversational style since she’s chatting with Jon Stewart. It’s also kinda crazy to see how he reacts to some of the things she’s saying. Obviously some of it is for comedic effect, but he does seem to be a little freaked out at times. Watch it and let me know if you agree!

If you have 30 minutes:

This Comment is Free piece from The Guardian surveys women from a range of ages and careers about whether they find Sandberg’s advice useful and whether or not the Lean In movement is likely to take off.

Nisha Chittal is a contributor to the piece in The Guardian and she’s also written about Lean In for Ms. Magazine and The Huffington Post. Check out her website for a few short articles to round out your half hour of research/reading time.

If you have one hour:

Watch Sandberg’s Office Hours presentation and Q&A session for Levo League, where she breaks down the ambition gap, talks about some of her successes and failures, and provides some shocking stats about women in leadership roles.

Then, if you’d like to read an interesting critique of Sandberg’s standpoint, check out this Dissent Magazine article by Kate Losse, a former Facebook employee who offers a unique perspective as someone who has actually worked with Sandberg and CEO Mark Zuckerberg: “Feminism’s Tipping Point: Who Wins from Leaning In?

Extra credit:

Part of the whole debate surrounding Sheryl Sandberg and Lean In is the fact that the media loves to talk about women and work/life balance, women having it all, working mothers, yada yada. On the one hand, it’s important for us to talk about these issues if we ever hope to change the status quo, but it can be really annoying when something is considered “newsworthy” just because it involves a career-oriented woman. If all this heavy stuff is getting you down, check out the #EdgyHeadlines meme.

Now it’s your turn to weigh in! Have you read Lean In? If so, what were the main points you took away from it? If not, what other resources do you recommend to someone who’d like to bluff their way through a conversation about it?

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One Response to “The Cheater’s Guide to Leaning In”

  1. On Our Bookshelf: Lean In For Graduates - AfterCollege

    […] When I started reading, I realized that Sandberg had not changed the original Lean In to be specifically targeted toward recent graduates. Instead, she had left it as it was and added in additional stories and chapters for those who are graduating. (For a bit more on the original Lean In, check out our post, “The Cheater’s Guide to Leaning In.”) […]

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