Lean In…And Be Surprised


On my way home from Southampton yesterday, I picked up the London Metro Newspaper. As a long time London Underground user I have a special fondness for the Metro, and I generally enjoy it as a lightly-informative entertaining read/skim. When I find an article I like, as I do with any newspaper (rarely magazines, I like to treasure their glossy wholesomeness), I tear it out and stick it in my notebook. Yesterday I tore out a short article on Carolyn Evereson, the Global Advertising Chief of Facebook.

The article ‘Facebook’s other first lady’ talked a lot about the new book by Sheryl Sandberg, who is Everson’s colleague at Facebook. She gave her opinion on the book: “I think there was a need to write the book…I do think many of the issues out there are people issues not just female issues”.

Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg

I would like to say at this point, I have not read the book.

At home, more or less an hour ago, I googled Sheryl Sandberg out of interest. I was astonished by the amount of overly-harsh criticism. I don’t think criticism a bad thing: balance of opinion is always important (history student, hey), but a lot of the commentaries seemed over-the-top to me. An example would be in the comments of any article discussing the book. Google away my friends.

As a young woman, a student, and someone who aspires to one day be successful in the workplace – not unlike Sandberg and Everson, I think the grating, personal judgement of the book – often by other women – very counter-intuitive.

My reasons for this thinking are as follows: lot of criticism seems to be triggered by the fact that  her background was ‘privileged.’ I find this offensive. At no point as a zygote, or fetus, does one have the chance to choose the place of birth. That’s just the way it is (don’t want to enter a religious argument here, let us stick to one debate at a time). It’s not about what or where you are born into, it’s what you do with it. You can be born into all the riches and open-doors in the world, yet make an ass of yourself and squander. You can be born as a relatively average child in Pakistan, stand up to the Taliban, get shot in the head as a result, and now go to school in Birmingham. On these grounds, I feel the anger at Sandberg and her background, is irrelevant. Her achievements should be celebrated and passed on as an example to people like me. As for the quality of her book, I’ll leave that to The Edge.


History student with Mandarin on the side. Spent a year in China and a semester in Spain, plan to go back to China again after graduation. Opinion Editor at the Wessex Scene for two years.

Discussion2 Comments

  1. avatar

    Hello Isabella, nice article! In my opinion, ‘Lean In’ suggests that we should take a chance on ourselves and perhaps take risks in order to progress our careers or better our personal lives. Sometimes we may hold back and stay comfortable. By adopting the ‘lean in’ philosophy one can discover their full potential and gain confidence.

    My Dad recommended this book to me, and after reading your article I shall have to take a read!

    Isabella Hunter-Fajardo

    Sorry for some reason I’ve just seen this comment. Let me know how the book goes! I think I’m gonna get stuck into it during the summer, I’ve read more about it since writing this, it does actually sound really great and practical. I agree with you ‘lean in’ philosophy, it’s something I intend to adopt.

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