The 12 things I learned from “Lean In” and the Discussion Guide


This is what I learned in each chapter. Since I couldn’t possibly do the book justice; I implore you to read it.

  1. Don’t judge a book by its author - The first and foremost thing I learned from Lean In was to not judge a book by its author. I fell into the trap like so many others lambasting Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg for writing a book about challenges she couldn’t possibly understand. My initial objective in reading the book was to be able to criticize from a position of knowledge.  I couldn’t have been more wrong. Immediately I was absorbed into a funny, witty, very personal account of what read as easily to me as would my own story. The Lean In concept consumed me. I was thrilled to know that I had been leaning in for quite some time, but… there was so much more that I could do and with so much more finesse.  I’m sharing with you my personal take aways from the Lean In experience while wishing you your own experience with this transformational book.
  2. Chapter 1 – What would I do if I weren’t afraid? I’d work for me and simultaneously start a technology company…in progress! I learned that I don’t have to be  afraid nor embarrassed by my fear.
  3. Chapter 2 - How am I going to sit at the table? Rather than waiting patiently to be appointed to more Boards, I’m going to seek out Board appointments. Truthfully it is scary to say but I’ve also learned to be more emboldened and not hide from by what I really truly want; success.
  4. Chapter 3 - How am I going to be successful and liked?  The first ground breaker for me was just understanding why I wasn’t as liked as much as I wanted to be, and then discovering that with some careful thought and positioning, I could soften while not diluting my delivery of opinions, recommendations or decisions.   My most valuable takeaway from the book came here; I learned how to negotiate well without giving up too much ground (what I normally do) and without risking the relationship (what I normally fear).
  5. Chapter 4 – It IS a jungle gym not a ladder! I’ve realized that it’s ok for my path to the corner office to meander. I won’t shy away from opportunities or challenges that are parallel or even downward if ultimately I can see them leading to rapid advancement.
  6. Chapter 5 - Who are my mentors? While I’m not great at asking for help, I have a handful of friends, male and female, who I go to for help on an on-going basis whether it’s a new idea or a “how to” execution question.  I learned that those are my mentors, how to seek more, and the best way to engage them.
  7. Chapter 6 - My truth… I need to learn about gentle delivery, especially when I’m upset.
  8. Chapter 7 – About leaving before I leave.  Another challenge for me, I’m moving and every decision I’ve made in the last year has been around the move rather than just making the best decisions.  I don’t do well with uncertainty so this one will have to be a work in progress for me.
  9. Chapter 8 – Having a real partner. I’m lucky, I’ve won the partner lottery, he’s fair and simply an amazing source of love and support. The sad part is I didn’t expect of him the shared responsibility that he automatically assumed. I didn’t realize it was what I should have expected, that’s why I count myself so lucky that it was a conclusion that he came to on his own.
  10. Chapter 9 - Doing it all…Secretly I like being thought of as “How does she do it” so I bake the cookies and then work all night. I think what I learned here is when my efforts miss the mark I don’t have to emotionally flog myself; it is what it is.
  11. Chapter 10 – Talk about it! If we’re ever going to shift the gender bias we have to acknowledge it exists and take baby steps as well as leaps in order to over come it.  I learned that I shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it, it’s not imaginary it’s real.
  12. Chapter 11 - Working together… I love working with women, they’re tremendously hardworking and dedicated. What I don’t like is the perception some men have that women can’t work well together. My lesson was to stamp out that kind of nonsense when I hear it, and gently nudge women I see that aren’t supporting their counterparts.

That’s what I learned.

Here are the discussion guides, Lean In!



Social Media Cheat Sheet


What we can learn about Customer Service from the Harlem Shake Phenomenon!

What can we learn from 32 seconds of a viral video about excellence in customer service delivery.


Original Harlem Shake

In two weeks, an obscure group of teenagers and a song released last year went from 0 – 175 Million views on Youtube. The video was released on February 2nd by five teenagers from Queensland, Australia. The teenagers danced to “Harlem Shake” by electronic musician Baauer which has since  inspired tens of thousands of copy cat videos, over 40,000 in the first 2 weeks. Baauer’s single reached #1 on the iTunes America chart and #2 on iTunes in the UK and Australia by February 15, 2013.

Three distinct aspects

  • Part 1 - Usually, a “Harlem Shake” video begins with one person (often helmeted or masked) dancing to the song alone for 15 seconds, surrounded by other people not paying attention or unaware of the person dancing.
  • Part 2 - The bass drops and the video cuts to the entire crowd doing a crazy convulsive dance for the next 15 seconds, there’s a slow down, but then everyone continues.
  • Part 3 - As the video progresses everyone is wildly and passionately doing their own dance but all with the music, creating a single scene. Typically people wield strange props while doing the dance.


What does this have to do with Excellent Customer Service and how are the two similar?

Customer Service Definition:  Customer service is the provision of service to customers (internal and external) before, during and after a purchase. It’s how you treat people; everyone you meet is a potential customer.

Harlem Shake – starts with one nameless faceless person, just doing their thing having a good time and … no one notices. Excellent Customer Service starts the same way, normally it’s just one nameless faceless person that starts the revolution and yes typically everyone else is oblivious. Even if no one notices, commit to delivering the best customer service experience anyway. Deliver out of passion. A passion for customers and a passion for what you do.

Lesson One: Deliver your customer service passionately as though no one is watching.

Then the beat drops and… other people finally see what’s happening catch the groove and start to participate. If you’re the innovator and you deliver excellent service, eventually everyone else will catch on.  Even if the momentum slows, worry not, things will pick up, just keep doing your best.  If you’re not the innovator, but you see the momentum around you, join in.

Lesson Two: Participate in what’s taking place in your organization, allow yourself to get caught up in the transformation that’s taking place.

Finally a truly uninhibited group of individuals dances wildly usually with odd props, but creating one cohesive scene. Once everyone is involved and uninhibited everyone has to be empowered to deliver their own brand of customer service under an overarching guideline which is the organization’s customer service policy.

Lesson Three:  Feel empowered to deliver your brand of customer service, depending on your role. Take your customer service viral.

And the props you’ll need….

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 4.54.10 PM

  1. A Ring (engagement ring) to remember to engage your customers, really understand what they want, be the conversation starter.
  2. Eye glasses to make sure to maintain eye contact, they’ll know that you’re sincere.
  3. Headphones to plug into them and actively listen to their wants, needs and objectives.
  4. Deodorant so that you can be up close and personal, be personable and sincere so that they want to do business with you.
  5. A tooth brush to remind you to always smile.
  6. Keys as in keys to something you own, take ownership of your customer relationship, take ownership of anything that is handed to you to execute on.
  7. A ball to remind you to not drop the ball, when something is given to you, don’t drop it and if you’re giving something to someone else to do, make sure to confirm that they’ve got it before you let it go.
  8. A copy of the book Great Expectations to remind you to set a great expectation then exceed it.
  9. Proactiv Acne Cream to remind you to be proactive, learn your customers patterns so that you can anticipate their needs.
  10. A hammer that reminds you that when there’s an issue, just fix it, don’t run, don’t hide, just fix it.
  11. A mirror to remind you to treat customers the way you’d like to be treated, if you act as though you’re always serving the ultimate customer, you, your delivery will be impeccable.
  12. A watch to remind you to set the time expectation, if you’re committing to an activity set a deadline and stick to it. If you can’t stick to the deadline, then follow up before the deadline. Follow up with them before they have to check back with you, they’ll know you haven’t forgotten.
  13. A Bible to remind you to be trustworthy and honest.  Every interaction with your customer should be as though you’re under oath.
  14. A Spoon & Bowl to remind you to prepare as you would prepare food, put all the ingredients together and don’t be afraid to mix things up. For every customer interaction prepare, look at the industry, do your research, so that you’re in the best position to deliver.


Why? – Because your life and livelihood depends on it.  With the economy the way that it is, excellence in customer service has to be one of many defining characteristics of your business.  The companies that survived the great depression were the ones that out innovated, out planned and out served their competition.  Deliver like your company, your family, your life depends on it, because in these trying times, they do.

My personal favorite Harlem Shake version so far enjoy!

What you can do about Jamaica’s failing education system


There are certain things that are always true.  

15 years ago as I sat in church with my then 2 year old daughter, I worried about money the way I always do.  The pastor said take out your cheque books. Reluctantly I took mine out. He said thumb through it, look for the biggest cheque that you’ve written this month I found it. He said “That is the thing that is most important to you, whether it’s your home, your car or something else.  If it isn’t you need to reconcile that, but realize that you speak with your money.” My biggest cheque was my daughter’s daycare/education, it was more than my mortgage, and I was fine with that. It helped me gain some clarity about my own purpose and about being on the right path. He was right, it is true, you spend your money on what you believe is important.

Education is changing  

If I told you I had an apple, your first thought would probably be that I meant technology by mac and not an apple from a tree.  A red apple used to be the symbol of Education, but technology is changing the dynamics of education.  And if we’re not in a position to move forward with the wave of change we’ll be left behind. The technology apple is now the new symbol of education.

The reality of our situation  

The reality of the situation is that less than 20% of our students pass CXC, CXC is the standard by which we judge performance and ability to be admitted to university or get a job. The Jamaican Government figures indicate that 40% of students pass CXC, which is bad enough.  What happens to the other 60%, but the reality is even more dire.  That 40% is 40% of only  half of the students that entered high school.  The other half elected not to take the exam,  they knew they wouldn’t pass. (source:  So what do we do?


The truth is, Jamaican kids are very bright, you need only interact with them to know they’re brimming with potential and not just the Campionites, but the holy childhoods the Andrews the  Priory all of them.  Unfortunately being bright doesn’t guarantee  access to learning resources or the education that you would need in order to be able to compete with the world’s best.  If we’re thinking about the world, let’s start with how we compare regionally.


Primary Education – In the region Trinidad spends 15% of GDP, Jamaica 20% and Barbados 23%, however what that translates into Jamaica 1.3K, Trinidad 2.5K and Barbados 3.6K per person.  (source 2010)  The answer can’t be to ask the Jamaican Government to spend a greater portion of GDP on Education. Unfortunately  the pie we have is already very small and shrinking, the percentage is right in the middle, but Jamaica’s GDP is low, and Education is a simpler issue to manage than GDP/productivity at the moment.

So what’s the answer? 

The answer is for the private sector to assist in bridging the gap to assist educators in doing more for less.  By employing a flipped classroom model we can at least provide greater access to parents and children to materials when they need it so that at any point in the process where there is a breakdown there is also a failsafe.  Jamaica Education Television, is such an initiative, it is a public private partnership with the ministry of education. The objective is to outfit schools with televisions, and broadcast the best educational material into those classrooms while making it available to over 600K households on a cable channel and on demand. Children get access to the best content, and use classroom time for more interaction with the teacher after having heard the lecture at home.  If we don’t address it now it will not continue to get better if we ignore it,  the quality of education available in Jamaica will only spiral downwards.

Flow and Burger King are fully on board….where’s your cheque book?