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!



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