Tuesday, March 12

Lean In

I'm not sure that I've ever seen more hype around a business book before ... well, a business book that's much more than a business book.  It's a social commentary on women in the workforce that's gotten much bigger than just a book.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.

She's been on the PR circuit, promoting her book, community, and ... well, movement ... for weeks now, in anticipation of the book's release.  Of course I first heard about it the "marketing way," through word-of-mouth with someone I ran into on the way to Starbucks!

I will say that I have not read the book yet, but from what I can tell while it's highly controversial, it's also heavily researched.  It certainly has sparked a lot of conversations about the gender gap.

Now I'm not necessarily going to play into the debate, because honestly I don't know the facts.  I will say that I have worked with and for women throughout my entire career, starting out with my very first job at JCPenney right through to my current post at Cohn & Wolfe as well as with my book publisher and the folks at NYU.  I personally have not seen any of the drama exhibited, but that is likely due to the industry that I operate within.

But Sheryl makes a couple of really good points.

First of all, it's not that men are over confident ... it's just that women need to be just as confident.  Self esteem is a good thing, in the workplace and at home.  Every one should have equal parts of it.  We have all seen lots of people, men and women of all ages, who could benefit from some confidence.  It's something I try to instill in both of my kids.

Secondly, let's get rid of theses stereotypes and let's stop perpetuating them.  I couldn't agree more.  Years ago I was very vocal about "take your daughter to work day," because I honestly couldn't understand why we would teach our kids that there's a difference between brothers and sisters when it comes to Mom & Dad's work.  It's just planting the seed in their minds at a young age that the girls have to try harder.  The more we stop the stereotyping, then the more the stereotyping will go away.

I'm looking forward to reading the book, not because of the controversy or because of all the facts and figures ... but because Sheryl has done more than just write a book, she has started a community and I want to find out what it's all about.  I think that's pretty cool.

What's your experience?  Jim

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU


  1. I had not heard of this book but now I am intrigued. Can't wait to pick it up. Love the fact that Sheryl started a community and I want to also know more about it!

  2. Love that the topic is being addressed, but disappointed that the conversation is limited to mothers/parents. Singles and/or couples who do not have children also have struggles balancing work with personal responsibilities. Granted, children present a unique set of circumstances, but that shouldn't mean that other people aren't afforded the same courtesies to manage their lives. I've yet to see one interview or conversation that has acknowledged this. I'm sure people with children outnumber people without, but it doesn't change the fact that everyone makes choices and we all have only 24 hours in a day. "Leaning in" should be more inclusive.

  3. True enough ... "Lean In" should be inspiration for ALL of us, regardless. Isn't that the point, actually. As a single Dad for many many years, I'd like some consideration too. Not because I'm a Dad or a man or anything, but just because like everyone else I am juggling. JIM.