Sheryl Sandberg on Executive Leadership and her Option B

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Who is Sheryl Sandberg? She is Facebook’s chief operating officer since 2008 and has helped make the popular site successful. Former VP of Google where she was in charge of developing online ad programs. One of the nation’s most influential female executives, she has criticized President Donald Trump’s travel ban and anti-abortion measures according to Forbes. Her net worth is at $1.6 billion. World renowned for her executive leadership skills and management skills. A bestselling author, she wrote Lean In and Option B.

On being a woman and success

The 44-year-old previously worked at the World Bank as a research assistant to the chief economist before joining Google and then Facebook. She complained that she could not find a man who had been asked about his parenting arrangements especially since she was always asked how she balances home life and work life. The Guardian interviewed her and she explained: “Men aren’t asked: ‘How do you do that? How do you do this? Do you have nannies? Do you have a cook?’ My husband has never been asked. I am asked that all the time.”

Sheryl gained more popularity and acclaim through her book Lean In, which encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto based on the synopsis. In the book, she provides advice for women in business; how to negotiate, how to mentor, how to build a satisfying career. She advocates having more females in leadership in business and for women to continue developing leadership skills. Lean In is known to be a call to action or a blueprint for female individual growth and empowerment.

When tragedy strikes

On May 1, 2015 Sheryl’s world collapsed with the death of her husband, Dave Goldberg. Dave, CEO of SurveyMonkey, had an accident while exercising on the day of a close friend’s birthday. It was based on this experience that Sheryl undertook another writing project and nonprofit called Option B. Her newest book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, is a primer for those who are bereaved, to help them recover and find happiness describes Time. She wants to help grieving people push forward and bounce back from heartache and loss.

Her heartache was clearly evidenced by a lost and heartfelt post on Facebook a month after Dave passed away.  “I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice,” she wrote. “You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning. These past 30 days, I have spent many of my moments lost in that void.” But that post also included some helpful tips in reaching out to grieving individuals like not telling them everything will be OK and asking them how they feel today.

Learning to push forward

What Sandberg learned, with the help of co-author and friend Adam Grant, was that there are three myths people cling to that make it harder to recover.

  • They are somehow responsible for what happened to them.
  • Their sadness must consume their life.
  • They will never feel any better.

Sheryl says these mistakes are thinking about adversity as personal, pervasive and permanent (the 3 P’s). She claims that anyone can overcome them with the correct mindset and support system.

She came up with the name Option B after a curious event that happened a few weeks after Dave died. There was a father-child event at her kid’s school and Phil Deutch proposed standing in for Dave. Sheryl refused at first but agreed after Phil stated “Option A is not available, so let’s just kick the shit out of Option B.” Sheryl has faced adversity, developed resilience and found some joy and believes that if she can do it, so can anyone.

Harvard Business Review asked her if she considers herself a good role model and she answered: “I’m incredibly fortunate, and I have had amazing opportunities and mentors and support. But the struggles I write about are the ones all women face: the struggle to believe in yourself, to not feel guilty, to get enough sleep, to believe that you can be both a good professional and a good parent.”








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