The Wisdom of Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg

Ken Auletta profiles Facebook's COO for the 'New Yorker'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2011 3:39 PM CDT

(Newser) – You'd be some kind of fool not take career advice from Sheryl Sandberg, a Harvard grad who worked as Larry Summers' chief of staff before moving on to Google and Facebook. Ken Auletta profiles the social network's COO in this week's New Yorker, and the lengthy piece circles back and back again to the reality of Silicon Valley's male-dominated culture—and the male-dominated world beyond it—examining how Sandberg managed to break into it and emerge on top, and capturing her advice for female professionals. Highlights:

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  • On working women and children: Sandberg, who is married with two children, "developed a sense that too many women at Google and elsewhere were dropping out of the workforce after becoming mothers, in part because they had not pushed to get a job they loved before they began having children," writes Auletta.
  • On the work-life balance: "The No. 1 impediment to women succeeding in the workforce is now in the home," she says. Most people assume that women are responsible for households and child care. Most couples operate that way—not all. That fundamental assumption holds women back."
  • Why Hollywood is partly to blame for the state of Silicon Valley: While playing a Star Wars game, her son told her he wanted to live in space and work as a "Star Wars person" when he grew up. Sandberg told him she'd like to come, too, and he replied, "You can't ... I’ve already invited my sister, and there’s only one girl in space." Sandberg laughed, until she realized that "there is only one woman in these movies."
  • On plotting a career path: "I always tell people if you try to connect the dots of your career, if you mess it up you’re going to wind up on a very limited path. If I decided what I was going to do in college—when there was no Internet, no Google, no Facebook ... I don’t want to make that mistake. The reason I don’t have a plan is because if I have a plan I’m limited to today’s options."
Click to read the entire piece. (Read more Sheryl Sandberg stories.)

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