Sheryl Sandberg doesn’t want to be a role model; but as a woman who is naturally brilliant, self-confident, well-educated, perpetually organized, newly published, and seemingly always in the right place at the right time, Sheryl Sandberg just can’t avoid it.
You all might know her story, but it’s worth hearing again. After graduating from Harvard where she earned her first degree in economics, Sandberg did a stint at the World Bank. She then obtained her second Harvard diploma, this time a M.B.A., and took a turn in politics as the Chief of Staff for The United States Department of Treasury, serving under then Secretary, Larry Summers (also her former thesis advisor and mentor). In 2001, she moved on to Silicon Valley to fill the role of Vice President of Global Online Sales & Operations for Google. That is, until the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, met her and convinced her to join his crew as Chief Operating Officer in 2008. This year she published her biography, Lean In.
“She’s unique in that she has an extremely high IQ and EQ (Emotional Quotient),” brags Zuckerberg, “and it’s just really rare to get that in any single person.” Having these unique talents poses Sandberg perfectly to fulfill what James Brown knew long ago, “this is a man’s world, but it wouldn’t be nothing without a woman or a girl.”
And she’s not alone. In 2011, Sandberg saddled up with the likes of Hillary Clinton on the top of Forbes’ list when named the fifth most powerful woman in the world. She proudly calls fellow trailblazer, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, a friend. She’s humble enough in her fame to recognize that while she is listed higher in Forbes than Michelle Obama, she certainly doesn’t think she’s as powerful.
Which brings us back to the reason Sandberg rejects being a role model. Critics proclaim that Sandberg has too much on her side, including the support of a happy home, extra care for her children, her position at the top, and her enormous wealth, while the rest of us might not be as lucky. They maybe right to some degree, but, ultimately, that is not the message she wants to sell in her book Lean In, nor the way she leads her life. Sandberg doesn’t expect women to follow in her footsteps to the top, she just hopes we know that we can.
Thanks to NPR.org, Time Magazine, and The Business Insider, and pusuist.com for images and quotes.