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Book Review: Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

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Book Review

We recently attended our annual company retreat and each year we choose a different book to read to reflect on with the team. Celebrating our fifth year in business and being all females, we wanted to choose a book that not only would make for great discussion, but also one that focused on what we believe in at the core: encouraging women to achieve their goals with confidence. We immediately knew that Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In was the perfect choice.

One of the ways that the Lean In initiative drives engagement is asking women about their very own lean in experiences. As I read through the stories, I feel motivated and excited about what the movement is doing for women in the workplace (and in their personal lives) all around the world. It made me want to share a little bit of our own Lean In story here at Red Shoes PR:

Woman-owned. Midwest Start-up. All female business. These are only a few of the reasons that make the employees of Red Shoes PR encourage each other to lean in every day. And while it starts with ourselves in the office, it quickly reaches beyond to leaning in with our clients, our business partners, the boards and committees we sit on, our significant others, at home and more.

At Red Shoes PR, we are a group of seven women from ages 22 to 55. Some of us have just graduated college and some of us have been “seasoned” in our careers for years. From having babies to grandkids to just hearing those wedding bells, we are constantly pushing each other to step up, lean in and take on the daily challenges of life. Both professionally and personally we strive to hold each other accountable to stick to our goals. We make it a priority to change our own conversation to be that of ‘what holds us back?’ to ‘what can we do to change about it?’ in our very own business and community.

So what has been our biggest reward from leaning in? To start, there are countless ways that we, from the founder/president to our newest employee, have worked to build a business based on the following cornerstones: work hard, be the best and have fun. I guess you can also say we have the biggest support network when we walk through the doors each day. We all have different goals and aspirations, but together, we are all women. And we are all working together to reach the common goal and at the same time building each other up.

We had a great discussion during our retreat about the different chapters of the book and how they related to each of us in our own personal and professional lives. No matter what life stage you are in, it provided great content and advice for what you experience – or may soon experience in trying to balance all that is thrown at us in life.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes/themes:

  • Don’t just stick to your job description. Ask your company: What is your biggest problem and how can I solve it?
  • Careers do not need to be mapped out from the start. Create your own map as you go along
  • We need to always be refreshing new skills – teaching ourselves new things. We need to shift from thinking “I’m not ready to do that” to thinking “I want to do that and I’ll learn by doing it”
  • The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any
  • Authentic communication is not always easy, but it is the basis for successful relationships at home and real effectiveness at work. Yet, people constantly back away from honesty to protect themselves and others.
  • Done is better than perfect. Let go of unattainable standards. Aiming for perfection causes frustration at best and a paralysis at worst
  • Don’t leave before you leave

What’s your “lean in” story?

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