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3.0 out of 5 stars A manifesto on working for (and not becoming) the next Mark Zuckerberg, April 23, 2013
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This review is from: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (Hardcover)
I am a long-time admirer of Sandberg, especially after her inspiring TED talk. But there was one topic so blatantly omitted from "Lean In" that I almost thought the book hadn't downloaded completely: women entrepreneurs. There is not a single full sentence, let alone paragraph or chapter, devoted to this mushrooming class of women who have decided to take control of their own fate, instead of joining in the Sisyphean task of changing power dynamics from the inside out that Sandberg advocates. Elementary buzz words (from Sandberg's own industry no less) like "innovation," "invention," "entrepreneurship" and "disruption" are virtually non-existent, nevermind promoted. Instead, the book is focused on increasing women in positions of power in "governments, corporations, academia, hospitals, law firms, non-profits...[and] research labs." That about sums up Sandberg's scope. "Lean In" reads like an instruction manual on how to run on a hamster wheel of corporate or traditionally defined success when, ironically, she leads a company founded on the exact opposite of these ideals by a visionary college dropout who wanted to upend the world order (for better or worse). Her book is written squarely for women (like her) who possess the admirable patience and perseverance to log decades working for men like Mark Zuckerberg, and, perplexingly, not a call to arms for women to become the next Mark Zuckerberg.

With the power of technology, innovation, and education, the model she advances is becoming- and arguably has become- obsolete. Her approach already feels outdated and it's hard to see how "Lean In" will inspire a revolution. Her call to arms seems to be, "hang on to the jungle gym bars and and claw your way towards something that resembles 'power' so we can claim victory when the face of 'power' looks more equal." To my mind, increased power and victory for women will not come solely from playing nice within existing empires, but from building empires of their own.

Every role model I have has "taken the off ramp" (in some cases quite early) and, through ingenuity and grit, created her own highway. They haven't had to elbow for a seat at the Old Boys Club table. They've built their own damn table.

For well-educated women entrenched in and committed to transforming behemoth institutions: "Lean In" is the roadmap for you. Godspeed. But for creative, enterprising, scrappy, imaginative, restless, optimistic women of every stripe eager to carve out a fulfilling career look elsewhere. Swiss Miss/Tina Roth-Eisenberg's list of over 300 women entrepreneurs is a good place to start. They aren't leaning in. They are leading the way.
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Tracked by 9 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 31 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 23, 2013 10:21:49 AM PDT
I loved your review. It's odd, because I wrote a five star review of the book you can read on the front page, and I stand by that review, because it's a review of the book she was able to write. She's not an entrepreneur, and since it's written in a memoir format, it really wouldn't make sense for her to write that book.

You write well, I wish YOU would write that book, I would love to read it. I've worked for giant companies in publishing and show business, (though publishing doesn't really count because all book writers are entrepreneurs in a sense). I've worked for many studios as a writer, actor, producer but am currently taking a huge risk having written, directed and produced a feature film I'm also in, on the lowest possible budget where you can hire union talent. It's terrifying, but it's my attempt to be Mark Zuckerberg in Hollywood, where women's stories go unheard because everyone is chasing a young male, comic book loving demographic. It's the risk of my life. I'm leaning in like a mime in a fake wind.

I wish you would write the book where you interview some of those 300 women, and others who are on their way there, so I have some role models for what I'm doing. I'll even pitch you a title: "Leaning Further In: How to BE Mark Zuckerberg Instead of Working For Him".

Seriously, go write that book. I need it.

Posted on Apr 23, 2013 2:37:49 PM PDT
A. Calderaio says:
fantastic insight, don't give up

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 24, 2013 2:45:21 AM PDT
m.z. says:
Thanks for your thoughts, Cathryn. I think I'm going to adopt "I'm leaning in like a mime in a fake wind" as my life's motto. I yelped with laughter.

The book may read like a memoir, but it is being pitched as a manifesto. I take your point that she wrote the book she was able to write. But that still doesn't excuse her from apparently not learning (or conveying) any values of entrepreneurship from the many entrepreneurial men she's worked for. The level of change she's aiming for is "create a parking space for the pregnant woman," and not "build a company that owns the parking lot." I understand her experience is implementing change at the former level, but it seems like a gigantic, irresponsible missed opportunity not to present the latter as another option for women's empowerment. The omission undermines her credibility because one way of interpreting it is she doesn't know any of these models (or which there are many, just on a smaller scale than corporate America); doesn't see the value; or doesn't believe women should or can aim this high. Her world is a place where we need more women managers, not more women makers (like me and you).

Here's to taking the big risks, as you are doing. I don't think I'll be writing that book anytime soon. But I hope one of the many female Mark Zuckerbergs will.

Posted on Jul 6, 2013 12:18:09 PM PDT
debi says:
m.z.--You are an awfully good writer, and I don't say that often!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2013 1:14:25 PM PDT
Hi Cathryn--

I'm writing that book right now!

I'd love to talk to you. Grace

Posted on Jul 13, 2013 6:59:19 AM PDT
Kenster says:
This is the kind of review that makes reviews worth reading.. just exceptional! I am a dad, have had talks with my girls about thinking 'outside of the box'. I am surprised at the amount of young people that do not understand how easy it is to create ('birth' to be more exact) a business in America.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 13, 2013 8:14:40 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 13, 2013 8:16:15 AM PDT
Grace, why don't you friend me, Cathryn Michon, on Facebook, how's that for a little irony? Mention this conversation in your friend request if you would be so kind. My profile pic is blonde me holding my blonde puppy Tucker,one of the stars of the film I just directed! p.s. this note will come up as being from my husband, W. Bruce Cameron because I am on his ipad at the moment...:)

Posted on Jul 20, 2013 4:27:58 PM PDT
K. Mcgowan says:
Another thought is the woman with a track record in the "good ole boys club" who then hits the ceiling with age discrimination. Even though planning to continue working til the brain gives way to the grave, because that's the way it is...

Posted on Jul 24, 2013 9:43:11 PM PDT
Michael says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jul 30, 2013 11:19:41 PM PDT
Mary C. says:
Excellent review. Very well written and right to the point.
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