Gini Dietrich

Lean In: Inspiring, Empowering, and Why You Should Read It

By: Gini Dietrich | August 29, 2013 | 
165

Lean In- Inspiring, Empowering, and Why You Should Read ItBy Gini Dietrich

Alert! Alert! Alert!

This blog post is going to make some of you angry.

I read “Lean In” and I wholeheartedly disagree with the criticism the book has received. My guess is most of the critics haven’t read the book or they wouldn’t have made the arguments they did. Which kind of sucks (like spin sucks), but I also understand we live in an age where long-form content is becoming less and less…consumed (I hate that word, but can’t think of a better one).

Content, of course, has to be written and if you can criticize a book on the topic without having to read it, I guess more power to you.

I think that is exactly what has happened. Not with all of the criticism, but with a gross majority of it.

Heidi Sullivan, the senior vice president of digital marketing for Cision, and I were talking about it last week and she said, “I felt inspired and empowered after I read it.”

I did, too. Let’s talk about why.

The Leadership Ambition Gap

The interesting thing about all the buzz you hear about the book is about the concept of how we should lean in, but the truth is, it’s only about half of one chapter.

I run a business. Most of my team are women. Some have kids. Some do not. What I have found in the eight years I’ve been running a business is women DO lean away from promotions or bigger jobs when they think they might get married or they think they might have children or they think they might stay home with kids…someday.

The concept of “leaning in” is to go after your dreams. Have the ambition to want a leadership position. Go for that promotion. Do what you want with your career until the time has come to make a different decision.

It’s a Jungle Gym

Which leads me to it’s a jungle gym, not a ladder.

Mitch Joel talks about this concept in Ctl Alt Delete, too. Many of us think we have to make a decision about the rest of our lives when we’re 18 and then we get stuck in jobs that followed our degrees and we hate our lives.

By the time you figure out what you’ve been doing for 10 or 15 or 20 years is terrible, you have responsibilities so you stick with it.

But here’s the thing, you don’t HAVE to do that. You also don’t have to shy away from a promotion or a bigger job right now because you might have a family in five years. When you think about it that way, it’s the most ridiculous and illogical thing ever. Yet, many, many women do this.

The way to where you’re going is not a straight ladder. You’re going to hustle across the jungle gym…and that’s okay!

Sit at the Table

While you’re hustling across the jungle gym, though, find a way to sit at the table.

She tells a story in the book about how, when she began a new job, she was invited to a big meeting. Because she was new to the organization and she didn’t yet know the protocol, she arrived in the conference room and took a seat in one of the extra chairs that was not at the table, but towards the back of the room in a corner.

During the meeting, she listened, she took notes, but she didn’t speak. At the end, the big, big boss asked her what she thought and she faltered a little bit, saying she didn’t yet have an opinion because she had just started.

Later, her pulled her aside and told her not only did he hire her to hear her opinions, she needed to take a seat at the actual table.

You Don’t Have to Be a Man

Sit at the actual table, spread yourself out by sticking out your elbows, and take up as much room as you can without making the person sitting next to you uncomfortable is some advice she gives when it comes to how men and women behave differently.

But she also doesn’t argue that we have to behave like men. She points out some differences and provides some insight, but overall, she supports different styles in the workplace.

It’s here where she talks about her friend, Marissa Mayer, who was taken to task in the media for taking only two weeks for maternity leave. She says,

So many people said she’s undoing women’s equality, but she’s not. If she required everyone at Yahoo! to take only two weeks for maternity, that would be undoing women’s equality. But she did what she thought was best for her, her family, and her job.

In fact, Mayer has since doubled the length of time for maternity leave and began to offer paternity leave for her employees.

The point here is women’s equality is about making the choices that are best for us. If you want to take two weeks or 12 months maternity leave, that is entirely up to you. If you want to be the CEO of a Fortune 10 company or work inside the home, that is up to you.

We have the choice and it doesn’t have to be what our male counterparts would do or what society thinks we should do.

What Was So Inspiring

But what I really, really loved about the book is this wasn’t about Sheryl Sandberg and her privileged life, like so many of the critics have proclaimed.

This was about the way women behave, the things we do in the workplace and at home, the way society thinks we should behave, and the way we treat one another.

A few additional things I thought were really interesting:

  • In 1975, our mothers who worked at home spent 11 hours per week on direct childcare (feeding, bathing, reading). Today, mothers spend 11 hours per week on direct childcare, even if we work outside of the home. But we feel guilty it isn’t enough because society now says we have to be helicopter parents – arranging playdates, spending three hours a night on homework, going to 16 different activities. What happened to, “Go outside and play?” like our mothers made us do?
  • Of the 22 women who are CEOs of major corporations, one is single, one is divorced, and 20 are married. The 20 who are married have extremely supportive spouses. The point here is “having it all” is making sure you have someone who supports you completely.
  • Women make up more than half of the world’s population, but because we often fight one another instead of working together, we don’t have nearly half the power. Can you imagine what would happen if we all worked together toward a common goal?
  • Women don’t learn how to negotiate. Either we take the first offer and don’t try for anything more or we settle for something we know won’t work. After I read that, I made a promise to myself that, every time we sign a new client, I will negotiate the contract. It’s not easy, but I keep asking myself, “What would a guy do in this situation?”
  • If women had jobs they loved, they more than likely would return to work after maternity leave. Like we talked about in What the Opt-Out Generation Means Longer Term, too many women leave their jobs because they think it’s cheaper right now to not have to pay for childcare. But what they fail to realize is they’re also losing the years of investment they made in their education and in their careers to that point, not to mention the years not working.
  • Many women (myself included) relate success to being liked. I remember when my Vistage Chair asked me a very important question. He said, “Would you rather be liked and not get your business where you want it to go or would you rather be respected and actually grow this thing?” Of course, I want to be liked, but being liked does not equate success.

Mostly what I loved about the book is I see so much of myself in many of the concepts she discusses. Yes, I took some risk and started a business. Yes, I have an intense drive. Yes, I am competitive.  Yes, I am goal-oriented.

But I also do a lot of the things so many of us do…and it’s holding me back.

It’s also holding you back.

Read the Book

Every, single woman who earns a paycheck in any form needs to read this book.

If you work from home and have a handful of clients – clients you have to negotiate rates with every so often – or you work in a Fortune 500 organization and are trying to find your way, this book is for you.

If you make your living editing or sewing or baking or watching children or writing or are practicing law or are a teacher or are a doctor or run a small business or are an entrepreneur or are on the corporate ladder on your way to the executive suite, this book is for you.

If you work inside the home and ever hire contractors to help you out, this book is for you.

This book isn’t about privilege or what some of us have that others don’t. It’s about being able to achieve anything we want. It’s about knowing when to lean in, but also when to lean out. It’s about deciding what your definition of having it all means…not what the rest of us want it to mean.

It’s about truly making the choices our mothers and grandmothers fought so hard to let us have.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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165 Comments on "Lean In: Inspiring, Empowering, and Why You Should Read It"

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CrazyPens30
CrazyPens30
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich SpinSucks Loving this post; want to read the book!

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
2 years 8 months ago

CrazyPens30 You should! I’m reading it now so don’t want to say anything until I’ve completed it.

LynetteYoung
LynetteYoung
2 years 8 months ago
I have to say, I was ‘raised’ with all men early in my career so I have natrually accquired a lot of mannerisms that would be considered masculine. When sitting at a conference table I never sit at the head seat – unless it’s my meeting, then heaven help you if you are in my seat. I choose the second seat to the right of the head – it’s the position where most would turn to while speaking but leaves me enough room to spread out. Reading that bit in the book (about always sitting AT the table) was very… Read more »
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

LynetteYoung I thought the story she told about meeting Tip O’Neill is very telling to what you’re saying here. I find that a lot too…they call me honey or sweetie or kid (that one bugs me the most) and pat my head like I”m a cute little thing they’d like as a granddaughter. Not all, but a good majority. I just smile sweetly and then kill them with my brain.

LynetteYoung
LynetteYoung
2 years 8 months ago

I’ve been known to call them ‘sweetie’ back. With a smile. Mainly because in my early 20s, with only men to use as role models, I didn’t know any different.
Now I do it just to be a pain in the backside and call then on the carpet. Granted that happens a lot less in my early 40s than it did two decades ago.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

LynetteYoung I kind of love that.

susancellura
susancellura
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich LynetteYoung I still get called “sweetheart”, by my boss who is nine years younger than me. Blerg.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

LynetteYoung Oh…and the drugs in the conference room?? OMG

LynetteYoung
LynetteYoung
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich Oh yeah. Big gorgeous glass topped coffee tables with about a pound of coke. Good times… good times… (Not for me mind you). I however did have an unlimited account to tap into petty cash and we would run through $2k a night a the bars and clubs. This was in the height of the Napster run when record companies cried they were bankrupt because of it.
I should write a book… or at least a blog post series. I’m out of NDA now.

TaraGeissinger
2 years 8 months ago

LynetteYoung ginidietrich I’d read your book or blog series! 🙂

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

TaraGeissinger LynetteYoung I would totally read that, too!

_jeneroux
_jeneroux
2 years 8 months ago

Be inspired, lean in, and ignore critics who haven’t read the book
http://t.co/pbTuUdSkHq via ginidietrich

katskrieger
2 years 8 months ago

Okay, you got me. I will read it. 🙂 Very inspired by this post. I know I have definitely held myself back a lot in the past. The new job has been a step in the right direction for me. 🙂

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

katskrieger It’s pretty interesting to read it and realize you do some of the things she talks about. I consider myself a pretty strong woman and deal mostly with men so I was shocked to find things I do that are inherently female.

Howie Goldfarb
2 years 8 months ago
I love the Taoist portion of this post about not being stuck unless we choose being stuck. I have a finance degree. I never would of thought in college that would take me to being in Arnold’s Trailer on a movie set, Missile Factories, Computer Chip Plants, Oil Refineries, Back lots of movie companies, working on life saving medical devices, and the development of hydrogen powered cars and then eventually advertising/marketing including being a Spin Sucks Crazy. That is the best part of this post.  As for the book’s criticism my issue is I don’t like Sheryl, which you know.… Read more »
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

Howie Goldfarb The book isn’t about Sheryl Sandberg, though. The book is about statistics and research and about how far (or not) we’ve come in women’s equality. It doesn’t teach you to be cutthroat. It doesn’t teach you to be anything. It only inspires you to do what YOU want to do, to make the choices YOU want to make, and to quit letting society decide your path for you.

bdorman264
2 years 8 months ago
I used to be a man….until I said ‘I do’…….. Somehow I became ‘old school’ not necessarily by choice, it just seemed to happen. 30 years with the same firm, 30 years married to a stay-at home mom. I know looking at it from this side, my wife wishes she had developed some marketable skill sets she could put to use. She would be an excellent interior designer or a CSI, but that doesn’t float her boat.  Yes, I am in a white, middle-class male dominated so the ‘women’ success stories I have seen are somewhat limited. However, my good… Read more »
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

bdorman264 I agree with you a small majority of anyone is willing to take a leadership role. Very important perspective. What this book is about is how women truly do have choices and we get to decide what’s best for us, not society or our bosses or our families.

JoeCardillo
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich bdorman264 One thing that I’ve seen in the workplace is men wonder, why don’t women speak up more, go for promotions, exert leadership, etc… 
That’s one of those less obvious things that is about the ecosystem, you can’t just point fingers and say these people should have done X or Y. Women in STEM fields, for example, have been underrepresented for so long that it’s hugely important that schools focus on opening minds and leveling the field. There’s a lot of power in seeing people that you recognize doing amazing work. 
(good recent article on continuing difficulty of that – http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130823/news/708239943/)

leaderswest
leaderswest
2 years 8 months ago

Hi Gini, I read Lean In with serious apprehension after reading through the negative reviews and I really loved this book. Of course I’m not the target audience, but I thought that the perspective that she gave of the societal and business pressures that women face in the workplace was powerful and important. And I also thought that her fearlessness to solicit and receive feedback was pretty inspiring and added a lot to the richness of her insight. Thanks for writing this – I hope it inspires more people to read the book.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

leaderswest It makes me so happy to hear you read it! Do you think a lot of the criticism was unfounded and based on the critics not actually having read the book?

JoeCardillo
2 years 8 months ago
I’ll buy the book. It does sound interesting.  I grew up appreciating strong women, and still do. There are some great people here on SS that will probably offer similar views to me, so I’ll just chime in with a small perspective from the startup corner of the world… I do see change, and it’s gratifying. It’s about 50/50 men & women where I work. I don’t know if it’s something that our co-founders explicitly thought about when they put together the company, but they seem mostly focused on getting the best people possible for each area. When my boss… Read more »
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

JoeCardillo Because of your passion on this topic, I think you’ll really appreciate the book. It’s a pretty easy read, too. She tells some great stories and supports them with facts. 
I agree with your last paragraph and think you’ll find you’re nodding your head a lot while you read.

JoeCardillo
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich JoeCardillo Great, I appreciate the recommendation and will stop being lazy and just buy it already. 
It’s funny (sad?) how men (and some women) want to skip to the part where everyone can easily relate and make decisions without history, but it’s a two step thing….acknowledge what has happened in the past, and then give people the opportunity and encouragement to be an individual and make the best decisions for their life.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

JoeCardillo Oh you mean so history doesn’t repeat itself? As if.

JoeCardillo
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich JoeCardillo Ha, yeah, I’m no Pollyanna, my definition of opportunity and encouragement includes holding peoples’ feet to the fire

AmyMccTobin
2 years 8 months ago
Thank you Gini, for a review of Lean In that’s actually worth sharing around because ‘IT’S ABOUT THE BOOK,’ not about what people THINK the book is about.  You and I have talked about this before – bravo!!!! And I loved the book – because I came up in a VERY male dominated industry, and had a brilliant mentor who didn’t even SEE gender, I learned how to ask for what I want and speak my mind early in my career. My very outspoken grandmother had already given me the foundation.  But I see these behaviors in women all the… Read more »
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

AmyMccTobin I was pretty shocked to find some of the things I do are inherently female…and not good. Things such as waffling on price when we’re negotiating with a new client. I’ve committed to myself that I will no longer do that. I know how much it costs to do things. I know we’re worth it. If prospects don’t want to pay for it, they can go find a less expensive resource. It’s hard, but the book really opened my eyes to that little flaw of mine.

AmyMccTobin
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich AmyMccTobin Yep, and what I’ve learned in sales & negotiation is that it’s like a muscle – the more you exercise it and gain muscle memory, the easier it is to pull off.    I have a fairly new rule – no more free consultations – I can speak to you by phone or email and get that ‘free’ part done – I’ve written and worked enough that there are PLENTY of references for what I do and how good I am at it. Consultations require I give you advice, and that costs money.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

AmyMccTobin GOOD! I don’t think anyone who provides a service should give their time away. You’re right…there is plenty about how you think and what you do on this thing called the Internet.

Word Ninja
2 years 8 months ago

Is it OK if I get the book from the library? Is that too non-committal? 
I recall a conversation at my three-month review with one of the old big wigs at a large non-profit. I hadn’t worked 9-5 in almost 14 years of being home with my kids and freelancing. He asked: Where do you see yourself in the next few years? Without even thinking about my answer, I said, In your chair. He busted out laughing and told me it was a good goal.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

Word Ninja HAHAHHAH! I had the same experience. I was all of 24 and the big boss asked me the same question. I answered in the same way and he hired me on the spot. It actually created some animosity among the women in the office because he hired me without talking with them first. Oh yes. That was fun.

XanPearson
XanPearson
2 years 8 months ago

Wonderful post, Gini. I loved the book. I, too, disagree with the criticism. While gender disparity does exist in the workplace, I believe women have to take some responsibility for it. We do under-negotiate and lean away. I see it all the time, and have caught myself doing it. We can have it all, and it starts with believing that.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

XanPearson And what your definition of having it all does not have to be mine (though I am envious of your job!).

vernette
2 years 8 months ago

I’ve started reading this book and I’m only just a little way in but already I can fully endorse this review! It is an execellent read and one EVERY SINGLE WOMAN should read!

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

vernette AMEN!

HeatherTweedy
2 years 8 months ago
I just finished this book last week and I can’t stop pushing it everyone that I know!  I admit that I was completely in denial about women’s issues in the workplace before reading it.  My first job was in a corporation where women outnumbered men from the director position on up.  It created a nice bubble to live in where most policies catered to helping women succeed in their framework.   Now it’s like the veil have been lifted and I can see the work that still needs to be done.  Some examples coming more recently than other. *cough, cough*… Read more »
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

HeatherTweedy I was pretty shocked to see myself in some of what she discusses. Like you, I feel like a veil has been lifted. So much so that, last night when I was walking JB, I saw the prettiest little girl I have ever seen. I was compelled to stop and tell her so and then I added, “And I’ll bet you’re really smart, too.” I wouldn’t have added that last part a month ago.

HeatherTweedy
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich That’s awesome.  When my niece was little she was told that she was pretty so much that when her parents tried to punish her she would say “I’m too pretty to get in trouble. “

KateNolan
KateNolan
2 years 8 months ago
ginidietrich HeatherTweedy About a year ago I read an article about how boys are (often) congratulated for working hard and girls are told that they’re smart, so when a girl can’t do something she assumes it’s because she’s dumb and doesn’t keep trying but the boy thinks he just needs to keep working at it. I think it’s a bit simplistic to say that’s a fact for all kids, but it does make a certain amount of sense. So, next time you can’t say a girl is smart or pretty; you’ll have to ask her her thoughts on leaning in. 😉 As… Read more »
KateNolan
KateNolan
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich HeatherTweedy Funny, I mention the article and someone happens to post it on facebook. It’s like the internet circle of life… http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-science-success/201101/the-trouble-bright-girls

hessiejones
hessiejones
2 years 8 months ago

joecardillo ginidietrich I agree Joe! Gini this is inspiring. AmyMccTobin is on my tail to read it #LeanIn

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

hessiejones Listen to Amy. AmyMccTobin

hessiejones
hessiejones
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich AmyMccTobin it’s on my list. Loving Daniel Pink’s book at the moment

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

hessiejones AmyMccTobin I loved that one, too!

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin
2 years 8 months ago

hessiejones joecardillo ginidietrich Hessie has got the ‘too nice’ syndrome down pat. I’m trying to make her more selfish 🙂

hessiejones
hessiejones
2 years 8 months ago

AmyMccTobin joecardillo ginidietrich I don’t think my husband would agree with that statement

joecardillo
joecardillo
2 years 8 months ago

AmyMccTobin hessiejones ginidietrich Women can focus on being nice after they’ve knocked some heads together.

hessiejones
hessiejones
2 years 8 months ago

joecardillo AmyMccTobin ginidietrich Joe, can we make you an honorary member of our lean-in group?:)

joecardillo
joecardillo
2 years 8 months ago

hessiejones AmyMccTobin ginidietrich Awh! That is too kind. I get so fired up about this stuff sometimes…

joecardillo
joecardillo
2 years 8 months ago

hessiejones Well ginidietrich has converted me, just bought it….now your turn… = ) AmyMccTobin

AllieRambles
2 years 8 months ago
Lean In is on my reading to do list.  And like many I have heard the negative responses to it so I pushed in further down my list. I do work from home.  And you saying that this book is for me too, I will surely place it higher on my list again.  I assumed it was for the woman who didn’t work from home. What can women do together?  Earn the right to vote, protect each other (abuse) and other great things.  These women got over the feeling of not being liked for the greater good of women (and… Read more »
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

AllieRambles I think you’ll really like it, Allie. It’s an easy read and you’ll find things in there you can do. Even though you work from home, you negotiate lots of things in your life. Contracts with clients, people to do work on your home, even working with your neighbors to get something accomplished. The thing I don’t like about all the negative criticism is people assume they know what the book is about and they go off on these rants. I promise you, you will read it and feel very empowered.

AllieRambles
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich  Gini, I once read you bog years ago and stopped reading so many blogs for a while (so it wasn’t you it was me, lol).  I am so glad I happen to see you this morning in my Twitter feed.  
I’ll be grabbing the book soon, thx!

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

AllieRambles I totally understand…I go through the same non-reading, reading cycles. I’m glad you saw this in your stream!

hessiejones
hessiejones
2 years 8 months ago

“joecardillo: Finally, a review of Lean In that doesn’t suck. http://t.co/IcGxO1JT7k via ginidietrich”

jolynndeal
2 years 8 months ago

You bring up such an excellent point, Gini. So many people jumped on the “here’s my opinion” bandwagon without having read the book.  It’s a reactive approach.  Your post prompted an idea for me. It would be a great interview question.  Ask what they thought of the book (or any highly publicized book) and after they finish their opinion, ask if they read it. Before forming an opinion and launching it publicly, do your homework.  It’s a leadership skill that so few have.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

jolynndeal As I made my way through the book, it became pretty apparent most of the criticism I had read had come from someone who had not read the book. I get people are busy and we all have content to create, but to your point, how about doing your homework first?

TaraGeissinger
2 years 8 months ago
The negotiating comment hit home for me. I am still amazed at how often men negotiate contracts, quoted rates, etc… It’s as if my numbers are just a starting point. My brain does NOT think like that. As you know ginidietrich and Lindsay Bell-Wheeler from my recent experiences, I’ve had to not only anticipate these negotiations, but I’ve also had to be stronger and more confident on my side of the table. I think it’s important as women to realize that we have the power to also say “no” sometimes and not negotiate. 🙂  I haven’t read the book, but… Read more »
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

TaraGeissinger That’s exactly what I thought about while I wrote that section of this super long blog post. I do the same thing…well, I did. I’ve made a concerted effort not to do that anymore.

HeatherTweedy
2 years 8 months ago
ginidietrich TaraGeissinger What hit me about the negotiation part is that it’s not just that women aren’t good negotiators, but that it we do push back, it can harm us.  I liked that she admitted that some of our hesitance comes from our emotional intelligence.  We know it’s not going to have the same result for us as it will for men in the long run.   That being said, I took my mortgage guy on as a sales mentor and it has been great!  He’s taught me so much about the process and how to not take it personally, etc.  Everyone… Read more »
TaraGeissinger
2 years 8 months ago
HeatherTweedy ginidietrich TaraGeissinger That’s really interesting Heather! I get what she’s saying. Women who push back aren’t necessarily seen as “great negotiators” but instead run the risk of being labeled “bitchy.” I agree that the emotional aspect plays a huge part too. I can easily slip into save-the-world mode where I feel terribly for people who can’t afford us and guilty about the fact that we charge a premium.  That’s why we recognized pretty early on that we needed a New Business Manager to run interference. I love that she is removed *just* enough from the emotional side that she just oozes… Read more »
sokieny
2 years 8 months ago

Well said, Gini. Thanks for inspiring me to put this at the top of my reading list!

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

sokieny Let me know how you like it!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

joecardillo Thanks Joe!

ldiomede
ldiomede
2 years 8 months ago

Great review Gini.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

ldiomede Thanks, love!

MelissaFolkKindall
MelissaFolkKindall
2 years 8 months ago
I always worry about this topic for fear of the pendulum swinging too far to the other side! But, your points really resonated with me and I’ll be heading over to Amazon to order the book. I realized I take whatever is offered to me when it comes to ME personally, although I will negotiate on behalf of my company (and family) on a regular basis. I actually went back to school a few years ago to finish my degree (two and half classes to go) because I was told I couldn’t go much further in my career without it.… Read more »
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

MelissaFolkKindall You know, I’ve thought about that too…the pendulum swing. The biggest thing I took away from the book is not that all of us have to be leading companies or all of us have to work inside the home. It’s that we get to decide what we want to do and we shouldn’t judge others for choosing something differently than we would.

mickeygomez
2 years 8 months ago

Thanks, ginidietrich, for a helpful review. I’d heard so much chatter about this book, but your assessment caught my attention and now I’d like to read it. I have to say, the timing could not be better. Some of the advice you pulled to share in your review really hit home and could not be more timely.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

mickeygomez I think you’d really, really like it Mickey. If you read it, let me know. I’d LOVE to have that conversation with you.

susancellura
susancellura
2 years 8 months ago

One thing women need to be prepared for, and you mention it, is that at first some leaders are going to be taken aback. And that is okay. The book is not saying walk in like “Xena: Warrior  Princess”. It’s saying that dig deep, find out what you want and where you want to go , and don’t be afraid to go after your dreams. We are all individuals with different needs, wants, families, friends and dreams. If we just act like lemmings, we all fail.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

susancellura I JUST had this experience. Like I said in the post, I’ve decided to stop rolling over and letting the prospects decide how things are going to be done. When I started to negotiate with a prospect on Monday, he walked away. He probably would have been a terrible client.

Unmana
2 years 8 months ago
Loved the book, love this post. But what I remember of the “Sit at the table” story (both from the book and the TED talk where she first spoke about this is that this was a story about a few other women (not her) who sat at the back of the room and not at the table, even though Sandberg invited them to. (Maybe there was a personal Sandberg story too that I don’t remember.) Anyway, I agree with you about the main points. What struck me about Lean In was the research: so many, many ways equality isn’t nearly… Read more »
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

Unmana She told that story, too. I chose the other one from her time in the government job to show it’s not an education or religion or race thing…it’s a female thing.

Unmana
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich Unmana Ah, sorry. I guess I remember this one vividly because it made more of an impression on me. 
Thanks for writing the post! Everyone should read this book.

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
2 years 8 months ago
I haven’t read the book but I want to respond to several things you mentioned in the post: 1) Fathers still worry about trying to do right by their children and sometimes take jobs/do things they don’t want to do because they think it has to be done and they still wonder how the generations before managed things. 2) Not all men ask questions or negotiate. Sometimes it is because they were never taught how to do it and sometimes it is because it doesn’t occur to them. Many don’t realize that negotiations aren’t limited to financial matters. The point… Read more »
RobBiesenbach
2 years 8 months ago

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I was thinking the same thing. It sounds like a book that would be good for men to read, too.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

RobBiesenbach Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I agree and, like I said to faybiz above, I wrote this from my perspective. What I learned, what has changed about my internal dialogue, how shocked I was at some of the things I do (even though I consider myself a feminist), and what I am going to change. Not to discount the guys at all…but the book isn’t really aimed at you. Can you learn something by reading it? Absolutely! But I wrote it for the women here.

photo chris
photo chris
2 years 8 months ago
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Joshua, my husband would agree with you 1000% percent. He’s a terrible negotiator and an amazing father. He works in accounting because, according to him, it’s a stable position. The reason Lean In is so influential for women and the next generation is because it addresses the fact that a LOT of the world is STILL raising girls and boys differently and traditionally, (note, not ALWAYS) GIRLS are taught to focus their work-life around what MAY happen one day, instead of building a full filling life around their dreams and a family around that.  If we ALL… Read more »
JoeCardillo
2 years 8 months ago

photo chris Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Totally agree. Well said Chris.

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
2 years 8 months ago
photo chris I think about it all quite a bit. I spent almost eight years as the so called “sole earner” while my wife stayed home with the kids. Part of it was because I couldn’t give birth so some of it had to be that way.  But as the father of a daughter I think about how to help her navigate some of these things so that she recognizes her opportunities to make choices. FWIW, the way I learned to negotiate came more from time in sales and account management than anything else. When you look at how many… Read more »
photo chris
photo chris
2 years 8 months ago

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes photo chris lol! This is how I learned to- from other people asking for things I NEVER would have thought to ask for!

JayDolan
2 years 8 months ago

I’m really glad I don’t have to be a man. I’ve been considering being a cat for a while now.
Seriously though, I’ve been debating about reading this one and now I feel like I need to give it a good read.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

JayDolan I kind of wish you could be a cat, too.

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
2 years 8 months ago

TheresaShafer Thanks Theresa!

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
2 years 8 months ago

KatieMHutton Morning Katie!

KatieMHutton
KatieMHutton
2 years 8 months ago

SpinSucks Morning!

wendyroan
wendyroan
2 years 8 months ago

Thank you for this post. Lean In caused me to look at my internal dialogue and how often my belief systems hold me back. I participated in a fascinating and heated multi-generational discussion about Lean In at a dinner party this weekend. One successful business woman and mom of four who still works PT at 70 was offended that women should receive special treatment. She was the anomaly, though. On the other side, a retired man talked about how he blazed a trail to effectively manage and welcome women into a male-dominated defense intelligence workplace.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

wendyroan The internal dialogue is so important! That’s exactly what it’s done to me. Thank you for articulating that so well.

RobBiesenbach
2 years 8 months ago
This is great, Gini, and makes ME want to read it — I imagine I can learn a lot for my own development as well as better understanding gender issues in the workplace. I wonder where the launch went wrong, in terms of all the blowback she received? Was it the angle they chose to market the book? As you say, it was just a small slice of the total work. Or was it just more of the usual way society tears down strong women? Finally, a small and weird point: I was talking to a woman the other day… Read more »
photo chris
photo chris
2 years 8 months ago

RobBiesenbach “confine themselves to their own personal space” LOL!
True, Rob, True! The reason women are told to do this is because they often “shrink” at meetings and give up their personal space to make room for the (usually) men who are taking it all up. Instead of “staking our own” we “give it up.” It seems like such a small thing but if you’ve ever actually done it you’d be surprised at the change in body language.

mickeygomez
2 years 8 months ago

photo chris RobBiesenbach Now that you mention it, I have noticed a difference between the two scenarios. That’s interesting.

RobBiesenbach
2 years 8 months ago

photo chris I need to learn this on airplanes!

mickeygomez
2 years 8 months ago
RobBiesenbach I have to say, I feel a little silly now for listening to the initial response to the book. What I kept hearing – over and over again – was how easy it is to give other people advice on success when you are in a position of success (financial, position, etc.). And to be honest, I wasn’t interested in reading another book about “This is how I succeeded and I’ll give you my advice but really it’s not going to work for you because it’s kind of specific to me and part of it was luck and timing, the… Read more »
RobBiesenbach
2 years 8 months ago

mickeygomez Right, I remember that now. A lot of the criticism was, “Easy for you to say, with your million of dollars and personal staff and nannies, etc.”

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

RobBiesenbach My thought is they took the “lean in” philosophy (which she talks about her in TED talk) and went with it. After reading it – and realizing that was such a small part of the book – it’s hard for me to understand why anyone would criticize it. They also criticize the fact that she went to Harvard and has had a storied life. Has she had more opportunity than some of us? Sure. But that’s not what the book is about.

Karen_C_Wilson
2 years 8 months ago
This book has been on my “to read” list since I first heard the criticism. In some cases it sounded like sour grapes (former employees). I wanted to decide for myself. Now I just need to find time to read it. Ten years ago I was working for a truly miserable woman. She was quite possibly the meanest person I’ve ever met. She was VP of the company and treated all employees (equally) badly. A colleague who’d been there for quite a long time and *hated* her job wouldn’t consider leaving because she’d just married and was looking to have… Read more »
biggreenpen
2 years 8 months ago
Hi Karen, can I piggyback on your comment? (My browser won’t let me “just comment.”). I am reading it now so won’t comment at length until I’ve read the whole thing. Similiar to the hullabaloo around “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” commenting on this book without reading it can lead to some comments that are far afield of the book’s intent (in my opinion). I did love the jungle gym vs ladder analogy. I also loved the line “if you have a chance to take a ride on the rocket, just get in — don’t ask which seat you’re… Read more »
vernette
2 years 8 months ago

battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was a great read also!

biggreenpen
2 years 8 months ago

vernette It was!! Having read the book, you may be interested in this recent blog post by one of the author’s daughters: http://tigersophia.blogspot.com/2013/08/india-reflection.html

vernette
2 years 8 months ago

biggreenpen thanks for sharing the link.

biggreenpen
2 years 8 months ago

vernette biggreenpen You’re welcome!

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

Karen_C_Wilson And can you imagine what you’d be missing if you hadn’t had your son? I mean, *I’d* be missing amazing stories!

Karen_C_Wilson
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich Karen_C_Wilson LOL…so true!!

katierosenberg
katierosenberg
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich It’s good to read your review after all the flack Sandberg received after her publicity tour. I am going to go ahead and read.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

katierosenberg As I read, it became pretty clear a lot of the criticism came from people who didn’t read the book.

katierosenberg
katierosenberg
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich I am not sure if I am shocked by that or not…

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

katierosenberg It’s disappointing. People spreading things online they don’t know are true. Lordy.

ltcassociates
ltcassociates
2 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich katierosenberg I think the empirical evidence for that comes from the link you posted to “Lean In” on Amazon. It’s got a 4.4 out of 5.0 rating from 1,241 reviewers.
“Critics” who had read the book would have– logically– voted with their ratings and knocked the book down to 3 or 2 or 1 stars. But they didn’t, which is either evidence that they hadn’t read the book, criticized without voting, or were in such a complete minority as to be negligible. Take your pick.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

ltcassociates My thinking is they haven’t actually read the book, but your assessment could be right on target.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

eplastino Do it!

eplastino
eplastino
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich Must decide if I want Kindle version or not. This seems like a book that needs to be read in hardcover. 🙂

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

eplastino I actually listened to it while I rode my bike. There were times I came dashing back to my desk to write down what I’d heard.

biggreenpen
2 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich eplastino Listening also (vs Kindle or paper)

CommProSuzi
CommProSuzi
2 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich eplastino I do that, too! IT’s bad when I’m looking for the “Skip Back” button on the radio… in the car… and realize there isn’t one.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

CommProSuzi eplastino LOL! I’m listening to Orange is the New Black right now and that’s happening. My issue is I can’t stop my bike to rewind.

tinashakour
tinashakour
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich good review. I have found many critics didn’t actually read the book.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

tinashakour It’s crazy, isn’t it? Let’s criticize something we haven’t actually read. Because that makes sense.

tinashakour
tinashakour
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich right? Pick one quote you saw on a blog from the book and form your opinion around it. Ugh!

faybiz
2 years 8 months ago
GERT!!! Now I need to read this book… as you are correct… some of what you said REALLY annoyed me and I must see for myself. How do you say this:” It’s about deciding what your definition of having it all means…not what the rest of us want it to mean” but say this: “What would a GUY do in this situation???” ARGHHHHH Why is personal issues only an issue for women when it comes to work place choices? I know plenty of GENTS who suffer in jobs (especially in this economy) mainly because they want the reliability of the… Read more »
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

faybiz My dear Todd, this is a book written about women’s equality. I certainly don’t discount some men face the same things. It was my take on spending 10 hours with a book that I highlighted, read, and re-read…and then thought about for a month before I sat down and wrote 1,500 words. Much love to my male counterparts, Gini

lauraclick
2 years 8 months ago
You know, I never really had much of a desire to read the book. But, after attending an event for a new women’s organization in Nashville that will use principles from Lean in a couple of weeks ago (and after reading your review), I have more of an interest in it now.  Love the takeaways you mentioned – especially about negotiating. For my first job out of college, I tried negotiating my salary (with a women business owner, mind you!) and the owner wouldn’t budge. I just rolled over and took it. I later realized to never settle on the… Read more »
faybiz
2 years 8 months ago

lauraclick HAPP BIRTHDAY

lauraclick
2 years 8 months ago

faybiz Thank you!

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

lauraclick HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

lauraclick
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich lauraclick Thank you!

LauraPetrolino
2 years 8 months ago

THIS!!!!
‘The point here is women’s equality is about making the choices that are best for us’
That’s all I have to add today friends since any other #petropwer babbling (in my usual charming style) would simply circle back to this fundamental truth.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

LauraPetrolino Wow. I kind of don’t know what to say.

CommProSuzi
CommProSuzi
2 years 8 months ago
“we often fight one another instead of working together,” I am grateful every day to the ladies at the agency where I cut my teeth. It was as if every female executive made a pact to influence the up and comers (I can’t believe I fooled them!)  One senior copywriter sat us all down to encourage us to start saving for retirement.  Another pulled me aside and talked to me about how to lead without disparaging myself.  Others would show compassion and guide or point out the things you were doing that made them take notice.  It was a GREAT… Read more »
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

CommProSuzi I really, really love this story. I had a boss’s, boss’s, boss like that early in my career. What an amazing experience.

jonmikelbailey
2 years 8 months ago

I was reading this post, got about a third of the way through and realized immediately that you are dead wrong! I don’t even need to read the rest. I know everything there is to know about the point you are making. 
In all seriousness, I haven’t read the book and yet all of the criticism seemed very shallow to me. I might have to just pick this puppy up now.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

jonmikelbailey You’d better rethink your comment if you want a guest post from me!

jonmikelbailey
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich jonmikelbailey Um, did you read my whole comment? No. Because if you did you would see that the first part was a joke and the second part was nothing but sincere praise. Geeez, I mean, geeez.

JoeCardillo
2 years 8 months ago

jonmikelbailey Do it! I just bought…Gini hasn’t steered me wrong with a book yet.

ltcassociates
ltcassociates
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich Alert Alert Alert I’ve seen interviews w/ Sheryl S., but I’m very interested in *your* book review cause I value your opinion.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

ltcassociates It’s a VERY good book

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

robinbroder So many reasons to love you. I find a new one at least weekly.

robinbroder
robinbroder
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich Ha! I feel the same way. We have to be sisters in a past life. 🙂

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

AnneIsenhower Thanks Anne! I also received your email…more later.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

MichelleRTaylor Thanks Michelle!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

zodot Thanks Zoe!

zodot
zodot
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich Thank YOU! I was excited about the book when it first came out so this convinced me I need to read it even more.

lcinchic
lcinchic
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich Great piece! I wasn’t interested in Lean In for some of the reasons you mention, but now I’ll check it out.

jillvan
jillvan
2 years 8 months ago

ginidietrich thanks for writing this post, Gini.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

jillvan Thanks for saying so, Jill. I really loved the book.

LynnewithanE
LynnewithanE
2 years 8 months ago

Totally agree about your assessment of “Lean In”…I felt so empowered after reading it. I could not understand the negative criticism because I spent a majority of the book nodding my head in agreement.  I even recommend it to my friends that are fathers so they can understand the unique perspective their daughters will bring to the business table.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

LynnewithanE Recommending it to your friends who are fathers is brilliant!

Debra_Ellis
2 years 8 months ago
Hi Gini, I’m leading with my credentials…I read the book shortly after it was released. It didn’t empower me. It frustrated me. Throughout the book, there seemed to be a condescending undertone that was critical of women that didn’t choose to “lean in” by Sheryl’s standards. She says that women should be able to lead the lives they want while criticizing the way some choose not to “lean in.” I often joke that I had to go to college to learn that I was short and women couldn’t do anything they wanted. No one mentioned my height or questioned my… Read more »
ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

Debra_Ellis Interesting…I didn’t feel that way at all while reading it. In fact, the “lean in” part of the book was so short, I felt like maybe there wasn’t enough about it. In your example of turning down the president job, I read the book totally different…you chose to “lean out,” in that case, to have the flexibility. And my takeaway from the book was that’s okay and we shouldn’t judge you for making that decision.

Debra_Ellis
2 years 8 months ago
ginidietrich Having different perspectives is a good thing. I’m glad that you were inspired and hope that you can leverage your inspiration into a better future. My issue is primarily with the disconnect between what is said and what is used as examples. While Sheryl said that we shouldn’t judge the choices others made, there were many things in the book that felt judgmental to me. Our perception is defined by our experiences. The example of women from the Treasury Department sitting along the wall reminded me of personal experiences where women challenged me because they thought I should have… Read more »
ElissaFreeman
ElissaFreeman
2 years 8 months ago

So here’s the thing:  I haven’t read the book…but, I get the notion of leaning in. In the last few business meetings I’ve had, I leaned in big time. Instead of sitting back, dealing with it later…I took the bull by the horns.   Leaning in will often take others by surprise…but the satisfying result is worth it.

ginidietrich
2 years 8 months ago

ElissaFreeman I love to hear that! And funny…I was just thinking about sending you a note this morning simply to say hi. So…HI!

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