September Must Read Part 5:
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
When I started my career 6 years ago, I reached out to a fellow woman LPL financial advisor in Connecticut, who specialized in divorce planning. It was an area that I wanted to explore and possible focus my work on. She finally returned my calls and emails about 2 weeks later saying that she was too busy to give me any insights or advice. Since that call, we have changed firms from LPL to Raymond James Financial Services, and with that switch, I gained a whole network of women advisors. They have monthly webinars, an annual conference just for women, and invitations to the events they host at the other conferences. The women’s annual conference is probable the loudest conference I’ve ever attended, you can imagine what a room of hundreds of women sounds like. My purpose of telling you this is to set the stage for Lean In. It is a book written by Sheryl Sandberg about empowering women to help each other ”lean in” and expand the possibilities for yourself and for other women. Instead of being like the advisor who turned me down, we can help each other grow our leadership base to more and more women. All of her profits from the book go towards her nonprofit, LeanIn.org, which is an online community to keep this conversation going and support women.
She quotes the legendary Warren Buffet, who credited his success to competing with half the population. He was only competing with men since women had just started to tap into Wall Street and the world of investing. We need more women in leadership roles in the government, in finances, and in the corporate world. However, is it the chicken or the egg that comes first? Do we need more women wanting the CEO role, or does the company need to become more female friendly for it to have a woman CEO? Sheryl tosses it up to both ideas are equally important. Women need to make the male oriented careers more female oriented. She helped create something as simple as maternity parking spots at Google while she worked there. And it is just as critical for women to initiate the conversation for their coveted promotion or increase in salary, which men have no problem doing already.
How does the different drive in men versus women start? JC Penny sold a t-shirt for girls that stated: “I’m too pretty to do my homework so my brother has to do it for me.” What a statement to make to a little and impressionable girl. From the beginning, young girls are treated differently than boys whether it is on purpose or not. In the classroom, girls are more obedient, and taught to raise your hand before speaking. But while in the workplace, the opposite is encouraged and rewarded. Why should there be pink toys for girls and blue toys for boys? Why can’t women be ruthless at work just like men are without being called bossy?
Sheryl goes over a study done where men and women were given the same exact story about a successful entrepreneur. The students were told the same story but one using a male entrepreneur and the other with a female, all other factors remained the same. At the end, the students decided both were competent, but they would rather work for the male entrepreneur. The female was seen as selfish and not as someone you would want to hire or work for. Remember, it was the exact same story! Ugh!! So women are viewed poorly if they succeed in a career. Now how do we overcome this perception of a prosperous woman? As Sheryl points out, we can’t get ahead by being nice since people view nice as not competent. On the other hand, if we are too competent, that means we aren’t nice, and who wants to work with someone who isn’t nice? What a conundrum women face! As Mary Sue Coleman, former president of the University of Michigan says, we need to be “relentlessly pleasant.” In other words, we need to be a charming and polite Pit-bull, persistent and unyielding but in the kindest way possible. Easy enough, right?
Mentoring can have one of the largest impacts for someone’s career. It will encourage more women to go after their dream jobs. We need someone, who can be honest with us while having the right intentions. Recently I politely yelled at my boss, who is also my father, that I need more feedback from him. It can be hard to ask for feedback since we are already so tough on ourselves, but we need to hear it from an outsider. So I asked my father if we can meet quarterly and perform assessments, and I will ask you my readers for feedback as well. Let me know what you like or don’t like about my blog. I would also love to hear your input on topics you would like to read about so please email Jessica.Weaver@raymondjames.com with your comments.
This ends our September Must Read book list, and I hope you got at least one good piece of information from it. We have more enticing topics for October, such as the historical inflation for beauty products, what the best “push present” is for new moms, and a special Halloween post. Happy Reading!
Jessica Weaver, CFP®, CDFA™, CFS®
The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. Raymond James is not affiliated with Sheryl Sandberg or the LeanIn Organization. Any opinions are those of Jessica Weaver and not necessarily those of Raymond James.