Now that I have read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, I can simply say that I was disappointed. As I wrote earlier this year, I had fairly low expectations of the book. I suppose if I measure my sentiment after reading to what I expected prior, my expectations were met. But not for the reasons I initially expected.
Here’s my bottom line:
While I found myself agreeing with many key points, and identified with some examples, her thesis still comes down to the idea that it is incumbent on women to make changes in their behavior to unlock the executive suite. While I don’t disagree that we are all personally responsible for our own success, I do believe there are institutional barriers for women that men do not face. As long as we keep putting the onus on the individual, we won’t address these barriers. We won’t make REAL progress.
What are these institutional barriers? Everything from modern business only gives lip service to the family, and still tends to evaluate female employees in the context of potential parent, to traditional “masculine” values and management styles are more highly prized than the feminine.
I was disappointed because numerous times in the book, Sandberg seemed to almost get there — to ascribe some responsibility to the infrastructure, but then she pulled back to the personal responsibility.
Ultimately though, the larger disappointment was that the book ended up being a $15 commercial for her Lean In Circles.
I read it on my Kindle, and at about 66%, I had to put it down for a few days, figuring to save the last third for a time when I could sit and read it through. Imagine my disappointment when I went back to it, to read about three additional pages, and a plug for the Lean In Circles, followed by the longest acknowledgement section I have ever read.
So, I didn’t hate the book, but I kinda want my $15 and the couple hours I spent reading it back. I felt conned.
Speaking of the con, my latest guilty pleasure is the UK drama Hustle. It ran for eight 6-episode seasons, ending in 2012, but we just discovered it this year. The protagonists are con artists, and not in the Robin Hood “give to the poor” genre that the US flavor of this concept has (Leverage.) In Hustle, while the marks are clearly bad greedy fools who deserve to lose their money, our heroes definitely keep the money for themselves.
And you root for them, every time.
The actors are all excellent, but I do have to single out Robert Glenister as Ash Morgan and Adrian Lester as “Mickey Bricks.” Lester was not in season 4 which was by far the weakest. It was also great to see Robert Vaughn — in his 70s — having such fun with a role.
Seasons 1-4 are available on DVD in the US, but you can find the others on the BBC’s YouTube channel. Here’s episode 1, season 1: The Con Is On.
Trust me. The mark gets ripped off in Hustle, but you don’t!