Sheryl Sandberg speech at Harvard Business School 2012

Full transcript

  1. World is becoming more connected and less hierarchical. Everybody has a voice, etc.
  2. Traditional career paths are shifting as well– Google CEO Eric Schmidt said to focus on getting on a rocket ship. When companies are growing quickly  and having a lot of impact, careers take care of themselves. When companies aren’t growing quickly or their missions don’t matter at much, stagnation and politics come in. If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.
  3. Don’t tell people what you’re good at. Ask them what their biggest problem is, and how you can solve it for them. what Lori Goler did- HBS ’97, marketing in eBay.. (Sheryl’s biggest problem was recruitiing.)
  4. Careers aren’t ladders, they’re jungle gyms. Look for opportunities, growth, impact, mission. Build your skills, not your resume. Evaluate what you can do, not the title they’re going to give you. Do real work. Take a sales quota, a line role, an ops job, don’t plan too much, and don’t expect a direct climb. If I had mapped out my career when I was sitting where you are, I would have missed my career.
  5. You will not be able to rely on who you are or the degree you hold- you’ll have to rely on what you know. Your strength comes from trust and respect, not place on org chart. Talent, skill, imagination, vision, but more than anything else, authentic communication that inspires others. Listen so you learn every day.
  6. All orgs have some hierarchy. One person’s performance is assessed by someone else’s perception- not a setup for honesty. People don’t say they disagree, or that something seems stupid. They beat around the bush.
  7. As you get more senior, people speak less clearly to you + overreact to the small things you say.
  8. Interesting experience/implications with No Powerpoints rule. Sheryl meant “no powerpoints with me”, people interpreted that to mean “no Powerpoint with clients”. “Next time you hear something that’s really stupid, don’t adhere to it- fight it or ignore it, even if it’s coming from Sheryl or Mark.”
    1. Good leader recognizes most people don’t feel comfortable challenging authority, so it falls upon authority to encourage questions. Easy to say you’ll encourage feedback but hard to do, because it doesn’t always come in a format we want to here.
  9. Google Interview Story: Sheryl used to interview everyone in her team at Google. Started with 4, grew to 100. She realized she was taking longer to schedule, so she suggested at a meeting of direct reports that she should maybe stop interviewing. She thought they’d say “no, your interviews are critical part of the process”, but they appluaded and fell over themselves explaining that she was the bottleneck. She was embarrassed, then angry and quietly fuming. Why didn’t they tell her? Why did they let her go on slowing them down? Then she realized- “If they haven’t told me, it’s my fault. I hadn’t been open enough to tell them that I wanted that feedback.”
  10. Trick: Speak really openly about the things that you’re bad at, which gives people permission to agree with you rather than pointing out in the first place. For eg, Sheryl gets anxious when things are unresolved. Nobody ever accused her of  being too calm. So she speaks about it openly. If not, would anybody say “Hey Sheryl, calm down, you’re driving us all nuts?” Unlikely.
  11. It’s all professional and it’s all personal. You can’t really separate the two.
  12. Women at top c-level jobs stuck at 15-16%- not close to 50%. Need to acknowledge openly that gender remains an issue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *