Interview with Sheryl Sandberg
By blogher13liveblog on July 28, 2013
>> Ladies and gentlemen and gentlemen, please take your seats, our session will begin shortly.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome BlogHer founder Lisa Stone and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
>> LISA STONE: Good morning. I am so impressed that you are all up at this hour. Because I saw you last night. Welcome, Sheryl Sandberg.
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: Thank you. So thank you, Lisa, for this incredible thing. I am so excited to be here, because lean in is all about voice and about women having voice and I don't think there's a better audience out there that is a better example of the power of women and voice than this audience, so I'm just so excited to be with you this morning.
>> LISA STONE: I couldn't agree with you more. You guys are amazing.
I gave a little preamble yesterday morning about what I thought about your book, and you read what I think, so let's dig right in. You wrote that this book is what you would write if you wanted to think. What do you think?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: I think what the world does to women is they talk about or. Men can be professionals and parents. They can have interests and no one ever tells them really they can't do things, and with women they tell you it's or, and so for me, I was told by many, many people that I could either be a serious businesswoman or speak out as a feminist but I can't do more. But what happened to me, Melody Hobson.
>> LISA STONE: Where are you Melody?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: Local Chicago legend. I met her a bunch of years ago and she said to me that she wants to be unapologetically a woman and unapologetically AfricanAmerican. And that was a really important lesson for me, and I thought about the fact that I want to be unapologetically a business executive and I want to be unapologetically a feminist. And I think I can do both at the same time.
>> LISA STONE: So were you afraid that maybe statements like sad but true, men run the world, and the issues in gender inequality worldwide are a serious moral issue? Were you concerned at all about how that would play on Wall Street? Or with the board rooms you sat on for years? I love that. Especially in Silicon Valley.
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: They love to be told that the world they created is completely broken.
So for December 2010, I was invited to give a public talk, it was ten women but I was supposed to talk about social media and I wanted to give a talk on women. And everyone I knew with Melody being one of the few exceptions told me I was crazy. You can't speak out on women because people will understand that you're a woman. I'm like okay that seems pretty obvious anyway, but for me it's what you said. The blunt truth is men run the world. But I say that on stages and the audience gasps. Like look around. Right? There's not a single country in the world that doesn't have 95 percent, 95 percent, of its companies run by men. There's not a single company in the world that has women as a majority in their parliaments. There's not a single company in the world where women have nearly as much voice as men and that needs to change and for that to change it's going to take these amazing people in BlogHer. As you are sitting there with your computers, and your iPhones, blogging not just what we say today, you guys are doing that. It's going to take all of us working together.
>> LISA STONE: Let me ask you about that, because as I mentioned yesterday, having been interviewed about lean in by a number of journalists who have clearly not read the book, is lean in only for CEOs and only for women who want to run for office?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: Not at all. Lean in is about believing in ourselves and reaching for any ambition. So I heard from mothers, nonmothers, men, women, all around the world, that thinking about what they would do if they weren't afraid has really changed their lives, and we the stories range anyone a woman who went to her school district to fight for what she needed for a special needs child to a fulltime work at home mother who found a better teacher for her child even though her district told her no to women who are reaching for suite seats. It's what we want to do if we weren't afraid and reaching for those ambitions no matter what they are.
>> LISA STONE: So you work out what has happened since you started launched the book, started lean in.org, can you share with us what's happening?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: Yeah it’s great. I want to introduce my amazing team. They're all wearing lean in Tshirts. Can you stand up, wave?
We're small but we're mighty.
So lean in as had amazing reception far beyond our wildest dreams. So we're announcing today right here that we sold a million books.
>> LISA STONE: Congratulations.
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: Pretty amazing.
>> LISA STONE: Do you know that if a woman writes a book, it's 40 percent more likely to be a bestseller.
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: I'm not surprised.
>> LISA STONE: That's a huge statistic. Congratulations.
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: We're really excited.
>> LISA STONE: Is that a bestseller in the United States only? How many languages are you in do you know yet?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: We're in 11 languages. There will be at least 19 more coming. We've hit the bestseller list in lots of places. Been the number one business book in Japan these last couple of weeks. It's been exciting. But I think more importantly is the foundation. So along with the book these amazing group of women started lean in.org, I hope you all join up. Again we're announcing today we have over 250,000 community members. It makes us one of the fastest growing and most engaged Facebook group out there. We've had a million visitors to our website. What we've seen beyond all the numbers is the impact it's having on people's lives. So two women I met ten minutes ago right here a woman named Angela and a woman named Jennifer. Where are you guys? Stand up. Where are you guys?
Okay. So I'll tell their stories. But Jennifer told me that she was a stay at home mom, a single mom, and after reading the book, she started a company, and she gave me her business card with what is a thriving company and we're all really proud of you. Congratulations.
Angela works at a company. She told me that after she read the book her company doesn't have a social media strategy and she could be the first one to do that, so she wrote it up and pitched it and they have every property on social media.
And that's what this is about. It's about every woman who leans in, every man who leans in for equality. It's about realizing whatever our individual dreams are and leaning on each other for the support you need to get there.
>> LISA STONE: You made a great point when you mentioned men. I was speaking yesterday with Annie from Ph.D. parenting and she said she was really interested this year about how you are encouraging companies, maybe even your own employer, to support men who want to be more supportive of women, since women are now coleading, it's not leading households financially.
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: That's right. Lean in has more than 250 corporate partners. Everyone from Cisco to American Express to Estee Lauder, to nonprofits. Teach for America, the Hispanic caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus. All across the board, lots of different organizations and what we're finding is that these organizations are taking the steps and talking about gender equality. Because what's really happening is we never talk about gender. We talk about it when we're with our girlfriends but we don't talk about it where it matters, where we can tell our bosses and colleagues the things we need to reenter the workforce or to enter the workforce on our own jobs or to do the jobs we need to do while supporting our families. And these companies are starting circles and they're changing things within their own company and we're really proud of the work they're doing.
>> LISA STONE: That's interesting, because your book is such a personal anthem, and you're very upfront for the people who haven't read the book, the first 20 to 40 pages is a preamble of here's what this book isn't about. Here is what I don't think I can change in time to help you. And since I can't, I'm sorry to summarize you I guess, but since I can't, here's how I think you should change your internal game, right? So how interesting that something that has started with suggesting women change inside a system that's broken for us has evolved into moving things that are happening on corporate campuses.
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: We did both. The book argues hopefully very clearly that one thing individuals can do is change the companies and institutions they work for. So that's what we're seeing. People stepping up, forming circles, talking about gender in a new way. What the book is trying to explain is that there are these biases we have against them and they're very deep and they start very young, so we call our little girl bossy. How many peer, how many of you all, how many people here were called bossy as a child? Yeah. Me too.
How many of your brothers were called bossy? Raise your hand. Go ahead.
So I do this all over the world. I ask audiences and there's no men here. I can tell you what happens. There's a couple. There's one, two, three. Gloria Steinem said when the revolution happens, the men are going to get a pass, so this is the best investment of an hour of your time that you could have made. So we'll try with our four men.
Please raise your hand if you're been told you're too aggressive at work. Only men. Only the men.
If you're a woman, please raise your hand if you've been told you're too aggressive at work.
That's the problem. And if we're going to change that problem, we're going to change that problem as individuals and we're going to change that problem within institutions and lean in is trying to do both. So I've been telling people, next time you're about to call your daughter bossy, you take a deep breath and say my daughter has executive leadership skills.
>> LISA STONE: So we asked our community on BlogHer.com, we reached out across our 5,000 person visionaries panel, within five hours we had 300 really deep layered openended responses that I'm happy to share with you and the team, but what is your leading fear for any changes you'd like to make, or are you fine or are you already addressing it or don't live your life that way? And we have the largest group of women who was afraid of something, were very much afraid that leaning in would threaten their economics. Would damage their position at their job or earning potential. What advice do you have for the woman who is going solo on the job and wants to change this?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: I mean I don't think we should jump off bridges. I think financial responsibilities for women are a hugely important part for supporting families, particularly single moms. 40 percent of children are being raised by single parents, mostly moms.
I got an email after the launch from a woman, she's 62, she's back in the workforce. She never graduated from college. She's in a low paying job. She went in because her husband lost his job, couldn't get another, had to support the family. She read the book, she thought carefully about what she was going to say about getting a raise, she walked into her boss's office and she got one. So we are as part of the foundation the amazing Jessica Bennett who is here with us today made an incredible film I want to show about what you do if you weren't afraid. It's short.
>> I just got nominated for my second Emmy and I still can't say I'm a writer. I have the voice. But I feel uncomfortable calling myself a musician.
>> The ballerina is about five four, long legs, long fingers, I don't have that.
>> I am afraid of managing alone.
>> I'm afraid of failure.
>> This year, nearly a million women will graduate from college. Educated and prepared to take on the world. Are they ready?
>> At the create this dream about going to college and finding a job and finding themselves but learning there's a lot of things holding women back.
>> There's things that encourage leadership in boys but not in girls. Even if it's on the kindergarten playground. We cheer him on and don't criticize. They call the girls bossy. In time the girls internalize these messages.
>> I was often told that being sweet was best, being night and polite. You have to realize that it doesn't matter if people don't like you.
>> Studies show that when they graduate from college, more men than women see themselves as leader. For many of us the challenge is overcoming our fears. It's asking the question what would I do if I weren't afraid.
>> I heard that there was a way to look at fear. (Inaudible) and run or face everything and recover.
>> If I weren't afraid I would have studied music in college. I would march in my boss' office and demand more money.
>> If I weren't afraid I would tell the guy in the hall (inaudible).
>> Let's change the equation. Let's stop being afraid.
>> It's scary but I think I'm going to be okay.
>> I'm going to speak my mind.
>> I'm going to find a way to tackle my fears.
>> I'm not afraid anymore.
>> As women we need to own our success. We need to believe in ourselves, raise your hands, take risks. We need to overcome our fears.
>> We're going to do it.
(End of video.)
>> LISA STONE: Sheryl, so we've been asking women what would they do if they weren't afraid.
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: We asked Lisa, you want to share yours, I'm going to share mine.
>> LISA STONE: One of the reasons I feel like I have such an appreciation of the radical statements that Sheryl is making has to do with the fact that I have now spent time in many board rooms and many venture capital offices, having conversations with people who are shocked that women think that this is not a meritocracy and it is fascinating. The degree to which seeing statistics and feeling the reality are so different, and there are many stories like that being told, you know, at this conference, and of course on your blogs.
I want to ask you specifically about the lean in foundation and in a few minutes we're going to get to some more questions about you, Sheryl, personally, et cetera, because we all have a million.
But what is the foundation's mission? What do you want to accomplish over the next, let's think for Internet people, five years?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: We want to provide women with the encouragement, support. We want women and we're going to ask all of you to do it, to write out what would you do if you weren't afraid. We actually have a photo booth back in that corner. You can take a picture there. Take a picture, post anywhere and hash I'm not afraid. But what we want women to do and men is to believe that we can get to real equality, believe that men can have as much voice as men, women sitting at every table. We want to close the pay gap. Women get paid 77 cents for every dollar a man gets for a job.
>> LISA STONE: Or as was written wrote, can a pay 55 dollars for a hundred dollars worth of groceries? Because I'm paid 55 cents for every dollar.
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: That's exactly right. So we're running three programs, we have the lean in community which I hope you'll all join. It's a very active Facebook community on Facebook and on our site where women are telling their stories. There's a woman here who named Katherine who I haven't met. Her story is one of them up there but she talks about how she was in corporate marketing and how she suffered from serious postpartum depression and then lost her job and obviously that's a scary thing but then she founded a blog on postpartum depression and now she's running the number one blog on that site.
>> LISA STONE: And led national legislation.
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: This is about sharing our stories and conversing with each other every day.
The second piece is our education piece. We have expert lectures. Everything on how to negotiate for a raise to dealing with gender bias to building great teams. Excited to announce today that we have 60,000 over of the lecture, about 20 minutes each, so invite everyone. They're on line for free. The idea there is we've taken materials that have been developed by the institute for gender research at Stanford that would only be available for executive women, and filmed it and put it on line for free so that every woman can access that. So we're excited about that.
>> LISA STONE: Fantastic.
So if you go to lean in.org.
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: So if you go to lean in.org, there's community. We're going to have a breakout session after this. I hope people will stay. An amazing professor from Stanford named Carol Robbins is here, she's going to lead us through the power and an exercise that really shows the power of sharing. So I'm excited about it. Rachel Thomas, lean in president, she's going to stay. We're also announcing today that we have over 7,000 registered circles. It's pretty exciting. You don't have to register with us. We don't know how many circles but there's at least 7,000. Circles are small groups. We suggest 8 to 12 men and women. We get together every month to help. What's happened is there's a circle in San Francisco that I met with and they went around the room and each one of them told me what has changed in their lives since they joined their circle.
>> LISA STONE: Let me ask you a question. Because you are very specific about the circle of philosophy. It is not the same as a coffee klatch or getting together once a quarter with your girlfriend for a six hour dinner. So what is special about the way a circle gets together? And I know that some people have to speak later and not everyone will be able to stay. I'm sure many will. Can you boil it down for us? What's the secret for a successful circle?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: The idea behind circles is none of us do this alone. None of us stand alone. We all need support. Peers can be incredible mentors. We spent a lot of time looking at best practices, everything from health groups to support groups to book clubs. We looked at all the best practices and tried to gather them. Our recommendations on there are suggestions. We have seen all kinds of circles. Circles with a hundred people. There are circles that have meeting weekly, monthly, there are father daughter circle, Asian American circles, there's all kinds of circles. Everybody can do what they want. There's a couple of things we recommend strongly. We recommend that people are committed to getting together, if it's once a month, that they really committed to each other. We recommend very strict confidentiality, meaning that what is in that circle stays in that circle and that is something we heard over and over again, that small groups will stay together when there's trust and they fall apart immediately when there's not. And we also recommend that people look for peers. If you're really sharing openly, it may not be the best place to be in a circle with your boss or your clients. Peers, people for whom you can totally share, and then you have lots of we have lots of materials on how to structure them if you want to use them but we are seeing all kinds of things happening, but we hope people will try and come back. One of my favorites is a virtual circle of bloggers and they started a circle called breaking glass and breaking ass.
>> LISA STONE: I'm going to veer slightly into your world as Facebook's chief operating officer. One of the leading questions I got from the community when it was mentioned that we were going to talk is about the whole hash tag Facebook initiative and I wanted to know if you could talk a little bit about the steps Facebook has taken, certainly you have your code of conduct that's been up for years, but it's a massive and growing international community. What are you all doing, how can a community like this one help?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: It's a really important question. I'm glad you asked.
So Facebook, the user generated site. We have 1.15 billion people who write things. We don't filter that content. It's impossible to do that. So we have this really big challenge between free expression which is really important. We don't want to be in a business of censoring, and creating a safe and protective community. We take both very seriously. If you look at our community codes, they are the strictest of any out there for any site. We do not allow pornography. We do not allow nudity. We do not allow anything which is symbolic of rape or any of these things. We have a challenge enforcing this principle. We really do, because the content comes on and we developed technology to find things and we really rely on people to report things. And we are doing our best to make sure the community is as protected as possible.
The number one thing people can do is when you find content that's inappropriate, there's a report button. Hit that button, because we can look at and take down inappropriate content as long as we see it. And that is a really important part of what we're trying to do.
>> LISA STONE: You had a fantastic quarter announcement. What's the future for you? Are you going to run the joint some day?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: I'm doing all the leaning I can do right now. But I I love Facebook. I love Facebook probably for the reasons that the women in this room love writing and you love the works that you do, which is that Facebook is an individual voice. So the women in this room, you guys have voice because you can publish blogs and you have voice, you are a successful journalist and marketer and blogger and I have voice from running a company, but most people out there don't have voice because they can't really communicate and if you look back a couple of decades ago, if you wanted to rich people had you to be rich, famous or own a TV station and Facebook helped to change that by giving every individual the power of their own voice. So I'm going to continue to do it. I don't work on a full time, but my amazing lean in team that is supporting women around the world, I'm really proud of them.
>> LISA STONE: You mentioned that you're leaning in as much as you can. You have two children, what are their ages?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: Six and eight. We just had a birthday. My daughter tried to make it her birthday month. You get a day or a week, not a month. It's my birthday this month, can I stay up late? It's my birthday this month, can I have ice cream for breakfast.
>> LISA STONE: And you're married. So what do you do when you get stressed personally? I mean how do you manage all the lean in?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: I watch really bad or really good TV.
>> LISA STONE: What's your favorite?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: I just watched the whole season of girls, which is excellent TV. And I just watched the whole first season of Nashville, which I love. Yeah. Awesome.
>> LISA STONE: Oh, Connie. I know. Maybe next year.
It's really well written.
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: Very well written.
>> LISA STONE: So when you look forward, are we ever going to see you seek national office?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: No.
>> LISA STONE: How come?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: This is again about all the leaning I can do. I really like working with Facebook. I love what lean in is doing.
>> LISA STONE: Do you have any questions for us that you want us as we draw to the end of this conversation, what would you like for us to do?
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: I guess it's the same question. I would want every woman here to ask yourselves what would you do if you weren't afraid. And answer that question. Take a picture, post it publicly or just do it for yourself if you prefer but really ask yourself that question and then inspire the women to read what you're writing, to push back on sexism, to push back on the pay gap, to get women to demand what they need. Watching what's happened since lean in has been amazing. Everywhere I go, senior executive men look at me and say you are costing me so much money.
Because all the women all the women in my company are demanding raises. And to them I say I'm not sorry at all. I'm thrilled. I am I was at a conference two weeks ago and one of the men, a CEO, told me that he really started to notice how women don't physically sit at the table, which is in my book. If you look at meetings and the corporate world or the nonprofit world in institutions, relative to level of position, more men than women sit at the center, sit at the front, and women sit at the sides. And what you can do is sit at the table like you all are today. Use their voice to be ambitious and get whatever it is they want. And do it as Melody would do it, unapologetically.
>> LISA STONE: Excellent.
Well everybody, Sheryl Sandberg. Thank you.
Thank you guys.
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: I know we're taking a quick break and I hope many of you will join us for the lean in discussion.
>> LISA STONE: If you'd like to participate in the circles, which we're going to start getting together in about 15 minutes, before the sessions start, tables of six is what's recommended, in order to use the time that we have. And let's get everybody as close to the stage as you can. Sheryl is going to stay and walk around, Rachel is going to lead these, the professor is going to talk to us, but it should be an absolutely fantastic opportunity, and I hope you do so. I can't emphasize enough how wild it was to be forced to write this down by Jessica. This really is the truth, and I think that the photo booth is a great opportunity. I'll look forward to seeing what we can accomplish with these photos.
>> SHERYL SANDBERG: Thank you all for getting up early on Saturday morning. Thank you, Lisa.
>> LISA STONE: Thank you so much, Sheryl.
>> Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats so we can begin our lean in circles. If you wish to participate, please move to the tables near the stage.
>> LISA STONE: I'm trying to get us organized this morning before this party starts. May I ask, with your permission, are there any tables who are participating in the lean in circles who have more than six people at the table? Raise your hands. I definitely see okay. We've got one. I am going to tell you that Professor Robin, who you're about to meet is absolutely focused on getting six people per table. Seriously believe the exercise will not be as good for you. So if you have a table of more than six, would you mind breaking up? There's like an empty table here. If we could have a group of people come to this table. Raise your hand, rock star, right here. What's your name?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Val.
>> LISA STONE: Val, raise your hand. Please raise your hand so they know where you are. Tables, and here's a table suddenly of six. Nona.
Okay. So there's four. We need two more.
Is the big table of more than six here going to break up or are you not going to do it? I'm just trying to play by the rules. Put your hand up. And if you end up with more than six.
Does anybody need okay. We have another table forming. We've got a four here. We've got a five. We need a six. Okay. Okay. Let's put a table together right here. All right. You guys are going to sort yourselves out.
I will not delay any further. I'm really happy to introduce you to two women who have been working so closely with Sheryl on this initiative. First I would like to introduce the cofounder of lean in.org and president, Rachel Thomas. Rachel, come on out. And also congratulations on everything you've done. And also Professor Carol Robbins who is also going to be your host this morning. Thank you so much for doing this.
>> RACHEL THOMAS: My mic is clearly on.
Okay. Hi, everybody, how are you? Can you hear me now? Great.
So we are thrilled that you're all here. There's feedback? There's feedback.
So we're thrilled that you're all here, and what we're going to do is run you through kind of a taste of lean in circles. So Dr. Carol Robbins, she's going to take most of the presentation, and I am just going to quickly introduce you to lean in. Sheryl's done such a great job with that but I'll move through it pretty quickly and then we're going to talk about circles and why we think peer groups are so important. Where is the lean in team? Sheryl is at a table right here. And I think they're going to join some of the other groups as well.
And just a quick housekeeping note before I get started, you all have white envelope on your tables. Please don't open them until we get to that point in the presentation. Thank you so much.
So as Sheryl said, lean in.org is all about encouraging and empowering women to lean in to their ambition and we do that in three ways. We have a lean in community, lean in education, and what we're all here to talk about and experience this morning, lean in circles. So the community is big and growing, and where is Nicole? So Nicole, our wonderful head of community, is responsible for all our amazing growth. And I don't need to tell you this, but people talking about something and having a dialogue about something, that's the beginning of real change. People go from talking to thinking differently and eventually to action, and we've seen so much of that. It's very exciting.
I also since you're writers yourself, since you're writers yourself, I want to let you know we have a new page on the website called news and inspiration. There you will find content that we're constantly developing to drive the conversation, much like you do yourselves, and you also find my favorite section, which is things we love.
So lean in education, as Sheryl mentioned, these are four to 20 minute lectures from experts, experts from Stanford and other experts around the world, and they're on topics that are incredibly practical. The coal is to give you skills that you can goal is to give you skills that you can take into your work or home life. How to negotiate as a woman. I don't know who told you how to negotiate but my dad is the first person who told me how to negotiate, and as you all know, if a man teaches you how to negotiate, you're not using the right fundamentals, where men use I, we need to smile more and use we.
How to manage difficult conversations. So we have Fred Cochran's video that is coming up in the next week or two on this topic. Because I bet there's not a person in this world who doesn't struggle with difficult conversations. One of the thing he's that's amazing if you learn the basic skills and how to approach a difficult conversation, women tend to be much better at this than man.
And my personal favorite is how to use body language to make a good first impression. You were probably thinking I was trying to think of what to say here this morning, and of course I did, but it only counts for 7 percent of how it affects me. You made a judgment of how confident I am the minute I walked on the stage. Most of it is body language and the rest is my voice. These are the kinds of things you can learn in lean in.org and I invite you to come and engage with our videos.
And finally what here to talk about today is our lean in circles. So these are small peer groups that meet together regularly. As Sheryl mentioned, there's no right or wrong way to run a circle. So we do have some recommendations.
It starts with you. And it starts with a commitment to be open and honest. And respect everybody else of else's confidentiality. I know we went through when we went through this last night, the more everybody shared, the more I felt like sharing, and it was an amazing process and I feel so much closer to the team for having done it.
And peers are very important as well. And again no right or wrong way to choose a peer. But the closer you are in terms of the life experiences that are current for you, the more relevant and meaningful the conversation will likely be.
And finally there's lean in, we have our (inaudible) like a recipe book for your circle. So like any good recipe, you can skip an ingredient, you can add ingredients. The idea is to make it the way you want it to be. We also have an on line tool called mighty bell. You don't have to use it. You can pick up the phone and get a group of women together and have a book club. You can also use mighty bell. You can do all of it on line.
And the goal here is that you end up with your own personal team of coaches, collaborators, confidants, and I think most importantly, (inaudible).
I want to introduce you to a couple of our circles. So Linda Brant, she has a group called lean in Twin Cities in Minneapolis and what I love is how she described it. She described it as Girl Scouts for grownups. And we have the (inaudible) and one of the things that's really interesting is circles really are coming together in all types of ways and one that we see very, very frequently is an existing group, so this group is an existing group of about a hundred women and I'm told four men that get together monthly, and what they've been doing is incorporating our materials into their regular meeting, and then they break out into more formal circles and they also blog on the experience as well.
And one of the things that's incredibly exciting, we have circles in 50 states and over 50 countries. And I think that's because we all, all of us, everybody in this room, we understand the power of peer groups and peer support. How many times do you use the expression, two minds are better than one? Or the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, or strength in numbers? And my personal favorite, we're better together.
So I want to give you an example of this in action. The butterfly on the left was drawn by a guy named Austin, and he's in first grade. How old do you think the artist on the right is?
A little louder. Seven? Anyone else? 14? 12 I think I heard. 21.
So that butterfly was actually drawn by Austin on the very same day.
So how did he do it? No teacher input. No parental input. No adult input at all. He worked with his classmates. He did draft one and they explained to him that the butterfly had pointier wings in real life. So he drafted two and got more input from them. Draft three got even better. Draft four, and then by draft five, Austin had a very beautiful butterfly. And what this illustrates is what we can accomplish as groups. And we know that, 20, 30 years of research tells us this. We're more creative in a group environment. In fact research tells us that we can be three to six times more creative in an environment with a group than we can do by ourselves. More effective. We're all the most effective when we're challenged, encouraged, challenged, encouraged, in ways that happened. That happens to the group dynamic. And we accomplish more. This is where weight loss groups come from, study groups, it's bringing people together around a common goal. And then finally we learn more together. And that is a perfect segue to Dr. Carol Robbins. So Carol is a professor at Stanford in the business school, and she teaches group dynamic and we're thrilled to have her here with us today and she's going to run us through a great exercise and before I pass you off to her I want to share my favorite story that she told me. Back in 1974, Carol was the first female nonclerical employee at the Fortune 500 company that she started with, and that kicked off a 35 year career that is eclectic as it is accomplished. So with no further ado, Dr. Carol Robbins.
>> CAROL ROBBINS: Thank you. Can you all hear me?
Okay. But I need the clicker. Rachel. The clicker. The clicker. It'll be hard to advance the slides without it.
I'm delighted to be here, and let me just start by saying that I'm not going to stand here and lecture and talk at you. I think adults learn best by doing and what we want to give you is a taste of what a circle experience might look like and feel like. And so before I launch into the activity that I'm going to have you do, I just want to build a little bit on what Rachel was just talking about, which is that in order for groups to work, as she said, groups have the potential to achieve more than individuals can by themselves but there's one critical set of things they need, and that is a good norm. So the first norm that's important to a group that's going to work together and have the result be productive for all members is shared responsibility, i.e., you all have to be leaning in. You all have to feel equally invested in the outcome of the group's work.
Second, you want to have, especially in a lean in circle, I commitment to learning and growth, not just for yourself but for the other members of your group. You also want to, especially when it comes to a group like lean in circles, you want to experiment with disclosing and making yourself vulnerable and that's because the kind of leaning in growth that's going to happen in a circle is only going to happen if you're willing to push yourself outside your comfort zone a little bit. Say a little bit more about what's going on for you, ask for help, admit mistakes, share the joy of something that's happened. All of those things tend to help to sometimes make us feel a little more vulnerable and it's sometimes in that vulnerability that we learn the most. And in order for that to happen and Sheryl said is earlier and Rachel talked about it and I'm going to say it again, confidentiality is really important. So I think the best way to think about confidentiality especially in the context of what we're going to talk about today is the Vegas rule. That's what I tell my students. You know what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas is this so your table today is Vegas, and it's fine for you to share anything you experience, anything you said, anything you learn. Not okay for you to say what somebody at your table said or did or is going to do, et cetera. Okay?
So before we launch into our activities, I need for you at your table, agree to those four norms, yeah? Look at each other. Shake your head. Okay. Vegas rule rules. Okay. Good.
Okay. So I want to start by giving you all a chance to find out who's at your table. So at your table, pair up, and listen to all my instructions first, okay? And then you can start.
And by the way, I'm going to give you very little time, and I'm going to move you to a number of different things. You're always going to think, why is she interrupting us now. So I'm going to apologize ahead of time. I'm going to do it to you quite a few times over the course of the next hour. This first one is a very simple activity, I want you to break into groups, and into pairs, I want you to interview each other and here's what I want you to find out from your partner. Obviously what is their name, where are they from, what do they blog about, what do they blog and why did you decide to stay for this breakout as opposed to a different one, and what you're going to do with that, you're only going to have two minutes to interview your partner and for your partner to interview you. And after that you're going to introduce your partner to the rest of the table.
Nicole. This is Nicole, she's from Colorado, she blogs about gardening because she loves to share her green thumb. She came to this session because she's curious about how to connect with other women in a more meaningful way.
So that's kind of what an introduction will look like, okay? So as I this just summarizes what I just said. So propose your question, two minutes each way. Then a one minute introduction around the table, which means ten minutes from now, I will say, okay, we're done. So manage your time. Okay?
You're halfway through the first interview.
Okay. Ladies, stop now and start the introductions or we're going to run out of time.
Three minutes left. You should be at least halfway through.
Did you open that envelope that's on your table? Please don't open that envelope yet.
One minute left. That means you just got done? Nicely timed, ladies. Yea, good. All right. Good.
Okay. Everybody done? That was the test run. That was the that was the practice for the next activity we're going to do, the next activity we're going to do is going to be a little more complicated.
So you all have an envelope on your table. Please don't open it yet. But if you do not have an envelope that has a number on it, on your table, raise your hand. Okay. Everybody has an envelope. Good.
I'm going to tell you what's in the envelope. I'm going to tell you what we're going to do with the items in the envelope, then you can open it, okay?
So in your envelope is a packet which includes a set of cards that look like this. They say lean in on the front. And on the back, they've got a set of questions. Now, there are two kinds of cards. You can't tell the difference by looking at the front because they all just say lean in, like a deck of cards, but I'm going to show you on the inside they're different. One set of cards has questions on it, another set of cards has a trump card. I'll explain that in a minute. The other card is a vocabulary of feeling.
Here's what we're going to do with this. The activity consists of you first of all, distributing two trump cards per person, and then putting the question cards face down in the middle of the table, and what will happen is the first person who wants to start will pick up one of the cards, and it could be a card like the one shown here that says what are you most proud of. And then that person will answer that question. Then the next person will answer that question if they like that question or they can pick up a new card, and as you go around the table, there will be more and more pass cards to choose from if you want to add some of the prior ones or you can choose another one.
So what are you most proud of, I might say oh, I'm most proud of how I have finally figured out how to balance my professional life and my personal life. Now, that might raise a bunch of questions for you. You might want to know all sorts of more things about me. But if we get into a long conversation about that, then nobody else is going to be able to answer a question. So your intention might be to have a long question about each one of these. So what I'm going to ask you to do is if the question is a clarifying question, like what I'm most proud of is my kids, and you're left thinking why am I proud of my kids, you can maybe ask why, but don't get into a long dialogue, okay? The idea here is to get around the table and get as much data out as you can.
Now, you have as I said two trump cards per person. And what you are always allowed to ask with a trump card, the trump card says how are you feeling right now. And so at any time as a listener, you can throw your trump card in the middle of the table and you can say use my trump card, how am I feeling right now. You've only got two, and once you've used them, you've used them. And as the person who has just answered the question, I have to respond with how I'm feeling right now. We tend to be really bad as acting on our feelings. Women are better at this then men, but we're socialized in settings not to (inaudible) which is why we provided with you a cheat sheet, a vocabulary of feelings, so if you feel a need to consult it, go right ahead.
Now, one of the things I'm asking you to do here is I'm asking you to be vulnerable and one of the things I feel is important to me as a teacher is never ask my students to do something that I wouldn't be willing to do. So it would have been a chip shot for me to answer the prior question because that was clearly on my slide, and I obviously would have prepared my answer. But what I'm going to do now is I'm going to randomly pull one of these questions. And I'm going to even shuffle the cards and I'm going to answer it for you.
This question asks what brings out the best in you. And I will say that what brings out the best my husband brings out the best in me. And the reason he brings out the best in me is that he unequivocally believes in me, and I've not always believed in myself and having somebody who I respect as much as I respect my husband believe in me has helped me lean in. So that would be my answer.
Now, pretend for a moment that you have a trump card that you can use right now if you wanted to ask me how I was feeling right now, I would say that I'm feeling grateful for the applause and somewhat less nervous because what's hard about sharing is I have no idea how what I said landed on all you of. So knowing how this landed on you makes me feel less nervous and grateful. So that's how this activity works. You get it?
So again to I want to just tie what I was talking about with regard to norms with how we're going to do this activity, which is everybody plays. Nobody can pass. And confidentiality is key. The Vegas rule rules, and what we know from educational research is it's impossible to learn anything new if you stay in the comfort zone. So if you're you know, the normal thing to do is to be very minimalist and say very little. Maybe you want to stretch a little bit outside your comfort zone and say a little bit more. If you're a little bit nervous, that's a good thing. It means you're learning. It means you're stretching, and so with that, those are the summary of the rules of the activity, and you've got about 25 minutes to do this activity. So as you go around, if you use all the cards, then just start again at the with the card at the top and just keep going around for 25 minutes.
Now you can open the envelopes.
You're a little over halfway through the time you've got so make sure you're moving it around and everybody's got a voice in.
Five more minutes, and then we're going to move into something else.
Okay. Wrap up whichever one you're on now and we're going to move on to something else. If you're finished, please gather up the cards. Put them in the middle so that we know you're done.
Okay. This next thing we're going to do is potentially, potentially sort of activity part 2, potentially holds the most learning for you. So I want to give you a chance to collectively now as a table of six, discuss these questions. The first one is what helped you share and take risks to the extent that you did and disclose to the people at your table, and did anything get in your way? I need to go back one slide, please, thank you.
And did anything get in your way of sharing more? Or is there something that might have helped you share something even more that would be good for the table to help you know even more.
So have a little conversation about it.
I'm back. Okay. So I want to layer another couple of questions on for you. If you're getting a lot out of these two, stay on them, but if you feel like you've mined these two questions, I'll introduce two more provocative questions to deepen your learning. Talk about during the course of this activity since we've started, since the introductions to now, if you've experienced any unexpected feelings and any take away feelings that you've learned here in the last hour. Keep the conversation going. We call this mining your experience for learning. What you have the potential to do here is learn a little bit about what brings out the best in you, what you need from other people, what you do that helps other people want to lean in. So there's a lot for you to learn from each other here in this experience, how do you create environments that feel safe enough for people to want to share with each other and lean in. So have that conversation now for a little while.
Three more minutes.
We're going to do a closing activity, so if you can stay, it would be great to have your collective voices in it.
So before I move us into the last activity, anybody out there willing to share the answer to any of these general questions, a learning or a take away? What did you learn about creating an environment that is safe enough to both challenge and stretch?
I'll repeat your answer.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible).
>> CAROL ROBBINS: The four norms that were established at the beginning established trust. Thank you for that.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible).
>> CAROL ROBBINS: Along with establishing a trust is a feeling that you're not being judged. What helps you not feel judged?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible).
>> CAROL ROBBINS: Yeah. So by the way one of the things we know from research is that disclosure begets disclosure. It's I'm willing to tell you a little bit, you're willing to tell me a little bit, so I'm going to tell you a little bit more. The closer I play my cards to the vest, the closer you'll play your cards to the vest.
I also wonder whether your point about not feeling judged has to do with the responses you get. If you share something and someone barrages you with a third degree set of questions that make you think you might have to somehow justify your answer, that's likely to help you feel more judged than if somebody just accepts, walks at your side, or even says, wow, I can really relate to that.
Other? Other insights?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible).
>> CAROL ROBBINS: The stress of confidentiality by all three of us, seeing smiling faces at the table helps. Right. For those of you who couldn't hear, the idea that six people, it's a lot easier to be intimate with six people than with 25, and also that there was a sense of control. You could skip a question. You could go back to a question. But there was also a level playing field. Everybody had to participate, and that was one of the rules. So it's both the agency that you have to do it the way you want to do it that works for you as a group, but also a shared responsibility, commitment. That was one of the four top things that we talked about at the beginning. Good.
Any others? One more? Yeah?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible).
>> CAROL ROBBINS: Yeah? I'm sorry? You.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible).
>> CAROL ROBBINS: Cool. You probably couldn't hear her, right? So what she said was she originally started to start up a circle of people her same age. We tend to think we need to have people that are like us but one of the things that is great about a group is if we have a group of people that are not like us, we have a lot more views of the world to draw on, so you learn something about the power of a group by having it more diverse.
There was one more.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible).
>> CAROL ROBBINS: So the point that I'm sorry, what was your name? Julie? The point that Julie just made, which was that they had, you know, a 17 year old and herself as a 44 year old at the table so they had the full, you know, not the full range, but a range. But the other thing that she said was that oh, I don't think I'm going to do it justice. It was so beautifully said.
That what you might have done, even though they're in such different places is they have a common goal, and that's something that I didn't talk about at the very beginning, but it's another thing that we know about successful teams and groups, which is that a common goal is what drives high performance. So to the extent that you have a shared value system or a common goal, the common goal just feeds to support and challenge each other, that will also benefit you if you decide to create a circle.
So with the time that we've got left, I'm going to ask you to do one last thing. And this is going to be challenging. But I know that you're up for it. That's like the third time I've done that, isn't it? Another slide. So at your table I want you to develop a three word closing, and choose a spokesperson and your spokesperson is going to have to be someone who has a loud voice, because you're going to say it hopefully so that everybody can hear it. And an example of a three word close is, for example, inspired, closer, motivated. Those would be three words. Okay? Or you can get clever and use a threeword phrase, like hungry for more. Or maybe you're feeling ambivalent. Uncertain but ready. So capture a threeword closing statement from your table. It can be how you're feeling right now, what you're take away is, what you hope to do. You've only got five minutes for it, max, and let me tell you what you're going to do with it so you know what's going to happen. Your spokesperson is going to stand up and yell the three words, and sit back down. Everybody been to a football game or seen a football team? You're familiar with the wave? You're going to do a wave. This table will stand up and say their three words, this table will stand up and say their three words, and we're going to go down and around until every table has been represented. I have done this with 115 people standing and doing the wave in less than three minutes. So that's going to be your challenge to beat, and you've now got five minutes to develop your three words and your spokesperson.
Okay. Any group need more time? That wasn't five minutes, but you're all bloggers, so you probably came up with your three words pretty quickly, huh?
So one spokesperson per table, three words. Everybody clear?
Okay. Sheryl's table. After the picture's been taken. Please sit back down.
Okay. Every table have a spokesperson and three words? Yes? Okay, 'cause I'm going to time you.
All right. This is how this is going to work. It's going to be we're going to start with this table, and we're going to go down this row, and then we're going to wrap around and come back down that row, and we're going to wrap around and finish over there. Quick. First person stands up, yells your three words, and the minute you stand up the next table person stands up, okay? Everybody clear? Raise your hand if you're not clear. Because we're going to time you. We're going to see if you can do this, even faster than a prior group, okay? Ready, go.
>> CAROL ROBBINS: Okay. Sit down, next person.
Great, next. Fearless and empowered. Next. Yea. Yea.
>> Yea. Next.
Okay. And do we have some tables in the back?
Very cool. Yeah.
Yep. In the back? Are you you didn't participate? And what about the very last table?
All right. That was well done. That was actually a minute and a half. Well done.
So you've given yourselves a hand. Go out there and learn more and go to lean in circles, lean in.org circles.
Thank you very much.
(End of session.)
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This text is being provided in a roughdraft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.
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