Lean In

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I felt so happy to meet Sheryl Sandberg at BlogHer

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and the author of Lean In, talked about how women can step into their rightful place as leaders.

Sheryl Sandberg
Lisa Stone interviews Sheryl Sandberg at the BlogeHer Conference in Chicago

Sandberg said she was inspired by Mellody Hobson, a Chicago businesswoman, who said she was “unapologetically an African American and unapologetically a woman.” Sandberg said she was “unapologetically a business executive and unapologetically a feminist.” Me too!

Sandberg’s blunt truth is that “men rule the world. Ninety-five percent of big companies are run by men.” We all have biases so let’s not be afraid to talk about them and fix them.

As women, we must do a better job of believing in ourselves and stepping up as leaders. And we don’t have to be titans of industries. This applies to women as leaders in our families, school boards, small businesses, classrooms, and hospitals — wherever we find ourselves .

I love this message. I’m glad people are hearing it. I’m glad women are lifting each other up.

I stayed for a small group session. That’s where I briefly chatted with Sandberg. I told her I, too, was a COO of a small biz.

“Really?” she asked. “What’s your business?”

“I lead writing workshops.”

“That’s great!” She said. She seemed genuinely excited and interested in Boot Camp for Writers

As a workshop leader, I’m always trying to improve my game. So I wondered what kind of workshop does the most powerful woman in the world lead. Turns out it’s not so different than mine. Yes, the introduction part of the workshop is EXACTLY the same as mine. It’s a way for people to get to know each other and it’s an exercise I learned from my mother.

Professor Carole Robin from Stanford University led the small group exercises. She told us that we are “three to six times more creative in a group than we are alone.” The power of the peer group can be seen in study groups, weight loss programs, and I would add, church groups. We are challenged and encouraged in small groups. We learn best when we move out of our comfort zones. In fact, “it’s impossible to learn if you remain comfortable,” Robin said.

In our group of six we talked about times when we were brave and times when we were unable to take risks. I can’t disclose more because we agreed to anonymity. We learned that disclosure begets disclosure. And I made a few new friends and cheerleaders!

Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, is a bestseller and it’s my book club’s choice this month. We meet on Monday night. And you know I’ll have a lot to talk about when we get together.

I’m going to check out LeanIn.org, which is the fastest growing and most engaged internet community . I’m going to value and encourage the leadership of the women and girls in my life. I’m not afraid to push back on sexism and the pay gap. I’m not afraid, even when I feel myself shrink from taking my rightful place at decision-making tables.

I have Sandberg on my side. So do you. So go ahead. Lean in. We’ve got your back.

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Loehmann’s Fitting Room

There’s nothing like a visit to Loehmann’s communal fitting room to motivate you to work out!

That’s what I was thinking last night  as I was trying on summer dresses, bras, and, bathing suits in Loehmann’s changing space — you can’t really call it a room. A room implies there are boundaries. And boundaries are in short supply.

At one point the friendly gal beside me reached over to straighten my twisted bra strap. That rattled me. But I laughed, “Gotta get a new sports bra ’cause after looking in the mirrors here, I gotta work out!”

“Oh, nothing new for me — I’ve had weight problems my whole life,” she told me. “I’m shopping for clothes for my new job. My first real job!”

“Congrats! Hey those are cute!” I pointed to her black pants.

That’s an unwritten rule in the communal fitting room — you can compliment an outfit, but  you can’t criticize it. And apparently you can straighten one another’s bra straps.

Although I was embarrassed by every one seeing every part of me, one consolation is that I can see every one too. (Not that I looked. I’m just sayin’!)

I tried to keep my eyes and my body to my little space, trying on four out of the five dresses hanging on the hook. All a bit snug.

I hope it’s not bragging to tell you that on most of my visits to the fitting room, just about every single item looks great on me. But not so last night.

Although the red dress, the last one, worked.

In the cashier line I barely recognized my fitting room mate with her clothes on.

I said, “Hey, I’m getting the red dress!”

“Great!” She smiled, happy for me. There’ s nothing like the banter about purchases and camaraderie between women who’ve been naked together.

“Good luck with your new job!”

“Good night!”

This morning I woke before the family and I ran for 18 minutes. I think I went a mile. Then I picked up bagels.