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Letters From Dad: Father’s Day Advice from Famous Dads to Daughters

By Lean In • June 14, 2013
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To celebrate Father’s Day, LEAN IN teamed up with TIME to ask pops to write open letters to their daughters. The responses were equal parts heartwarming (Aaron Sorkin: “Once I saw you sit down next to a kid who was eating lunch all alone—always be that person”) and hilarious (Tom Brokaw: “Sarah, we’ll always have that New Year’s eve where I encountered your boyfriend walking through our house, drinking my precious magnum of Dom Perignon straight from the bottle”).

On this Father’s Day, we encourage you to remember this: children do better with active dads. They have higher cognitive abilities, do better professionally and are healthier and better adjusted. We need to encourage more men to lean in at home. To sit at the table — the kitchen table.

Below, personal messages from Marco Rubio, Mario Lopez, Rahm Emanuel and many more.

Aaron Sorkin to Roxy: ‘Be Brave’

Bassem Youssef to Nadia: ‘Smash Your Fears to the Ground’

Bruce Jenner to Kendall and Kylie: ‘Fear Is Part of the Game’

Chuck Schumer to Jessica and Allison: ‘You Can Do Anything You Want’

Ethan Hawke to Maya, Clementine and Indiana: ‘My Mother Raised Me a Feminist’

Jerry Jones to Charlotte: ‘Your Confidence Sold the Deal’

Joe Klein to Sophie: ‘Trust Yourself’

Marco Rubio to Amanda and Daniella: ‘Reach for the Stars’

Mario Lopez to Gia: ‘Be Tough’

Michael Bloomberg to Emma and Georgina: ‘Competitiveness Runs in the Genes’

Michael Buckley to Kendall and Morgan: ‘I Want You to be Feminists’

Rahm Emanuel to Ilana and Leah: ‘Follow Your Hearts’

Richie Sambora to Ava: ‘I Wish You Love and Empowerment’

Rodrigo Garcia to Isabel and Ines: ‘There’s a Cocoon for Young Women’

Tom Brokaw to Jennifer, Andrea and Sarah: ‘I Learned More From You Than You From Me’

PLUS, MORE ON LEAN IN

Joe Echevarria: ‘Make Your Own Choices, Live Your Own Life’

Ric Elias: ‘Remember to Question the Status Quo’

Jay Hayden: ‘Always Know Your Worth’

Frank Tataseo: ‘You’rethe Artist and Author of Your Future’

Jim Breyer: ‘You Will Make Enormous Impact’

Jason Sperber: ‘You Are Powerful. Know This In Your Heart.’

Sequoia High School

Sheryl Sandberg to Sequoia High School: What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

By Sheryl Sandberg • June 12, 2013
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Sheryl Sandberg asked Sequoia graduates: What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Watch video of her speech.

On June 7, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg delivered a commencement speech to 386 graduates of Sequoia High School, a mixed income school in Redwood City, Calif., and the oldest high school in San Mateo County. She challenged these students — 97 percent of whom will go on to college – to ask themselves: What would you do if you weren’t afraid? The following is the text of that commencement speech:

Congratulations to Sequoia’s graduating Class of 2013!

I am so happy to join you today and celebrate your achievement.  I hope that each of you is feeling truly proud to have reached this milestone. I can tell you, as a mother myself, it goes double for your family.  Seriously, their hearts are bursting right now.

So let your family hug you for as long as they want after this ceremony.  Trust me, they will look back at photos and think, “That was one of the happiest days of my life.”  And you will look back on the same photos and think, “God, my hair looked stupid.”

As I thought about what I wanted to say to you today, I reflected on the many graduation speeches I have heard.  The best speeches had two qualities:  they were relevant… and they were brief.  I will try to be both.  As a side note, of course I encourage you to use Facebook as much as possible, but please refrain from posting any “Sheryl Sandberg is boring” comments – at least until I am done.

It is an honor for me to be at this incredible school today.  Sequoia high school is a shining example of what can work in US education.  I see in your school a model of what is possible when we believe that all students can learn and we include all voices in our discussions.

A few weeks ago, I asked your amazing Principal Bonnie about the students in this class. She told me all about the fortitude, compassion and achievements of the students graduating today. Many of you started here as quiet, shy freshman, and are graduating as strong, confident seniors heading to college. Many of you have overcome real challenges to get here today – balancing school, family responsibilities and work to help your families make ends meet; worrying daily about your immigration status – caused by laws I believe so deeply need to change.  And you have done all of this while not just  doing the hard work you needed to do to get to this day, but while also contributing to your community – from starting clubs for STEM outreach in elementary schools, raising money for the American Cancer Society, and volunteering to teach kids in East Palo Alto.  It was extremely moving to see so many of you stand up as the first in your families to graduate from high school – and then to see so many of you stand again to say that you are headed to college.

Given the spirit and drive you have, I decided what I wanted to tell you today is simple – to believe in yourselves.  Don’t let anyone put limits on you.  Think about what you have already done to make it to this great day – and know that you can do anything you set out to do.  Know that you can and will graduate from college, just as you are graduating from high school today.  Know that you can and will have any job you want.  Know that if you want to, you can have a family and provide for that family.  Know that you can and will contribute in your own way to making the world a better place.

Earlier this year, I published a book called Lean In which argues that we need true equality in the world for women.  It turns out – get ready for this shocker – that men – largely white men – still run the world. I believe that the world would be a better place if it were more equal – if we gave all of our children the education they deserve, if we had leaders of different genders and backgrounds who questioned the status quo, if we had people with different perspectives at the tables where decisions are made from boardrooms to town halls.

In Lean In, I talk about the importance of self-confidence – how believing you can do something is the first step to doing it. Now for some, self-confidence comes more naturally. When my brother and I were both in high school, one day we both had dates – yes, I know, I’m so old that back then we scheduled actual dates.  And, as it turned out, our dates canceled on both of us at the last minute.  I spent the rest of the weekend moping around the house worrying about all the things that were wrong with me that made the guy blow me off.  My brother decided the girl had “missed out on a great thing” and went off to play basketball with his friends.

I joke with my brother to this day that I want to spend a few minutes as him – it must feel oh so good to be that confident.  But in reality, even he has moments where he doubts himself.  We all do.

Freshman year of college was a huge shock for me.  I went to high school in Miami in the 1980s where I distinguished myself by being one of the least cool students – often called a “nerd” by my classmates.  This was not a compliment.  I headed to college and first semester, I took a course on Greek mythology called Heroes.  This course was the easiest way to fulfill the literature requirement – and it was nicknamed Heroes for Zeroes.  The professor began the first lecture by asking which students had already read these books. Almost every single hand went up.  Not mine.  I whispered to my friend sitting next to me, “What books?”  The professor then asked, “And who has read these books in the original?” “What original?” I asked my friend. “Greek,” she replied.  I asked her, “People actually speak Greek?” It seemed pretty clear that I was one of the zeroes.

This is where believing in yourself is so important.  On that day, I felt so intimidated – I wondered if I had been accepted to college by accident, if I could keep up with my fellow classmates for even that one class.  I had to believe that I was just as smart and capable as they were – and then I had to study harder than they had to in order to catch up.

Every task before us will not be easy.  We don’t always know for sure that we can do something – especially if we have never done it before.  Believing in yourself doesn’t mean strolling into every situation confident that you have all the necessary knowledge and skills.  It means that you believe you can acquire that knowledge and those skills.  It means believing you can rise to meet the challenge.  And remember, any challenge that you can meet effortlessly is not really a challenge.

This also holds true in the workforce.  On my first day of my first job out of college, my boss asked me to calculate some numbers. I had no idea how to do it so I asked him.  He said, “Just put it into a spreadsheet–use Lotus 1-2-3.”  Yes, again I am old – Lotus 1-2-3 is an early spreadsheet program that went away so long ago that none of you have ever heard of it. I told him that I didn’t know how to do that. “Wow,” he exclaimed. “I can’t believe you got this job without knowing that.”  I went home in tears, convinced that I was going to get fired.

The next day, when I got into work, my boss sat me down. My heart was pounding.  But instead of firing me, he taught me how to use the program.  And he taught me something far more important as well.  He taught me to ask for help when I needed it.

None of us gets through everything alone.  And none of us can know all of the answers.  Part of what enables me to try things I am not sure I can do is that I know that I can always reach out and ask for help.  It isn’t a weakness to admit what you don’t know or what you can’t do.  It’s a strength.  We all need help – and feeling comfortable asking for it is a huge part of being successful.

I see too many people holding themselves back because they feel intimidated.  I see too many people sitting on the side of the room, when they should be sitting at the table.  I see too many lowering their hands when they should raising them up higher.  Too many lowering their voices when they should be speaking up.  And too many struggling alone, when they should be asking for help.

We can’t always believe in ourselves as much as we should.  I don’t always feel as self-confident as my brother – and many of the tables I needed to sit at in my life were filled with people who looked nothing like me, usually because they were all men.  Over the years, I learned that even when I feel like I don’t belong at that table – and yes, this still happens to me – I sit there anyway.  And when I see things differently than everyone else around me – and I am not sure I am right or that anyone wants to hear it even if I am — I take a deep breath and speak up anyway.

Your life’s course will not be determined by doing the things that you are certain you can do.  Those are the easy things.  It will be determined by whether you try the things that are hard.  The classes that seem impossible on the first day, but you study hard enough to pass.  The jobs you want, realize you are not qualified for, and then work like crazy to get the necessary skills.  The moments when you feel alone, ask for help, and create a bond with someone because working together helps them as well as you. The times when you see things nobody else sees, and fear speaking out but you speak out anyway… and convince everyone else. Those are the moments where you can have real impact.

Don’t let yourself off the hook by deciding that something is out of your reach.  You’ll never know what you’re capable of unless you try. If you believe in yourself and are willing to ask for help, you can do anything – absolutely anything.

This how your generation can become the Lean In Generation.  The generation that knows no boundaries, fears no fears, and changes the world.

At Facebook, we have posters hung on walls all around our campus.  They say things in big, bold red letters – slogans that we think are important. One says “Fortune favors the bold”.  Another says “Done is better than perfect”.  My favorite says “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

As you graduate today, I wish for you 3 things:

  1. That you keep in touch via Facebook.  This is critical to your future success.
  2. That you know about yourself what we all know about you – that you can do more than you think is possible.
  3. That tomorrow after you recover from your grad party, you consider this question:  “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”  Think of your answer.  Write it down.  And if you want to share it, join us at www.leanin.org.  Or take a picture of yourself with your answer and post it to Instagram — hashtag #notafraid. If you do this, you will inspire others as you have inspired me.  But whether you chose to share your answer with or just keep it to yourself, commit yourself to dreaming big and then making that dream come true.

If you do this, you will be the Lean In Generation – the generation that creates a more equal – and better – world.  A world where all voices are heard.  A world where everyone has a seat at the table.

So today, on this day of celebration, celebrate by asking yourself, “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?”  And then lean in and go do it.

Negotiation Diaries

Negotiation Diaries: ‘I Looked My Boss in the Eyes and Calmly Told Him What I Needed.’

By Lean In • June 11, 2013
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Why don’t women ask for what they deserve? Tell us what you’d do if you weren’t afraid: ifuwerentafraid.tumblr.com.

Fifty years after the Equal Pay Act became law, women in this country are still a quarter as likely to negotiate a salary. Why are we so afraid to ask for what we deserve? We asked 11 women to tell us their negotiation success stories.

Danielle Demeter, Nurse, Utah
I was offered a job with a significantly lower salary than I had been making previously. I told the guy who offered me the job that I felt it was far lower than where I was willing to start. He leaned into me and said, “You know, a LOT of women would be happy to just have a job.” I leaned in and said “I am not like other women, and you recruited me”. He ended up giving me what I wanted, but I turned the job down. Are you kidding me? If it was like that at the start, it wasn’t going to be a job that was all unicorns and rainbows.”

Nicole Stiffle, Lean In’s Social Media and Community Director 
I was working at a startup. I was hired for a marketing role, but I was doing everything under the sun. I took it upon myself to do all of that — I was in team player mode, to the ultimate degree. I knew that I was extremely valuable, and had taking a pay cut to be there. But any time that there was the opportunity to talk about getting a raise, I felt guilty about asking. So I didn’t. Finally, it was about a year and a half in, and I realized that I was extremely frustrated. We were having a one on one meeting and he could tell that something was wrong. Finally, it all poured out. I realized that I was mad at him for not offering, and at myself for not asking. I was honest about what I needed, and the conversation was one of the most frank and authentic we’d had. I finally told him what I wanted, and he came back lower. But at least it was something — it was a lot higher than I’d been for a long long time. Looking back on it, I can’t believe it took me a year and a half to ask.

Jessica Randazza, VP in PR and Marketing, New York
For me it comes down to the storytelling, painting a clear visualization of the bleak before me and the picturesque post me. Charts, pictures, competitive analysis and of course how one Jessica Randazza can solve it all.

I know my value, and the difference I can make. It took me awhile to really fall in love with my work self in a way that made me confident in what I bring to the table, but once I did there was no looking back. I’m great at what I do, and I own it. And when I approach a negotiation I think about the upper echelon of what I want from the deal, and if at the end of the day the folks hiring me will understand my value, and then typically ask for about 10% more than that. What’s the worst they can say? No? Meh.

I’ll caveat to say that I only do that in situations where I’m certain that I want to create change. Even if the circumstances/task is seemingly overwhelming passion typically pushes me through the challenges. I’ve been fortune enough to never work for a brand/mission I didn’t believe in, and I’ll credit that conviction and love for the work to my confidence.

Morgan Thompson, Statistician, Scientist, Programmer, San Francisco
A year out of graduate school with a masters in biostatistics and struggling to find steady work, I decided I would look for a part-time job.  My first job ever, at 16, was as a waitress, and I was very good at it.  I thought, surely I could get hired as one now. I applied to several places, one of them a bar/restaurant in San Francisco looking for immediate hire. When I arrived to drop off my resume, the owner (female) was very polite, but very tough and quite busy, and explained that because my waitressing experience was so long ago, it wasn’t likely I’d be considered. She was just giving me that “Thank you for coming in” speech when I said “Listen. It may have been a long time ago, but I was a really good waitress. You can contact my waitressing employer–they’ll say the same thing. I’m really smart. I’m a data scientist, I went to UC Berkeley, I work hard, I’m punctual as hell and I show up and do a good job. You should consider me.”  The owner then had the best slow smile crawl across her face, and it made my day to see it. To me, the brightening of her face said, “wow, this woman is not afraid to stand up for herself.” I was so glad to show her that I’m not afraid, that I know my own worth, and that it’s okay to stand up for oneself. She then said, “Wow, ok, let me take your resume,” and then she said “I like it,” in reference to my self-presentation.


Alfia Muzio, Lawyer-Turned-Chef, New York:

Negotiated law school scholarship; pitted two competing schools against each other, went from zero to a full ride in one afternoon. Boom.

Jessica Bennett, Lean In’s Editorial Director, as written for the New York Times
When I finally mustered up the nerve, I made my pitch clumsily, my voice shaking and my face beet red. I brought along a printed list of my accomplishments, yet I couldn’t help but feel boastful saying them out loud. While waiting to hear whether I would get the raise (I did), I agonized over whether I should have asked at all.


Gina Gotthilf, Digital Strategist, Brazil

I’d just graduated college at the height of the recession, a foreigner, with very few applicable skills (I majored in Philosophy). After sending over 90 resumes, I was finally called in for an interview for an internship at a fancy media company with high profile clients. I was offered the internship, but the HR rep didn’t bring up the question of payment. I asked, and despite the fear of having to leave the United States (foreigners need company sponsorship to stay), I refused the minimal hourly rate they offered – it was the same I’d been paid as an undergrad making omelets. We agreed on a higher rate – nothing impressive, but an upgrade. I later learned that every other intern at the company earned less than me – and that most weren’t being paid at all.

We accept the rate we think we’re worth. Speak up for yourself – nobody else will!


Carla Zanoni, Director of Social Media and Engagement at DNAinfo

I looked my boss in the eyes and calmly told him the job I had in mind and the resources I would need to make that happen, despite my fear that I was reaching too far. And you know what? He said yes.

I negotiated, hard. Me, the girl who was once told by an HR head that I was not “allowed” to accept the first offer she gave me and needed to be pushed to accept an extra $2,000 in my annual salary. Me, the girl whose former employer once said I did not need a raise, “because I was accustomed to not making money.”

And now I am here, thrilled, with my heart in my throat, doing the meaty work that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and am being fairly compensated for it. I’m over the moon and feel good. Not just because of the job, but because I went to bat for myself.

Quinn Heraty, Attorney, New York
I can’t begin to calculate how many hundreds of deals I’ve negotiated on behalf of other people as an attorney. Here are three things I’ve noticed:

(1) the initial dollar amounts for deals for my female clients tend to be lower (for reasons that may have less to do with gender and more to do with their experience, the scope of the project, the rights/work involved, etc.);

(2) too many people view negotiating as “fighting,” when it is actually exactly the opposite; and

(3) some people don’t want to ask for what they want because they think the other side will say no (talk about negotiating against yourself!).

Learning the language of negotiating can help offset some of the anxiety people feel. For example, if someone makes an offer that needs to be improved, tell them something along the lines of “Overall, I think this is a great start, but I’m not comfortable with (x, y, z), I’d prefer (a, b, c).” Or: “Let’s see what we can do to make both sides comfortable.” Yes, I used “comfortable” in both examples; I’ve found that this type of language leads to cooperative negotiating.

There are lots of language hacks: “I think we’re close. If we can change (x, y, z) then we have a deal.” “It looks like we’re too far apart on (x, y, z). How flexible can you be on those points?”

And for crying out loud, don’t be so afraid of hearing “no” that you don’t express what you want. You’d be surprised at what people will say “yes” to if you give them the chance.


Jennifer Pelka, Food Evangelist, Tumblr

My best negotiation experience was interviewing for a job, the HR person calling to tell me I was the best candidate for the role but priced out, me following up with the hiring manager to say why I was so passionate about the company and that I would like to stay in the running, getting through references, receiving an offer 20 percent higher than what they originally said was the ceiling, and then my counter-offering for an additional 20 percent and them accepting it. I was in my late 20s, applying for a position in tech. I think if you’re right for the role and make it clear that you’re aggressively passionate about it, your prospective employer will only see your negotiating skills and persuasiveness as an indicator of future success in that role. Make them an offer they can’t refuse: You in all your ass-kicking glory.


Nicola Geary

I have always been hesitant to ask for more in the past. But this latest job search, I decided to approach it “like a man”. I went into interviews brimming with (sometimes fake) confidence, never apologized for my own perceived lack if experience in certain areas (but instead touted what experience I did have) and when an offer came I asked for more. It helped A LOT that I was dealing through a recruiter, so I didn’t have to ask my manager directly. I didn’t get a lot more, but it was something and more than I’d have gotten without asking!

Want to share your negotiation story? Email us at info@leanin.org

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