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Rachel Thomas

President, Lean In

Palo Alto, CA

I became more comfortable taking leaps of faith because I became more confident in myself.

It’s midnight the night before we launch, and although I’ve played an active role in the development of our Lean In Stories, I have yet to write my own. The cobbler with no shoes, perhaps?

Over the past few weeks, I brainstormed ideas and settled on the story of BrainTrust, the company I founded in my mid-twenties. After several “good years,” BrainTrust unceremoniously closed its doors in 2001. I will never forget the guilt I felt letting our staff go, and the pain and embarrassment of our public failure. I was shaken. On the face of it, I moved to New York and shifted somewhat effortlessly into a new career. In reality, I escaped to New York and sought out something that felt safe. I leaned back.

More time passed than I’d like to admit, but I slowly began to hit my stride. I returned to the startup world, first as an early employee and then as a founder. I became more comfortable taking leaps of faith because I became more confident in myself.

But nothing could have prepared me for the adventure I was about to take, the adventure that leads me here to you and my real Lean In Story. In early November, I received a phone call from Sheryl asking me to run Lean In. A million things crossed my mind. This could really make a difference. But can I do it? This is good for my daughter. But am I smart enough? I believe in what we’re trying to do. But do I want to take on such a big challenge? And then a question crossed my mind that stuck: What if I don’t do it?

I accepted that day because I realized my biggest regret would be not doing something I believed in so deeply.

The last four months have been some of the most rewarding and challenging of my life. I am part of a team of incredible women and men who have put everything they have into launching Lean In. I am proud of the work we’ve done together, and I am excited to continue to push myself and all of us to build a community that celebrates and empowers women. I am leaning in to Lean In.

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