Some 40:20 Vision From Sheryl Sandberg’s Speech At HBS

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Have a vision and put the right resources together and operationalize something!

By Christina Vuleta (Founder, 40:20)

One thing I love about this time of year is the commencement speeches…always full of 40:20 Vision and I’m a sucker for them!

Today I’m sharing a speech that Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, gave to the Harvard Business School 2012 Graduating Class. Read here for the full speech. Read on for the highlights:

Mark Zuckerberg, age 28 : Sheryl Sandberg, age 42 – some great 40:20 / 20:40 Vision!

“I was sitting where you are today and Mark Zuckerberg was 11 years old.” – Sandberg speech at HBS, May 23

On taking the riskier path…

“Get on a rocket ship. When companies are growing quickly and they are having a lot of impact, careers take care of themselves. And when companies aren’t growing quickly or their missions don’t matter as much, that’s when stagnation and politics come in. If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.”

On the climbing the ladder…

“Careers are not a ladder; they’re a jungle gym…look for opportunities, look for growth, look for impact, look for mission. Move sideways, move down, move on, move off. 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.”

On leadership…

“A good leader recognizes that most people won’t feel comfortable challenging authority, so it falls upon authority to encourage them to question.

When you’re a leader, it’s really hard to get good and honest feedback.

One trick I’ve discovered is that I try to speak really openly about the things I’m bad at, because that gives people permission to agree with me, which is a lot easier than pointing it out in the first place.

As you graduate today, ask yourself, how will you lead. Will you use simple and clear language? Will you seek out honesty? When you get honesty back, will you react with anger or with gratitude? As we strive to be more authentic in our communication, we should also strive to be more authentic in a broader sense. I talk a lot about bringing your whole self to work—something I believe in deeply.”

On women in business..

“Women at the top C-level jobs are stuck at 15% or 16% and has not moved in a decade. Not even close to 50%. We need to acknowledge openly that gender remains an issue at the highest levels of leadership. The promise of equality is not equality. We need to start talking about this.

A couple of weeks ago in an interview I said that I leave the office at 5 p.m. to have dinner with my children, and I was shocked at the press coverage. One of my friends said I couldn’t get more headlines if I had murdered someone with an ax! This showed me this is an unresolved issue for all of us, men and women. Otherwise, why did everyone write so much about it? And maybe, most importantly, we need to start talking about how fewer women than men, even from places like HBS, even in this class, aspire to the very top jobs.

Give us a world where half our homes are run by men and half our institutions are run by women. I’m pretty sure that would be a better world.”

This post was originally posted at 40:20 Vision.

About the guest blogger: Christina Vuleta is a strategic consultant and creator of 40:20 Vision, a blog that provides advice from 40-something women to 20-something women. Most recently a director at The Futures Company, a strategic marketing and trend consultancy, Christina has made a career out of understanding insights that drive women’s aspirations and life decisions. Follow her on Twitter at @4020vision.