Leaning In with Sheryl Sandberg at Colgate’s Entrepreneur Weekend

Sheryl Sandberg was the star act for Colgate’s Entrepreneur Weekend this year. As the COO of Facebook, mother of two and now published author, she spoke to an impressive audience about the challenges that females face as they climb the career ladder. Her book, Lean In, explores these issues as well as provides proactive solutions through which women can achieve greater and more rewarding success.

Key Points

Leaders get to create the rules – it’s a simple fact of being in charge. If more women are leaders, more women will be making crucial decisions which both impact their business directly and speak for women around the globe.

Sandberg wants to ban the word “bossy” from the playground and replace it with the phrase “executive leadership skills”. Bossy is most commonly associated with little girls rather than boys. She explained this phenemonen to be an outdated concept: it’s no longer natural for boys (and men) to lead while their women watch passively. Sandberg believes that all women possess the capabilities to lead if only they choose to lean in and take more risks, whether those risks be professional or personal.

Taking credit and attributing one’s skills to the success of a project is key. Men are more likely to claim personal involvement in a successful situation whereas women will call on the powers of luck and the help from others. Sandberg understands that assertiveness can be a major factor in selecting employees for promotions and profitable project proposals, and shyness will prevent women from reaching top leadership positions.

A final point, one which received both criticism and applause, was that Sandberg advised choosing the right life partner to be the most crucial decision of one’s career. It’s understood that the right person, not just any husband or wife, will appreciate and understand each other’s goals, strengths and weaknesses. At this point a tangible sense of discomfort and dissension rose from the crowd. Many young women, including myself, feel enough pressure to find the right job, choose the right partner and attempt to complete these “Herculean Efforts” before the age of 30. Hearing one of the most current successful females in business mention this further emphasized the competitve pressures all female Colgate students face. Although I stand in agreement with Sandberg on this issue and am aware that my choice of husband will affect my career and parenting future, it’s clearly a touchy subject to address with so young women who are dedicated to their academic and career pursuits while also striving to uphold a bustling social agenda. 

We are all facing the bottom of the food chain upon graduation. Entry-level jobs redefined as “Associate”, “Assistant”, or “Intern” do not erase the likelihood of acquiring responsibilities and tasks similar to those of Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada. Yet Sandberg cautioned against women who enter the workplace looking for an exit. Heeding Sandberg’s advice means making instinctual, sound decisions and to lean in, in whichever arena you may call the playing field.


The Twitter Top 10

I don’t know if you know this, but I love everything about Twitter. I love the way I can instantly hear about events across the world, I love how many different opinions I can hear, and I love the silly and slightly ridiculous parody accounts (if you need a study/work break, @NotTildaSwinton is a classic). I even love Twitter so much that (spoiler alert) I have been the voice of @ColgateWIB for the past seven months.

I want to share with you 10 accounts that I have found particularly informative as a member of CWIB and an individual interested in business, social media, and women’s workplace issues. 

The Top 10: 

1. Levo League (@levoleague): tips and tricks on navigating the work world. 
2. Spike the Watercooler (@spikethecooler): career and life advice for hip women. Content is not always directly workplace-related, but is always super fun to read!
3. TedxWomen (@TedxWomen): features TED talks from leading women. 
4. Forbes Woman (@ForbesWoman): the more serious side of women’s issues in business. 
5. Wall Street Journal (@WSJ): tweets many current developments in the business world.
6. Lean In (@LeanInOrg): a global support community for driven women, started by Sheryl Sandberg. Her Twitter account (@SherylSandberg) is #7 on our list. 
8. Fast Company (@FastCompany): inspires creativity in business–think outside the box!
9. The New York Times (@nytimes): a good source for news about the world in general.  
10. And, of course, @ColgateWIB. 
This list is by no means definitive but is a great starting point if you are new to Twitter or want to learn more about women’s workplace issues. 
Happy Tweeting!

The Importance of First Impressions: A Psychological Perspective

As we all know, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. A strong handshake, eye contact and appropriate attire can attribute to one’s success in both the professional and personal realm. When Professor Keating spoke to CWIB prior to our spring break vacation she focused on the first impression, namely when meeting a potential employer for the first time. We discussed key factors such as physical appearance, nonverbal expression and emotional perception when preparing for or during an interview.

Keating studies the psychology of leadership among other areas. She discussed how to grab the attention and interest of your interviewer or someone you’re meeting for the first time. She noted how dominance and comfort can be expressed by leaning forward, using your hands and smiling. Humans innately read and interpret body language and posture in order to understand the environment and attitude of the person they’re with. A strong, warm handshake is crucial; not only does looking someone in the eye while shaking hands matter but also ensuring that one’s hands are not clammy or wet. These are negative circumstances and can suggest discomfort, nervousness and insecurity. These nonverbal communication signs all contribute to the perception others form and create.

Outside the direct realm of the interview Keating called attention to the Facial-Feedback Hypothesis and how women are perceived in the workplace. We are expected to smile, to speak with a higher pitch, and to have warm personalities. Women who do not portray these qualities are considered abnormal and therefore cold. Simple things to remember like a friendly nod, leaning forward, making eye contact and speaking at the same speed and tone as your partner can combat signs of discomfort or awkwardness in a first meeting.

One of the more profound topics Keating discussed was laughter and humor as a social bond. Laughter is a common expression of comfort, joy, happiness and friendship and it serves as a common identity to which everyone can relate. As I mentioned earlier both a warm, an inviting smile and infectious laughter are generally expected of women and those who are more introverted may find they experience the negative outcomes from this perceived “coldness”. Furthermore people respond to laughter regardless of age, sex and status. Laughter can simply create positive vibes which are always helpful in new environments.

Keating concluded her discussion by reminding the women of CWIB that a strong introduction and a little self-deception of one’s emotions can be helpful in an interview. Feigning confidence is not always a good thing, however it can be a crucial aspect of the job-search as well as navigating a new environment.

Biz 101: Introduction to Business School

Our next coffee hour (11/27) will focus primarily on the topic of business school. We are lucky to have a Colgate alumna Skype into our meeting and elaborate on her experiences, but we must prepare ourselves for her virtual visit! We’ve put together a crash-course called ‘Biz 101: Introduction to Business School.’ Your first assignment is to take a look at the sources below.
  • Wikipedia offers a great overview of what business school is, with regards to types of degrees offered, courses, and a history of the field.
  • The Princeton Review delves further, breaking down the B-school curriculum into years one and two. This source has other useful features, including articles about types of MBA programs, finding which program is right for you, and GMAT/GRE testing.
  • Bloomberg is another excellent source! It features more B-school admission tips, program rankings, and financial aid information.
  • Out last source is a thought-provoking post from the Harvard Business Review Blog that questions the role of B-school and business ethics.
Happy reading, CWIB!

The Beginning

Earlier this year as I was scanning my Facebook, a friend’s event popped up on my news feed. As it turned out, she is a member of Stanford Women in Business, a well-founded organization at Stanford University for undergraduates and graduate students to connect with businesswomen (alumnae or not). Their official mission, “to provide the women of Stanford University an opportunity to build a foundation in business and join an encouraging community of aspiring and successful businesswomen” cites several important issues at undergraduate institutions.

After exploring their website and blog, I found myself wondering why Colgate didn’t already have such an organization. In fact, there’s not even a business club at all. With pre-professional programs in engineering, health, and law, to name a few I became increasingly frustrated with the lack of student-organized business activities. I decided to narrow the spectrum by focusing on women at Colgate. This will allow the group to focus on women’s issues in the workplace, as well as spotlighting alumnae and other businesswomen.

As a junior abroad in France, and soon to be a rising senior, I decided that now was the time to make the leap. I emailed friends and family asking for feedback on my idea, and all I heard was yes, yes, yes. As it turned out, I had discovered a wide gap in student organizations and every female student I spoke to was completely on board. I set the idea on the back burner until earlier this summer I started to reach out to friends again and my dear advisor at Career Services, Teresa Olsen, who fully supports the group’s creation. In fact, she has graciously agreed to be the organization’s staff advisor.

The organization will provide organized business education, networking opportunities, and other related activities. The executive board is comprised of six women, all seniors at Colgate, who will run campus and online activities.

Officers: Carly Keller, Chief Executive Officer (Me)

Jenny Large & Markie Cohen, Co-Chief Operations Officers

Isabel Pluck, Chief Financial Officer

Lindsey Brummer, Chief Marketing Officer

Katie McChesney, Chief Communications Officer

I am thrilled to have such talented and dedicated women working alongside me in this endeavor. This fall semester will be particularly exciting for us as we pursue SGA recognition and attempt to execute all of our grand plans!