A mom is always a mom

No matter how powerful you become in life, no matter how old you are or far from home you travel, mom is still mom. Adele Sandberg reminded me of that when I interviewed her earlier this week before a live audience to kick off the 2013 Book Festival at the David Posnack JCC. Adele is the mother of Sheryl Sandberg, the high powered COO of Facebook and author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Sheryl's book has sold over 1 million copies. She has been on the cover of Time Magazine and on almost every major talk show and news program to discuss the message of her book: gender equality in the workplace.

Yet, when Adele talked about the criticism of the book before it was even published, she spoke like a mother defending her young child(those bad people dared to say something nasty about my daughter!)  And, when she boasted a bit about the book's success and her daughter's work to encourage young women to reach for their dreams, she spoke like a proud mom. It was really quite endearing and put work and life into perspective — for most of us, our parents are our supporters, no matter how old we get.

If you meet Adele and hear her speak, you immediately understand why Sheryl has become so accomplished. The program opened Tuesday night with an appearance from Sheryl via video. In it, she called her mother her inspiration. I can only hope my daughter refers to me that way one day.

Here's the article I wrote, which summed up the evening.

Sandberg’s parents reinforce ‘Lean In’ message


The Sandbergs, Adele, right, and Joel, left, pose with Debbie Hochman, center, director of cultural arts and adult program at the David Posnack JCC, in Davie, Tuesday, at their Jewish Book Festival. The Sandbergs are parents of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, who wrote the popular book Lean In. MARICE COHN BAND / MIAMI HERALD STAFF


As Sheryl Sandberg sweeps the world on her book tour for Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, reaction in every global market has been significant, her mother, Adele Sandberg, told a crowd of more than 250 people at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie Tuesday night.

Sandberg, who lives in Miami Beach and traveled on the tour with her daughter to several U.S. cities, Korea and Japan, said she believes the reason for the book’s success is that the message of female empowerment is universal. “Gender stereotypes persist all over the world. Women are so hungry for an equal chance, even in the most undeveloped countries,” she said. “Wherever Sheryl spoke, the venue was too small.”

In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, encourages women to make their voices heard at the workplace. She writes that she has been called bossy, a term that rarely, if ever, is applied to men in business. “Every country that Sheryl goes to, the word ‘bossy’ exists is in their language, and when Sheryl learns that word and says it in their native language there’s a huge reaction,” Adele told the audience, offering advice to parents: “Don’t call your daughters’ bossy, say ‘my daughter has executive leadership skills.’ ”

Sheryl opened the event Tuesday night, a kickoff of the 2013 Jewish Book Festival, via video calling South Florida “my community,” her mother “my inspiration,” and the lack of equality in leadership at companies worldwide a problem that “hurts all of us.”

Adele called it a risky career move for her daughter to write a book about women in business and said it took courage. Writing this book is Sheryl’s effort to lean in, Adele said. “It’s an important message, and she’s happy for the conversation, negative or positive.” She called the book, which has sold more than a million copies, “a wake-up call.”

“We must pay attention to gender stereotypes and what they are doing in our workplaces and our homes.”

Adele also addressed negotiation style, noting that men can tell their boss they deserve a raise while women who try it are called boastful. Now, she says, women are using Sheryl to fortify their negotiations, “They say Sheryl Sandberg would be disappointed in me if I didn’t ask for a raise,” adding, “Sheryl has CEOs complaining that she is costing them money.”

In the seven months since the book’s debut, the Lean In movement has flourished. There are approximately 250 corporate partners with the Lean In Foundation (large corporations such as Coca Cola, Amazon, Target and small businesses and non-profits). There are 9,000 Lean In circles in 50 states and 50 countries. The book has been translated into 11 languages — with another 19 languages in the process of being translated. Adele noted that as part of the book tour, Sheryl has taken her message to young girls, too, organizing meetings at disadvantaged high schools in cities on the tour where she encourages the girls “to reach for their dreams.”

In response to an audience inquiry, Adele, a former teacher and community activist, addressed the tension between working women and those who stay home to raise their kids. “Sheryl says we have to respect each other’s choices, we have to put a stop to the resentment or guilt and work together.”

At the conclusion, Joel Sandberg joined his wife on stage to share his perspective on Lean In and his thoughts on reaction from men. “The book educated me a lot, even though I have a wife and two daughters who are great achievers. I think men who have the most interest are those with daughters or managers who are concerned with losing talented women.”

Debbie Hochman, director of Cultural Arts at David Posnack Jewish Community Center, said the discussion around Lean In appealed to the audience of all ages. “We saw this as an opportunity to bring the community together to around a topic people are talking about and they can relate to.” Hochman said Adele drove the book’s message home. “You can see that she’s a mom who is proud of what her daughter is doing.”



The Work/Life Balancing Act

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