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Reporter’s Notebook: Facebook’s Sandberg delivers a noble message in a complicated conversation
CNN's Soledad O'Brien sits down with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to talk about the reaction to her book "Lean In."
March 15th, 2013
10:30 AM ET

Reporter’s Notebook: Facebook’s Sandberg delivers a noble message in a complicated conversation

Editor's Note: Watch Soledad O'Brien's interview with Sheryl Sandberg on "Starting Point" at 7 a.m. ET on Monday, March 18th and Tuesday, March 19th.

By Soledad O'Brien, "Starting Point" anchor

When you walk into Facebook’s New York City office, you get a sweeping loft-like feeling from a beautiful courtyard with big open windows in the very modern Bank of America building on Madison Ave. You’re also faced with a message in massive red letters that you can only read at a distance:

“PROCEED AND BE BOLD.”

proceedandbeboldcropped

I was there for my sit-down interview with Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer. She walks me over to the wall of windows with red letters to make it clear that the message is the ethos of the social media company.

Sandberg is wearing a navy and red dress, with a dark navy cardigan, and comes across as professional and personable. She had just rushed from another interview with CNN sister company Fortune magazine. You may have also seen her in one of her other zillion interviews this week, with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” or on the cover of “TIME” magazine.

As we prepare for the interview, she tells me she doesn’t enjoy the process of talking about herself, and admits she finds it to be a bit of a struggle. But the struggle must be worth it, because Sandberg’s message is gaining traction as a result of her book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” which was released on Monday.

The advice in “Lean In” is best when used to guide young women. In the book, Sandberg writes that women should strive to close the ambition gap with men, and to become leaders early in their careers to allow them flexibility later on.

“ 'Lean In' is not about fixing women,” she tells me. “'Lean In' is about all of us coming together to understand the stereotypes that are holding women back and fix them.”

However, that’s not how many have interpreted Sandberg’s points.

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Filed under: Gender • History • How we live • Women
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