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:



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
December 7th, 2012
05:00 AM ET

Soledad O'Brien: Who is black in America? I am

Editor's Note: In today’s United States, is being black determined by the color of your skin, by your family, by what society says, or something else? Soledad O’Brien reports “Who Is Black in America?” on CNN at 8 p.m. ET/PT this Sunday, December 15. 

By Yaba Blay and Soledad O'Brien, CNN

(CNN) - Yaba Blay, Ph.D. created the (1)ne Drop Project, a multiplatform endeavor that hopes to challenge perceptions of black identity. Blay, a consulting producer for "Who Is Black in America?" spoke to hundreds of those who may not immediately be recognized as "black" based on how they look, including CNN Anchor Soledad O'Brien.  In this edited excerpt from her forthcoming book, Blay spoke to O'Brien about what makes a person black, and why the conversation is important.

Yaba Blay: How do you identify? Racially and culturally?

Soledad O'Brien: I’m black. I’m Latina. My mom is Cuban. Afro-Cuban. My dad is white and Australian. And I think because of my job, often a question like "How do you identify?" is really not about the question. It’s always "What side are you on?" "What perspective do you bring?" FULL POST

July 28th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Olympic boxer fights to inspire

Editor's Note: On Saturday, Soledad O’Brien introduces you to a Latina boxer about to face the fight of her life as she attempts to make her Olympic dreams a reality. CNN’s Latino in America: In Her Corner, Saturday night at 11 Eastern.

By Soledad O’Brien and Rose Arce, CNN

(CNN) - Marlen Esparza is in London, literally preparing for the fight of her life.

A working-class girl from Texas, she has been training as a boxer since she was 12. Now, at 23, she is about to be among the first women to box at the Olympic Games. Marlen is a 5-foot-3, 112-pound flyweight, a first generation American.

She never expected to become a role model.

Yet, today she is in Spanish-language advertisements for McDonald’s and Coke, representing some of the most well-known American institutions.

“My kids saw her in the McDonald’s ads and they were like ‘wow, she’s a big deal,’” said Dalila Esparza, her sister and best friend, who has four young children. “This is really big in the community.”

Marlen also has sponsorships from Cover Girl and Nike, and the notoriety of being the six-time national champion of the only Olympic sport that didn’t allow women until now.

But fame in the Latino community was a surprise.

“I never thought about it that much,” she told us when we met more than a year ago. “But as time goes on I realize how important this is.”

Marlen speaks very little Spanish and has never been to Mexico. She lives in Houston, where Latinos are nearly 40% of the estimated 2 million residents.

Being Latina was never something she’d given much thought. FULL POST

October 31st, 2011
02:41 PM ET

Opinion: O'Brien: Michael Arrington is right (about one thing)

Editor's note: Anchor and Special Correspondent Soledad O'Brien reports for CNN's documentary series, In America."Black in America: The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley" airs at 8 p.m., 11 p.m., and 2 a.m. ET on February 11 and February 12.

Michael Arrington thinks there should be more effort made to improve diversity in Silicon Valley. I agree. But that important message is being drowned out by a heated online debate.

In July, I interviewed Arrington for my upcoming documentary, "Black in America: The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley," which chronicles the journey of eight African-American tech entrepreneurs trying to succeed in Silicon Valley.

Arrington founded the influential blog TechCrunch, which since 2005 has covered the tech startup environment. He's also a venture capitalist, helping fund tech entrepreneurs. And he has written previously that he believes Silicon Valley is a meritocracy.

Last week, we held three advance screenings of portions of the documentary. Arrington's comments, featured in those screenings - which very few have seen, including Arrington - sparked some criticism on social media.

Read Soledad O'Brien's commentary

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Filed under: Documentaries • Ethnicity • Race • Technology • What we think