New Billionaire Sheryl Sandberg: What We Can Learn From Her

Getty Images It's official: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, 44, is a billionaire — one of the youngest females ever to reach that status — thanks to a spike in the value of shares of the social networking site on Tuesday, according to a ranking from Bloomberg. But it's not just Sandberg's achievements at Facebook that earned her a top spot on the billionaire list. With the publication last year of her best-selling book, "Lean In," Sandberg has inspired a generation of women to gun for success in the office, gender biases be damned. Here are 10 of Sandberg's most valuable career lessons.

Don't fear the unknown: During an ABC News/Yahoo Newsmakers interview in March, Sandberg shared a humbling moment from a meeting with her future boss. Back in 2001, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt offered her a job with a vague description. When Sandberg questioned the terms, Schmidt balked. "First he said, 'Sheryl, don't be an idiot.' Which is excellent career advice," said Sandberg. "But the next thing he said was, 'If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, get on, don't ask what seat.' I tell people in their careers, 'Look for growth. Look for the teams that are growing quickly. Look for the companies that are doing well. Look for a place where you feel that you can have a lot of impact.'"

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Trying to please everyone won't get results: Performance reviews are nerve-wracking for anyone, and during the ABC News/Yahoo Newsmakers interview, Sandberg shared an eye-opening experience from her own review with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. "He said, 'Sheryl, your biggest problem is — you're trying to please everyone all the time. You're trying not to say anything that anyone objects to. You don't make change in the world, you don't have impact in the world unless you're willing to say things that not everyone will like.' Really important advice for me," admitted Sandberg, who added that women tend to be disliked the higher they move up at work. However, embracing unpopularity is simply part of being the boss.

Success is a self-fulfilling prophecy: In October 2012, Sandberg jumped into a Q&A session on the social networking site Quora to share her thoughts on how women can best enter the tech field. "The key thing is to believe in your own abilities," she wrote. "Studies show that women often underestimate their own abilities, which holds them back from taking on the challenges that help any of us achieve our potential. Stereotype threat — the phenomenon that if people are aware of a stereotype they are more likely to act in accordance with it — is a real issue for girls in science, math, and technology. Girls don't think they can do well, and therefore they don't. (This is why girls often do better in these subjects at all-girls schools.) If women believe they can succeed in tech, they will."

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Your love life is equally as important as your career: At the 2011 IGNITION conference in New York, Sandberg made this controversial statement: "The most important career choice you'll make is who you marry. I have an awesome husband, and we're 50/50." She added that having the support of one's partner plays a huge role in the success of women. It makes sense — if one partner doesn't support the other's job relocation or isn't willing to pitch in around the house more so his or her spouse can work late, that dynamic can hinder both a marriage and a career.

Confident little girls grow up to be female leaders: When Sandberg appeared on an episode of "60 Minutes" in 2013, she shared her thoughts on the subtle ways a woman's confidence is diminished — a process that often begins in childhood. "I want every little girl who someone says 'they're bossy' to be told instead, 'you have leadership skills' because I was told that and because every woman I know who's in a leadership position was told that," said Sandberg. Smart advice to parents everywhere.

Work-life balance is crucial: In her book, "Lean In," Sandberg described her golden work rule, saying that she always leaves the office at 5:30 p.m. to be home in time for dinner with her husband and two children. Her comments stirred controversy, in part because, unlike the average employee, Sandberg's executive status allows her to set her own schedule, but her advice had subtext: Women who don't separate the office and home are overworked and starved for family time.

Speak up for what you want: Career opportunities don't always present themselves on a silver platter; paying attention to office politics and lending support to an area that's lacking are smart ways to achieve a goal. In "Lean In," Sandberg wrote, "Increasingly, opportunities are not well defined but, instead, come from someone jumping in to do something. That something then becomes his job."

You're more qualified than you think: According to a 2008 Hewlett-Packard study, women tend to apply for a job if they believe they meet 100 percent of the criteria. Men, on the other hand, will apply if they believe they're only 60 percent qualified, Sandberg writes in her book,"Lean In." The lesson: If you're applying for a job you're not entirely confident about, go for it anyway. If it's truly a fit, the responsibilities may be molded to suit your skill set.

No one "has it all": Achieving wild success in one area of life is bound to create some tension in another. It's nearly impossible to kick butt at work, cook a delicious dinner, spend quality time with family, and catch eight hours of sleep — at least all the time, anyway. In her "Myth of Doing It All" chapter, Sandberg quotes Dr. Laura Glimcher, dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, who admits to slacking on doing laundry in order to give 100 percent to her job. "I had to decide what mattered and what didn't and I learned to be a perfectionist in only the things that mattered," Glimcher said. Too true!

Not everyone is a CEO, and that's all right:
While she's hailed for her successes, Sandberg is adamant that being an executive is not for everyone. In her 2011 commencement speech at Barnard College in New York City, she urged women to follow their hearts, not outside expectations. "Of course not everyone wants to jump into the workforce and rise to the top," she said. "Life is going to bring many twists and turns, and each of us, each of you, have to forge your own path. I have deep respect for my friends who make different choices than I do, who choose the really hard job of raising children full-time, who choose to go part-time, or who choose to pursue more nontraditional goals. These are choices that you may make someday, and these are fine choices."

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