Monthly Archives: May 2017

Books Sheryl Sandberg Thinks You Should Read

Previous posts have provided the recommended reading lists of Bill Gates ,Elon Musk , Steve Jobs , Warren Buffett , Jeff Bezos , and Mark Zuckerberg. Now I figure it’s time to expand our reading beyond the billionaire boys’ club.

This post consists of books that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recommended in a recent New York Times interview . While she didn’t identify these books as being specifically for women, they all fit well with Sandberg’s own book, Lean In .

1. A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen

Five-Second Summary: A novelist explains her philosophy of life through a series of loosely connected personal observations.

Why You Should Read It: Quindlen’s fictional works center around women’s roles and how they see themselves, so women will find her encouragement and advice about thses topics particularly apt.

Fun Factoid: The core of this book was a commencement address that Quindlen didn’t deliver due to planned protests from anti-abortion activists.

Best Quote: “But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart.”

2. Bossypants by Tina Fey

Five-Second Summary: A talented comedian takes a wry look at life, the media, motherhood, and her career.

Why You Should Read It: Amid the humor, Fey takes on the big issues of women in the workplace, like the glass ceiling and the tendency of men to diss women in meetings.

Fun Factoid: In 2014, Sandberg launched a campaign to ban the word “bossy” to encourage young women to seek more leadership roles.

Best Quote: “My unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: ‘Is this person in between me and what I want to do?’ If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.”

3. Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values by Fred Kofman

Five-Second Summary: How success emerges naturally from holding to and acting on ethical values.

Why You Should Read It: Studies have shown that in the workplace men are more likely than women to act unethically. This book’s redefinition of the role of ethics thus plays to women’s strengths.

Fun Factoid: Sandberg regularly recommends this book to Facebook employees.

Best Quote: “Have you ever driven down the highway on cruise control, engaged in a conversation or daydreaming, only to realize you missed your exit? You didn’t literally lose consciousness, but you dimmed your awareness. Relevant details, such as your location and the actions needed to reach your goal, receded from the forefront of your mind. Your eyes were open, but you didn’t see. This is a poor way to drive—and an even poorer way to live.”

4. Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhoodby Michael Lewis

Five-Second Summary: An unsparing, funny look at fatherhood from a husband’s viewpoint.

Why You Should Read It: Working mothers face many difficulties in the workplace; it helps to know that working fathers struggle too.

Fun Factoid: Lewis is best known for his books about business and finance, such as The Big Short .

Best Quote: “Memory loss is the key to human reproduction. If you remembered what new parenthood was actually like you wouldn’t go around lying to people about how wonderful it is, and you certainly wouldn’t ever do it twice.”

This Entrepreneur Has a Career Lesson for All of us

Hard work. Determination. A willingness to take feedback. A desire to keep learning and improving.

These are career-boosting traits we talk about all the time at The Muse. And sometimes, we’re lucky enough to see them in action.

Last month, I visited Soweto, a township in Johannesburg, South Africa, and met women who had started businesses in their community. It’s one of the poorest parts of the country, with unemployment rates of more than 30%.

One of those women was Gape, the 28-year-old owner of a fast food stand. She wakes up at 2 AM, seven days a week, to bake 150 loaves of bread and prepare the day’s food for her regular customers, mainly men who work at a nearby steel plant during the week. “Their wives are at home, and I like feeding them so they don’t go out and find new wives,” she tells me with a smile.

Her recipe for success is continuing to learn and grow. In the spare time she does have, she’s taken business classes through Coca-Cola’s 5by20 programto improve her skills in inventory management, accounting, and marketing. They’ve helped her business so much that she’s hired three employees and is contemplating a second location.

She also makes a point to listen to her customers. She’s not afraid ofhearing their feedback —instead, she uses it to become a better cook and a smarter business owner. It’s a lesson for anyone who wants to grow: Be humble enough to seek advice from those around you. Even if you’re the woman with the best bread in town, there’s always more to learn.

Mrs. Fields Cookies: How Debbi Fields Built an Empire From Scratch

This article is from our friends at LearnVest , a leading site for women and their money.

When people ask how she turned her cookie recipe into a $450 million company, Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields, likes to say she grew up in an extremely wealthy family.

But since her father made $15,000 per year as a welder for the United States Navy and her mother stayed home raising five children, their wealth wasn’t monetary.

“We made every dollar stretch ,” she remembers. “My father believed that true wealth was found in family, friends, and doing what you love.” Debbi managed to take that advice and build an empire around a lone cookie recipe.

While she no longer manages the day-to-day operations like she did in her original shop in Palo Alto, she is the company’s spokesperson and now working on a book of new cookie recipes to come out next year (yes, we’re excited!) and a television show about mentorship.

Which is why we picked the brain of the real-life Mrs. Fields about the dictionary that changed her life, how to get a business loan , and why good chocolate (and vanilla) is always best.

First of all: Why cookies?

My mother raised five children without the luxuries we have today—like a washer and dryer! Cooking was a chore she especially resented, and that showed in her meals. Since the food wasn’t as great as it could be, I used to refuse to eat. The only thing I was actually willing to eat? Cookies. I would bake my own using imitation chocolate, margarine—nothing real, because we couldn’t afford to have that in the house.

What made you turn your cookies into a business?

I had worked since age 13—as a teen, I worked at a department store and spent my first paycheck on real butter, chocolate, and vanilla—and spent two years in junior college before marrying my first husband. He was trying to start an investment firm. I was a happy housewife.

But one night we went to dinner at the beautiful, intimidating home of one of my husband’s clients. This man asked me, “What do you do?”

“Oh,” I replied, “I’m just trying to get orientated.”

He got up, pulled an enormous, leather-bound dictionary off the shelf, put it in my lap and told me, “The word is oriented . If you can’t speak the English language, you shouldn’t speak at all.”

Incredibly embarrassed, sitting there in his library with tears streaming down my cheeks, I realized I wanted to be somebody . I could hear my father’s voice telling me that wealth was doing what you loved , and what I loved was cookies. So, that night, I gathered myself together and set out to become a somebody.

How did you get from your own kitchen to a bona fide store?

When I broached the idea of turning my cookies into a business, my family thought I was crazy. They told me I didn’t have any money, education, or experience, but hearing them made me only more determined. I started going into banks and asking for a loan. I would bring my business plan and my cookies, and they would look at the plan and eat all of the cookies and tell me, “Thanks, but no.” I started waking up every morning and telling myself, “Somewhere, there’s a person who wants to say yes.”

This was back in the late ’70s. I kept bringing my cookies and sharing my dreams, and finally I managed to get a loan with 21% interest. I was thrilled.

The Gem Behind the Jewelry: lia sophia’s Elena Kiam

Meet Elena Kiam, the Creative Director and style genius behind lia sophia . lia sophia is based on what Elena calls social fashion , where “women get to experiment with jewelry in a judgment-free zone and feel confident and beautiful, all in the company of their closest girlfriends.” Founded in the 1970s, the Kiam family’s jewelry company is now a booming business with millions of devoted customers, over 25,000 entrepreneurial advisors hosting lia sophia parties, and dozens of celebrity fans.And beyond Elena’s traveling for creative stimulation, designing timeless pieces, and inspiring others to start their own businesses , she’s also a devoted wife and mother. Her ability to juggle it all (while remaining impeccably dressed) makes her a role model and style icon for women everywhere.We had the chance to chat with Elena about her career beginnings, design muses, and wardrobe favorites. Find out what inspires the lia sophia looks, plus snag her advice on accessories for every occasion.

How did your career within the design industry get started?

You know how things just kind of come together? I’d like to say that I had this master plan. I didn’t, but when I look back, it is interesting how these various pockets came together.My career began growing up in New York City as one of four girls, and I attended a 12-year all-girls school. After that, I studied architecture and design at Harvard, and took a year off to really learn about business because I thought it’d make me a better architect. I joined JP Morgan and was there for about 16 years, powering private companies and doing corporate finances. Every year that I was there, it made me doubt whether or not I wanted to go back to design—but that was my first love , and from the youngest age I always knew I’d be an artist.When I had my daughter Sophia, I took time off and became a consultant. During that time, I realized I didn’t like working alone, but I liked doing something entrepreneurial. It was then that I was fortunate to get involved with the jewelry company owned by my husband and his family.

Where do you draw your inspiration for each Lia Sophia collection?

Part of what we do is very planned out—we have a design team and four casting agencies that travel all over the globe to go to fashion shows and keep ahead of the trends. Then there’s this other piece that’s less programmed, and that’s more so the inspiration that comes from travel—there’s so much of my inspiration that comes from places and architecture. Like the Red Carpet collection, which is all named after places I’ve been—like Rue Royale, my favorite street in Paris.

When designing the jewelry, do you have any celebrity or style blogger muses?

I wouldn’t say anyone in particular—there’s really not one specific look that we’re after. But we care a lot about the intersection between women feeling strong and professional, because that’s what our women are doing; they’re changing up their lives, becoming empowered, and moving from something maybe not so sufficient to financial freedom .We’re inspired by people like Jeannie Mai : someone who talks about style and cares very much about the notion that when you look beautiful, you feel beautiful and confident enough to handle whatever the world throws at you. That’s really who we are. We like Self for that reason, too.

How would you describe your personal style? What are your closet staples?

When you’re part of lia sophia, you do tend to plan your outfits around your jewelry! I prefer slicker, classic looks where the jewelry is the star. If you looked in my closet, you’d see a lot of black and a lot of white, with pops of color. I’ve traditionally been a black and white girl my whole life, because there’s something very chic about it. There’s been a huge infusion of colorthese past couple of seasons, and I’ve embraced it, but you’ll never find me head to toe in tomato red with yellow.

We absolutely love your style—any style advice for others?

I just think we live in a great age where there are no rules, and it’s all about having your own style, and feeling put together. If you can invest in a few really quality pieces —a beautiful black dress, a beautiful cream top—and just change it up with jewelry, then that gives you 10-20 looks.In our jewelry, we try to create a lot of versatility: Some of our long necklaces can also be worn as belts, some of them have clasps so you can double them up. We think layering is fabulous , so the necklaces, the rings, the bracelets in our collections, everything is going to go together, but it’s not a matched set. We try to give women ways of creating a look that can bechanged up so many times .

Speaking of your signature lia sophia pieces, which ones are your all-time favorite?

I’m a cuff person. Particularly for people who don’t have a lot of time and want to transform themselves, one cuff or even two makes me feel confident and can change any outfit.I have some favorite necklaces and cocktail rings, too. Cocktail rings can change up a boring bland outfit or jeans into a little something that makes you feel dressy and stylish.