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BREW: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

BREW is a book review series that serves to perpetuate personal impression of one’s masterpiece.


Sheryl Sandberg with her powerful stories and encouragement for women to Lean In and take control of their career. However, despite the hype, I only enjoyed the first half of the book as the rest of it felt a bit dragging with constant self-promoting (sorry, couldn’t help it!).

Nevertheless, it’s been quite a reading as I found one or two key takeaways that would resonate with me.

Her stories reminds me of my first time being a leader in one of my classes in college. I worked with Eve, an excellent student, who entrusted me to lead our project instead of her. The other team members doubted me as much as I did myself.

But not with Eve. She had a good eye that acknowledged my hidden ambition and hunger for learning more in the project. We weren’t close nor was I good with names, but I’ll never forget hers whose confidence in me helped me build mine.

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”

My self-confidence issues has been the highlight of my life ever since I could remember.

On a sunny day back in 2005, to be exact. I sat on a bench with the look of horror on my face, staring at my laminated certificate. I was counting days to the elementary school graduation and my teachers just announced the Student of the Year list.

This is wrong. This can’t be me. I began to feed my irrational thoughts until I decided to let go of that piece of paper, refused to bring it home. Turns out I wasn’t the only one.

“Women tend to feel fraudulent when they are praised for their accomplishment. Instead of feeling worthy of recognition, they feel undeserving and guilty, as if a mistake has been made.”

Thank you for putting it into words, Sheryl.

Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for women to be known for our gender than our contribution. When doing things right, men usually get the title while we get the noun. “A Female CEO” shall make a better headline than “A Male CEO” does.


As a working mother, Sheryl also experienced the challenges of balancing career and family. It was impossible for her to manage the household on her own—leave alone building a career. Thus, she attributed her success to her loving husband, Dave.

I wish mine were that lucky.

My mother has been working as a full time housewife with three kids for more than twenty five years, doing her best without any day-offs. It took my father a lot of couple fight and therapy sessions to see that her profession required more skillsets and commitment than any other jobs.

Mothers are expected to do everything and be nothing at the same time. Their hard work often goes unrecognized and lacking to do so means dishonor to the family.

“Women find themselves in “damned if they do” or “doomed if they don’t” situation.”

It’s time to have their concern expressed in male voices, too. Because, “We can’t change what we’re unaware of, and once we’re aware, we can’t help but change.”


Sheryl was blessed to have crossed path with amazing and supportive people like Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Meyer, Pattie Sellers, Eric Schmidt, including one of her invaluable mentors, Larry Summers.

I once read that having a shitty job with great mentor is better than a great job with shitty mentor. While there are different interpretations of ‘shitty job’, I understand the importance of having a mentor, especially at the beginning of your career. Who wouldn’t want to have a successful senior figure to spare time for weekly one-on-one session and help you climb the career ladder?

Unfortunately, the search wouldn’t be that easy.

“Finding a Mentor at work is like finding The One. If you have to ask the burning question, ‘Are you my mentor?’ the answer is likely no. When you find the right one, it’s obvious.”

Many jobs allow you to connect with great professionals in daily basis hence increases your chances to meet a potential mentor. This often comes with a duty: putting your truest self on hold as you have company’s reputation to uphold. Or so I’ve been told.

“Forget all-work persona. Always express our truth, talk and explain our personal situations, and acknowledge that professional decisions are often emotionally driven.” Working in an institution doesn’t necessarily stop you from being a human with needs. Take that annual leaves, post those Instagram stories that only stay as drafts because you thought you weren’t allowed to have ‘personal views’.


It’s always easier said than done though. Exploring new career, leaving a toxic relationship, reducing sugar intake… Making changes seems like a big, scary step no matter how small. The haunting doubts of whether you’re taking the right path, the belittling questions from your surrounding. Too many voices to hear, too little courage to take.

“If you feel bothered by others’ choices, perhaps it’s because you’re not completely comfortable with yours. When you want to change things, you can’t please everyone. If you do, then you aren’t making enough progress.”

Many use not-so-supportive environment as an excuse to go back to their comfortable bubble. They quit because it’s hard, not because it doesn’t fit their heart.

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”


“Done is better than perfect.” When you read this post, I managed to publish it after 7 16 revisions and feel satisfied enough. Had I wanted a flawless one, it might’ve taken 50 revisions at the very least—like I used to (lol). Doable but not necessarily notable.

Aim for progression, not perfection. Give yourself a little pat on the back for every effort you made, for every doubt you proved wrong.

Once in a while, lean in for an extra helping hand.

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