So, I watched this interesting video of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk and it sent me into paroxysms of ambivalence. In it, she discusses what women can do to further their careers and make it to the “C-suite.” Her advice, which basically boils down to “stick up for yourself and be more aggressive,” is undoubtedly helpful to reach that goal.
Sandberg lodges the rightful complaint that success and likability generally correlate directly for men and inversely for women. That certainly sucks, but I stop short of saying “hey, since I like the male CEO, I should make an effort to like the female CEO too!” because, frankly, I don’t like the male CEO either. He probably made it up there by being a pushy, self-promoting douche. To climb to the top echelons, you have to spend a lifetime in board rooms out-assholing a bunch of assholes. It sounds exhausting and kind of sad. Even the word “C-suite” is kind of gross. The more time I spend alive, the more suspicious I am of the very idea of success. Look at those painful binding stiletto devices Sandberg has on her feet while she gives her talk. If she were a man? Why, she’d be wearing a silk noose. Scarcely better.
She also has an intensely American pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps approach to the whole problem. She harbors a clear belief that if you have talent and you want something bad enough, you can have it. Given that I have actually managed to sell a novel to a major publishing house, it would certainly flatter my self-esteem to espouse that belief. But, I guess I am a typical chick, because I don’t particularly believe that I managed to get where I am with the power of my sheer awesomeness. I’ll tell you right now what success is made of–so if you want to make it to the C-suite, get a pen:
- circumstance. Largely what social class you are born into. What you can do about it: come out of the right vagina.
- luck. Right time right place. What you can do about it: hahahahahaha. Nothing.
- drive. How many times you are willing to get punched in the face by life to get your cookie and/or how many people you are willing to push aside to get your punches/cookies. What you can do about it: I don’t know. Numb yourself with drugs or something.
- talent. Don’t get too excited, because this is a distant fourth. What you can do about it: You can work real hard to cultivate whatever talent you were given. If you have enough drive. But this will be no great help if luck chooses not to strike.
So, get cracking. Start by coming out of the right vagina.