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March 18th, 2013
11:13 AM ET

Facebook's Sandberg: The role of men in the 'Lean In' discussion

EDITOR’S NOTE: Watch part two of Soledad O'Brien's interview with Sheryl Sandberg on "Starting Point" at 8:30a a.m. ET on Tuesday, March 19th.

There has been much debate over a controversial new book written by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. It's called "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead." The book is filled with advice encouraging women to be leaders in the workplace and rid themselves of the stereotypes that hold them back. Some critics say, though, that Sandberg's is unrealistic for women who are trying to balance work and family.

Also this morning, Sandberg has written an opinion piece for CNN.com titled "Speak up, believe in yourself, take risks." She writes that "by talking openly about the challenges that women face in the workplace and at home, we can work towards solutions together. We can't ignore the subject any longer. We need to listen, talk and listen, debate, learn, evolve, and take action."

Soledad O'Brien had a chance to sit down with Sandberg in Facebook's New York office. After the jump below, find out what she had to say about the controversy surrounding her book and how men can help women "lean in" in their careers.

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Filed under: Lean In • Sheryl Sandberg
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
07:52 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:

“PROCEED AND BE BOLD.”

proceedandbeboldcropped

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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