Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg may seem like she's always had it all figured out, but that doesn't mean she wouldn't have some words of wisdom to share with her younger self given the opportunity. Sandberg shared those words Tuesday during a Quora Q&A in which she also opened up about her personal life and an early speed bump in her partnership with Mark Zuckerberg.
Her advice to Younger Sheryl:
- Follow your passion and do what you love.
- Believe you can have it all -- a meaningful career and fulfilling personal life.
- Realize that "there is no straight path to where you are going."
These suggestions may make success sound almost too easy, but Sandberg has some practical pointers on how achieve your goals.
First, have a long-term dream in mind. "It doesn't have to be realistic or even specific," she says. You just need some idea that gives you a sense of direction. Second, have an 18-month plan. In setting goals as part of this plan, "ask yourself how you can improve and what you're afraid to do," she says. About that thing you're afraid of: "That's usually the thing you should try."
Beyond tips for achieving success, Sandberg dished about work at Facebook. In one response, she talked about joining the youthful hacker-centric company as an experienced tech executive in 2008. She recalled how a pre-fatherhood Mark Zuckerberg had been naive about how the realities of parenthood impacted Sandberg's schedule.
"One night as Mark and I were considering working together, I called Mark at 9 p.m. He said he was at a dinner and asked if he could call later so I told him I'd be up for another 30 minutes. The next morning he reached out asking if I was feeling OK; he assumed that I'd been sick since I went to bed at 9:30 p.m.," she wrote. "I explained that with two young children, 9:30 p.m. was often my normal bed time. I love that Mark is now experiencing parenthood first hand. I don't think he yet has a 9:30 bedtime, but maybe one day he will."
Parenthood isn't the only area where Sandberg has seen Zuckerberg grow up, so to speak. In another response, she praised the CEO for how he has made Facebook a better place to work recently.
"Mark has done a really good job improving the efficiency of meetings at Facebook this year. He asks people to send materials in advance so we can use the time for discussion and we try to be clear about our goal when we sit down for a meeting -- are we in the room to make a decision or to have a discussion?" she wrote.
Sandberg also opened up about how Facebook as a platform has helped her cope with the loss of her husband, Dave Goldberg. She described how she believes enabling sharing of support of sympathy is a core goal of the platform, and a key motivator for her as an executive of the company.
"When I lost my husband suddenly and unexpectedly in May, I felt very isolated -- I shared on Facebook and the support of strangers and friends made a huge difference. Recovering from loss is a huge part of the human condition and by connecting with people on Facebook, I was reminded that I was part of that global community. Anything you experience, no matter how tragic or devastating, is something that other people are also going through. There's something universal about the ability to connect and share and say to someone else, 'It gets better,' " she wrote.