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“What Would You Do if You Weren’t Afraid?” asks Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

May 21st, 2011 No comments

We’ve all heard the saying before. That to be great, you have to pursue your biggest passions. Those seemingly impossible goals that come to mind in your bravest moments. Those game-changing ideas you want to pursue when you feel like you’re on top of the world. But also those ideas that fleet faster than the blink of an eye, when the notion of fear takes over. Well, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, discussed some of those same topics in a recent talk she gave.

In a recent graduation talk at Barnard, Sheryl Sandberg, addressed this very topic. That professionals, specifically women, need to think big when they are thinking about their careers. And although her talk was specifically directed at the graduating women, many of its principles can be applied more broadly.

Sandberg talked about her experience at Facebook, and some of the lessons she learned there. She noted that one thing she learned working with great entrepreneurs (Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Google) “was that if you want to make a difference, you have to think big and dream big, right from day one.” And that at Facebook, they try to keep employees thinking this way all day. She noted the posters around the walls, used to motivate employees. One of them said, “Fortune favors the bold.” The other asked, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Broadly speaking, the idea was this. If you don’t shoot for the stars, you’ll never know what you’re capable of.  You’ll never have the chance to write the screenplay. Or create a groundbreaking documentary. Start your own company. Or take part in changing the world. And she said that the message rings true for everyone, especially those with more to lose from failure.

This same question also echoes in the halls of Kellogg. Especially now, as graduation is lingering and students are thinking not only about their jobs after school, but also about their long term career goals. Will they risk it all to be great and to impact the world? Or will they take the route that provides more stability?

In an event with my former company, Bottlenotes, last night, CEO, and entrepreneur extraordinaire, Alyssa Rapp said it best. She said, “You have to be brave.”

Well, I agree with Alyssa and I agree with Sheryl that you have to be brave. Furthermore, I challenge all of my readers (and myself) not be afraid. And instead to go where no one has gone before. To try something you’ve never done before. And to risk it all to do something big.

In the words of Sheryl at the very end of her speech: “Ask yourself, what would I do if I weren’t afraid? And then go do it.”

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For the best parts of the speech, I recommend you watch 16:00 until the end.

Also, for more information about Alyssa Rapp and my trip to the Bottlnotes event in 2010, CLICK HERE.

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