Jesse Draper, also known as The Valley Girl, recently interviewed Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on her show. The video is embedded above (via AllThingsD). Make sure to skip the horrible introduction (not only is it agonizingly long, but even the word "business" is misspelled). Seriously, start from the 30 second mark. Here's a quick rundown of what was said.
In the first half, Sandberg informally talks about her work-life balance and how women need to try harder to get into high-profile executive roles. It's great stuff, but it's nothing particularly new. In the second half of the interview, she talks about Facebook. Let me go backwards for a second, so I can save the best for last.
At the end, Draper gets a tour the Facebook office. Right before, Sandberg tells her to look at the posters:
You should check out the posters. Our culture is really embodied in these posters. The culture is about doing things, shipping product. So we have these great posters: 'What would you do if you weren't afraid?' 'Done is better than perfect.' 'We're 1 percent of the way there.' These great cultural posters, that I think, as often as I see them, serve a reminder to me, to keep reaching.
Before that, Draper asks Sandberg how to convince her mother to join Facebook. Sandberg declares that Facebook is "whatever you want it to be" – some people have thousands of friends and share everything publicly while others have a handful of friends and share everything privately.
At about the 8:00 minute mark, Draper asks "What are you the most excited about right now, at Facebook?" Sandberg obviously isn't going to talk about a new feature or anything like that, so she answers by talking about the impact the social network is having. Then she dives into a personal story she experienced on Facebook "just last week":
My grandmother passed away. She was 94. She'd been sick for a long time. I wrote a Facebook post. I wrote basically what I would have written as her obituary. I wasn't sure how broadly to share it. You know, I have my friends and I have some subscribed people. You don't know all of those people if they're following you – I don't have a tremendous number but I have some. At first I posted it just to Friends. Then I thought: 'Maybe I should post this publicly?' You know, obituaries were always public. They were in the newspaper. This is my newspaper.' So I posted it publicly. Then I thought: 'Well maybe this is too personal." And I changed the privacy, which we allow you to do, and I put it back to Friends. Then I'm like: "No, no, no. This is the obituary. We're not putting one in the newspaper. I'm going to do this.' I posted it to Public and I left it. Maybe 24 hours later I had literally thousands of Likes and hundreds of comments. I read every single one. I think a death in your family is always kind of lonely. I read these people's comments and some of them I had never met and I will never meet, but they were writing about their grandmothers, or their grandparents. It made me feel connected to people in a time when I really needed that connection. Even for me at Facebook, there are these moments that really surprise me, with how much impact we can have on people's lives, even on my own. That feels great.
For the record, at the time of writing, Sandberg had over 300,000 subscribers. She just got another one, because I figured, "hey, why not?"
I very much enjoyed Sandberg's story. In fact, I wanted to go check out the obituary she referenced. So I went over to facebook.com/sheryl but to my dismay, I couldn't find it.
I figured that even though Valley Girl's interview was uploaded this week, it could have been recorded a while ago. So I decided to scroll through Sandberg's Timeline, because that's one of the advantages of the new profile: content doesn't get buried. Sure enough, I found it. It was posted on November 4, 2011:
Today my family celebrated the life of my grandmother, Rosalind Einhorn (8/28/1917 – 11/1/2011), and laid her to rest next to her beloved husband of 65 years, Benjamin.
Grandma Roz was a woman to be reckoned with. Grew up in real poverty – scrubbed floors in the boarding house where she lived as a child, pulled out of school in high school by her parents to help support the family and then forced back in by a local teacher, eventually got to community college and graduated from Berkeley. Raised three children, including my Mom, Adele Sandberg, and was the proud grandmother of 7 grandchildren, David Sandberg, Michelle Sandberg, David Einhorn, Heather Einhorn, and Sam Einhorn, and 14 great-grandchildren. Survived breast cancer in her 40s and lived to be 94. Not the typical dotting Jewish grandmother, but a woman who spoke the truth and had the most strength of everyone around her, including the ability to save the family from financial ruin when their business was failing in the 1970s. She was one of the most capable people anyone ever met – a tireless fundraiser for breast cancer detection, an active volunteer in her community, and the person everyone turned to for help in every crisis. In another era, when girls had more opportunity, I can only imagine what else she would have accomplished.
I was born on her birthday and she was the role model I always strive to live up to. Grandma – thank you for your endless love and for the example you set of a life worth living.
At the time of writing, it had over 2,800 Likes and over 150 comments. I'm not sure if the interview really was recorded two months ago, or if Sandberg simply defaulted to saying "last week" because it was easier, but either way, there it is.
I think there are those who hate Facebook and leave forever, but there are also those who keep finding a use for it, even though the service is far from perfect. Facebook has already had quite an impact on the world, but if you can believe it, I think the big stuff is yet to come.
- Russians use Facebook to protest alleged election fraud
- Via Facebook: NATO Commander reveals plans to end Libya mission
- McCain: Mark Zuckerberg is the most popular man in the Middle East
- Mother beats son for having a Facebook account
- Facebook status update alerts police of murder-suicide