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Yes, Sheryl Sandberg is Bossy!

Based on the limited interviews that I’ve listened to and the bits and pieces I’ve read in her book, I have enough information to conclude without any shred of doubt that Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, is indeed bossy. What qualifies me to make the statement? It is that, like most CEOs, an important aspect of my job is to identify great talent, nurture them and keep them happy.

I will first define how I and most people define bossy. Based on that definition, I think the average person and certainly 99.9% of people who have worked directly for Sheryl (including Mark Zuckerberg) will agree that she is bossy.

The question is not whether Sheryl Sandberg is bossy, but rather whether as a bossy female people react to her differently. The larger question that I’ve not seen asked in relation to Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean in: Women, work, and the will to lead,” is whether or not society and corporate America react differently to non-whites, minorities, or females who are bossy than to white American men.

First, let’s define what is meant by bossy.

Most psychologists agree that by the time someone is 10 or 12 years old, their personality is set. I’ve heard some people say that it might even be between 0 and 1 year old. For my children, I believe that they had their personality set before they were born (so my own non-scientific estimate is that personality is set between egg-fertilization and 1 year old). Personality is probably a combination of genetics, or attributes that are innate, and the environment (nurture). If you asked Sheryl’s sibling based on the wedding toast recounted in the book, my guess would be that they would say, “Sheryl has always been bossy and she was born like that.”

Most assessments, or at least the ones I use in the corporate world, use four dimensions to define someone’s personality. These assessments include DISC profile, XT profile, Culture Index ( or Myers-Briggs. I have a bias for using DISC in combination with Culture Index. The four dimensions are: 1) dominance, 2) social interaction (e.g., introversion versus extroversion), 3) time reactive/pace (for example whether someone is patient, or likes single versus multiple tasks) and 4) conformity (someone who likes rules, norms or authority).

Here is my composite sketch of Ms. Sandberg:

Sheryl has a high dominance personality. In terms of a personality trait, her dominance is likely to be in the 90th to 99th percentile. Here are adjectives that she would agree describe her:

1) Dominance
• Ambitious
• Strong willed
• Direct
• Determined
• Decisive
• Competitive
• Inquisitive
• Forceful
(I am tempted to put here egocentric/narcissistic, but it is not as negative as it sounds and I would have too much explaining to do.)

2) Social Interactions
• Confident
• Logical
• Convincing

3) Pace
• Inpatient
• Change oriented
• Frustrated by status quo

4) Conformity
• Own person
• Opinionated
• Independent
• Rigid
• Firm

How does someone with that kind of composite profile act on the job?

They are comfortable in taking initiatives, they expect and demand that things get done on their timeline (which some might perceive as unrealistic), they don’t have a problem questioning assumptions or why things are done a certain way, they are inquisitive (they like to look under the hood for the details; just because you say it is so or that everyone agrees with you is not enough), they are direct (they will tell it like it is)… Most people would consider someone with the composite profile I describe and the behaviors they manifest to be domineering or bossy.

Let’s be clear that the composite sketch above does not apply to everyone or to every female. You have bossy people who are male, female, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, from privileged or humble background. While you don’t have to be domineering or bossy to be in a leadership position or to be a good leader, there is no doubt in my mind that in corporate America leadership positions are dominated by those who have what we call a domineering or D personality. I personally believe that for an organization to succeed, it does need to have D personalities on board (you also want them on your sales team).

Sheryl seems to make the point that people react to women in leadership differently. My argument is that in reality, people react differently to women who are bossy or domineering. You are more likely to see women with D personality being referred to as a “b_tch” or an “arrogant b_tch.” It is unfair (and sad!!!) to create a stereotypical expectation for the female leader (for example as a motherly figure) compared to a male counterpart. I have heard in the workplace women express a preference to have a male boss compared to a female boss. Female leaders are equally less accepted (or perhaps more so) by other females.

Corporate America or society doesn’t just react negatively to women with D personalities (or bossy women); the same can be said of racial minorities. For example, a black male with a D personality would have to worry about not being seen as an “arrogant black man” or an “angry black man” in the workplace. I suspect that minorities (gender or ethnic based) in leadership positions who have a D personality probably have to censor themselves because of the lack of acceptance.

Yes, Ms. Sheryl Sandberg according to most peoples’ definitions, you are bossy. I don’t have a problem with that. In fact, I’m always on the lookout for people with your personality. People with your personality can be key to an organization’s success, whatever their gender or ethnicity. It is sad that our society in general, the workplace, corporate boards and leaders of organizations are not more welcoming of these personalities.

P.S. Sheryl if you read this post, I would be happy to work with you. It doesn’t matter who is the boss because we would be bossing each other just like you boss Mark Zuckenberg. I know that Facebook is probably leasing you for no more than 5 years. If you ever decide to go into politics, I’d be happy to run your campaign.

P.S.S. Mr. Zuckerberg, if you read this post you are indeed leasing someone like Sheryl. She will become bored after 5 years…unless you could create a vision and challenge beyond what Facebook is. I can help with that.

April 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm 2 comments

Message to the GOP: How You Can Broaden Your Tent

ClintEastwoodGOP_empty chair

Lately, it seems that the GOP has been doing some soul searching. Gov. Jindal of Louisiana, a few days ago, said the party needs to stop being the “stupid” party. John Boehner, the speaker of the house, said the president wanted to annihilate the GOP.

Mr. Boehner, with all due respect the GOP has been annihilating itself; you would think the party did not care about winning. I think the party is destroying itself so badly that it’s no longer a fair fight. Although I’m a registered Democrat because I believe in good competition, I felt that I might help by giving you a grand strategy that will appeal to both Republicans and Democrats.
Well, the strategy is simple. The GOP has the edge when it comes to economic policy. Consistently, when the American public is asked who they trust to create jobs, they choose the GOP. The GOP is also more trusted in general when it comes to protecting the nation, but I don’t think it’s a strong card now (I’ll come back to that later).

The one and only message, a unifying cry, for the GOP should be: “We are the party of opportunity.” Senator Cruz suggested that “Every Republican should have tattooed on their arm to read in every speech: growth and opportunity.” I would go further and Keep It Simple Stupid. I am talking to you, “stupid” party: Reduce the message to one word “opportunity.”

Imagine this, the Republican message could be summed up as “Democrats are good guys, but they have the wrong policies. They believe in sending some crumbs from the rich to those who are less fortunate, while we want to give everyone in America the opportunity to achieve their dreams. Whether it is to become a small business owner, buy a house, give your kids an education to become a doctor, lawyer or the next Barack Obama, we want to create an environment where you can create that opportunity for yourself.”

Here is how this would translate in policies in four areas:

1) Economic Opportunity
You shouldn’t be afraid to back away from workfare instead of welfare policies. By the way, many in the black community and other minority groups don’t believe in welfare policies either. Do go to the inner cities to talk about policies such as tax credit or public-private partnerships to encourage entrepreneurship and investment that will lead to job creations. If we can provide assistance to other countries to help in economic development, shouldn’t we do the same for our own troubled areas that in some cases resemble third world countries?

2) Safety
Have you heard a credible proposal from the democrats on how they will improve safety in the inner cities? I haven’t. Don’t you think that Black and Latino parents in areas with high crimes care as much about the safety of their kids as parents in the suburbs? This is not just talking about how many young Black kids are being killed by guns in Chicago to score political points, but about providing solutions. After all, every American deserves to live in a safe environment where they have the opportunity to pursue the right endowed by their Creator to pursue happiness. (If you don’t believe me that you can win on the safety issue, talk to Brett Schundler who was the Republican mayor of Jersey City from 1992 to 2001).

3) Education
Education is the most common path to climbing the social ladder and achieving the American dream. There is no talking about opportunity without addressing giving every K-12 student a decent enough education to go to college and the ability to afford college if their parents can’t afford it. This means voting against Pell grants to deserving college students is a bad idea. Yes, I do agree that colleges will increase tuition artificially if they know Uncle Sam will foot the bill. But, there are creative ways to address this, such as by making schools where tuitions rise much faster than the cost of inflation ineligible for any federal funds (including research grants).

4) Immigration
Finally, you have to open the door of opportunity to those young illegal immigrants who love America and, through no faults of their own, find themselves in legal limbo. No rhetoric on amnesty will do. It will only continue to make the GOP seen as mean and insensitive.

On the defense or protecting America issue, don’t bother. The killing of Osama Bin Laden guarantees that Democrats own this issue so long as President Barack Obama is in power. There is no point in attacking the president on the left as Mitt did in the last election. Not only is it shameless, but it will not work. Most Americans don’t have any problems in using drones to go after terrorists wherever they may be and don’t want to destroy a country through war and then get in the business of nation building.

What about abortions, guns or gay marriage? Stay on message. If you want to be the party of opportunity, you are the party for all Americans. Everyone will understand that you don’t have time to focus on these divisive issues. (You could blame the Democrats for using them).

Well, my GOP friends, I’ve tried my best to even the playing field, but I’m not holding my breath that you will follow my advice. If you do become the party of opportunity, count me in. I arrived in the US as a young Haitian immigrant whose mother was earning $3.35 per hour (minimum wage) in 1989. America has given me the opportunity to create a better life for myself by getting a world class education and then founding a business that made it twice to the Inc 500 of fastest growing companies in the US. I want to leave to the next generation that same America where opportunity still exists for those who are part of the 47%.

January 27, 2013 at 3:40 pm Leave a comment

The greatest gift to your children: self-discipline

“The profile of a wealthy person is this: hard work, perseverance, and most of all, self-discipline.  The average wealthy person has lived all his adult life in the same town.  He’s been married once and is still married.  He lives in a middle-class neighborhood next to people with a fraction of his wealth.  He’s a compulsive saver and investor, and he’s made his money on his own.  Eighty percent of America’s millionaires are first-generation rich.  (Doesn’t sound to me like opportunity is dead.)” Zig Ziglar (Bolded for emphasis)

One of the greatest gift a parent can give a child is not money, education or discipline; it is self-discipline. Too many parents focus on discipline to raise their kids while not realizing that discipline can go against the very grain of self-discipline. What is discipline in the context of a parent-child relationship? In that context, I define discipline as a form of punishment to make a child stop engaging in a negative or counterproductive behavior. I’m thinking specifically of punishments to encourage good behaviors such as no wathcing TV or no cell phone use for behavior such as not doing homework.

On the other hand, I define self-discipline as willingly doing what is needed to achieve a long term goal. Why is it that we don’t want our kids to smoke? Because we know it could cause long term health issues such as cancer. Why do we want them to choose homework over play if they only have time for homework? We could think of the skill being taught in that case as giving priority to school work to get good grades. The long lasting skill here is the ability to prioritize to defer short term pleasure for a more worthwhile goal. When a parent has to take the phone away so a kid can focus on an important test the next day, that is discipline. When a kid realizes that the only way to concentrate and prepare for the test is to turn that phone off and do it, that is self-discipline.

Why is teaching self-discipline so important? The simple reason is this. First, every self-disciplined person that I know happen to be very successful. It is so true that I can confidently say show me someone who is self-disciplined and I will show you someone who will be successfull (where I define success as the ability to reach one’s personal goals).

December 6, 2012 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

What is the top?

Last week, Zig Ziglar who was one of the motivators that had the most influence on me past away. In particular, I highly “Over the Top” which I have read and re-read several times. In honor of Zig Ziglar, throughout the month of December I will share some thoughts, concept or perhaps experience that derive directly from this book. To start-off, here is the list given by Zig on how you might know if you are at the top.

You are at the top:

  1. You clearly understand that failure is an event, not a person; that yesterday ended last night, and today is your brand-new day.
  2. You have made friends with your past, are focused on the present, and optimistic about your future.
  3. You know that success (a win) doesn’t make you, and failure (a loss) doesn’t break you.
  4. You are filled with faith, hope, and love; and live without anger, greed, guilt, envy, or thoughts of revenge.
  5. You are mature enough to delay gratification and shift your focus from your rights to your responsibilities.
  6. You know that failure to stand for what is morally right is the prelude to being the victim of what is criminally wrong.
  7. You are secure in who you are, so you are at peace with God and in fellowship with man.
  8. You have made friends of your adversaries, and have gained the love and respect of those who know you best.
  9. You understand that others can give you pleasure, but genuine happiness comes when you do things for others.
  10. 10. You are pleasant to the grouch, courteous to the rude, and generous to the needy.
  11. 11. You love the unlovable, give hope to the hopeless, friendship to the friendless, and encouragement to the discouraged.
  12. 12. You can look back in forgiveness, forward in hope, down in compassion, and up with gratitude.
  13. 13. You know that “he who would be the greatest among you must become the servant of all.”
  14. 14. You recognize, confess, develop, and use your God-given physical, mental, and spiritual abilities to the glory of God and for the benefit of mankind.
  15. 15. You stand in front of the Creator of the universe, and He says to you, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

I was first exposed to Zig Ziglar and another influential motivator Denis Waitley (“Seeds of Greatness”) when I was going through a tough time: pregnant wife and deciding if I should pursue graduate school or find a professional job or several odd jobs together to take care of my young family.

Zig Ziglar’s book gave me the fortitude to keep soldiering on and to dare to think big despite the present circumstances that I was facing. What I was able to get from the book was that I could go from survival to success. However, at that time I was not in a position to get the other part of his message that one should aim beyond success to significance.  He planted the seed for me to get the message at a later point in my life.

To Zig’s family thank you for sharing him with the world and with me personally.

December 4, 2012 at 2:25 am Leave a comment

Christopher Maloney: Example of why we should follow our dreams

This is an example of why we should follow our dreams. The video speaks for itself. Sadly, how many people never get to follow their dreams  because of negative feedback and the pessimism of others?

October 20, 2012 at 11:08 pm Leave a comment

All Businesses Are in The People Industry


One of the greatest lies that you often hear from CEOs and executives is “But you don’t understand my industry” or “my industry is different”. The reality is that all businesses are in the same industry which is the people industry. So when I hear someone say but you don’t understand my industry or my business, what I am forced to ask is “Do you happen to have people who work in your business or do are your employees aliens from some distant planets?” and if you don’t yet have any employees or consultants “Does your business sell to people?”.

Why do I say that every company is in the people industry? It is because changing people behavior and attitudes is likely to yield the most bang for the buck. People have emotions and emotional needs such as fears, aspirations, the need to feel appreciated, valued or that someone cares about them. While most people don’t think that it is an employer’s job to meet these needs, if they are met an employee is more likely to stay on the job and be more productive. To that extent, it is not only the job of business leaders to ensure that employees’ emotional needs are met on the job; perhaps, it is their only job.

To that extent, one definition that I’d like to offer for CEOs no matter what industry they are in is that their job is to manage emotions. This has implications for managers and regular employees. In fact, this has implications for anyone who deals with people in whatever setting including at home. Primarily human beings are emotional, you will have greater impact and connections with them through emotions instead of using logic or structured processes. There is a reason that employee satisfaction is strongly correlated to whether they have a friend or someone who cares about their well being at work.

What does this mean for business leaders, managers, regular employees and anyone who deals with people? I suggest the following:

First of all, know thyself. It is impossible to manage others emotions if you are not aware and in control of your own emotions. This can be accomplished through a combination of the following:

  •  Take tests such as the DISC profile or the Myers-Briggs. I also like tests such as strength finder (Gallup poll) and a less common one called personality research form (
  • Consider attending leadership seminars that will help you discover what drives your behavior (beliefs, attitude and your background). I am biased because it turns out that in my neck of the woods in North Carolina we have some of these best seminars/coaches including the ones led  by my friends at Dorrier Underwood ( I highly recommend the Dorrier Underwood program called Mastery and Advanced Mastery. John Grinnell has also great seminars coupled with some instruments and models that he has developed or enhanced (  Finally, one more development program that I have not attend but has been recommended by others including my own employees is leadership trust (
  • Get a coach who will hold you accountable. This doesn’t have to be a paid coach. Someone you trust and who can give you candid feedback will do. If you’re a CEO or executive, consider joining a group of your peers such as Vistage ( There are similar models to Vistage including one run by Inc Magazine.

Once you have become a master of yourself, you will be on a journey to connect with others.

October 20, 2012 at 6:34 pm Leave a comment

Go Deeper than the Behavior

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

There is a lot of wisdom in these words taken from Luke 6:44 and 45. I think the message is universally true regardless of one’s religious views about the bible. The main idea in the verse is that there is something more deeply rooted in our actions than just looking at the behavior. The hypothesis is that our actions whether good or bad emanate from our “hearts”.

Based on this hypothesis, to change our actions we need to look into our “hearts”. Let me go on a limb to say that heart has to do with our thoughts and belief systems. That is our actions are in fact on auto-pilot based on deep seated beliefs, preconceptions, assumptions and the lenses through which we see the world. For example:

  • If you see yourself as a victim, you will have actions and behaviors that are completely different than others who see themselves as winners.
  • If you see the glass as half empty, your demeanor and attitude will reflect that
  • If you feel that you have always been average all of your life, your actions and behaviors will be that of someone who is always average. Note that being average in school or average in terms of talents in one’s family is not a predictor of success or future greatness. But the erroneous assumption that somehow because you have been receiving average grades in school mean that you are an “average person” and hence bound to be average the rest of your life could be dictating your attitude and your actions.
  • If you think that everyone is a liar, then it’s very likely that you are also a liar.

As parents, friends, brother, sister, spouse or supervisor and for ourselves, we look at a behavior such as someone who lies constantly or someone who is unethical and want to change that behavior without asking questions such as: Why does this person engage in the undesirable behavior? Is there something about how they view the world, past experience, assumptions and beliefs?

The bottom line is that to change someone’s behavior or the behavior of a group of people, we need to look into the operating system including: thoughts, beliefs, assumptions and experience that may affect perception about the world.

September 25, 2012 at 9:13 pm 1 comment

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