Facebook's Sandberg: "It is all professional and all personal at the same time"

Jennifer Prosek  Follow

I have been saying for years that I'd like to shoot the individuals who coined the phrase "It's nothing personal, it's just business,” and made it part of our collective thinking. Thanks to Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, I feel validated in my intense dislike for the quote and its rampant, out-of-context use.

This past weekend I watched her amazing speech (below) to the graduating class of Harvard Business School and was inspired on so many levels. But the point she made about being an authentic human being in the workplace struck a chord. She said, "It is all professional, and all personal, at the same time." I couldn’t agree more.

It is sad that the corporate world has become so wooden, so overly scripted and so inhuman. As a consultant I walk the halls of many institutions and I am saddened by the behavior I see. And to see women in high-ranking roles never drop their guard and show their authentic selves is truly sad.

I recently met Sallie Krawcheck, former CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, and was instantly impressed by her. She is honest, open, intelligent, authentic and funny. What a breath of fresh air. Contrastingly, I also recently attended a Wall Street Journal Viewpoints Breakfast featuring another senior woman and left disappointed. She was so scripted and polished; it was hard to feel as if you learned anything about her, or her organization. There was no authenticity or connection, and others felt the same.

Sandberg’s speech is a must-watch on every level and I agree with each and every message she delivered to the HBS class. If you haven’t watched it, check it out (and a special thank you to my colleague Vu Chung for insisting that I watch it!). CJP

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