Book review: Option B

This review of Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B was written by Puck van Doorn, a presentation coach and entrepreneur with a strong background in business strategic roles in an international environment. In her current role she transforms talent around the globe into influential speakers. At the same time she also supports her clients on how to present themselves positively in just about any situation.

I tried to sum up this book in a sentence or two: raw, honest, sincere and many lessons that can be easily applied in real life, both personal and business – all supported with solid research.

Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant touch honestly upon the most basic elements in human life (which by definition are therefore also part of business life). In the end, human connection is what we are biologically set to strive for, to survive. In addition, it makes our offices a better place to be and a safe place where we can try, fail, and excel.

The book combines excellent insights in how to deal with grief yourself and how to deal with grief from others. Not only can you apply these theories if you lose a special person, but for me the lessons also apply to loss, failure or a setback in general.

The book is written in such a way that while learning about hands-on theory and how to apply it, you feel like you are reading a novel. It is intense and real, and the personal stories brought me to tears multiple times.

For me, it is the book that I will return to in the future and will continue to recommend, as it is a book that helps you grow personally and therefore also business wise. Actually, I think all people with ambition and a wish to further develop leadership skills could benefit from reading this.

The saying ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ has certainly be proven throughout the data shown in this book. You are handed means to learn to deal with setbacks and build resilience ‘which leads to greater happiness, more success and better health’.

More important, the book discusses relevant topics and challenges, including ongoing inequalities in gender, race, sexual orientation etc. — topics that the writers are not afraid to put on the table while also honestly admitting to the fact that they have the luxury of a fortunate background. These relevant topics are exactly the reason why you need to read this book if you want to be part of the leadership of the future, as this is what it is all about.

Jack Ma of Alibaba summed it up well at the World Economic Forum in January 2018 — we cannot outsmart computers and machinery anymore, so we need to teach (and learn) soft skills.

There you go…read this book!

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