Are you climbing a career ladder or swinging on a career jungle gym?


“The most common metaphor for careers is a ladder, but this concept no longer applies to most workers… Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder,”  writes Sheryl Sandberg, who attributes the metaphor to Fortune magazine editor Pattie Sellers.

“Ladders are limiting – people can move up or down, on or off. Jungle gyms offer more creative exploration. There’s only one way to get to the top of a ladder, but there are many ways to get to the top of a jungle gym.

The jungle gym model benefits everyone, but especially women who might be starting careers, switching careers, getting blocked by external barriers, or reentering the workforce after taking time off. The ability to forge a unique path with occasional dips, detours, and even dead ends presents a better chance for fulfilment. Plus, a jungle gym provides great views for many people, not just those at the top. On a ladder, most climbers are stuck staring at the butt of the person above.”


 “A jungle gym scramble is the best description of my career,” continues Sandberg. “I could never have connected the dots from where I started to where I am today…”

“When I graduated from college, I had only the vaguest notion of where I was headed… Throughout my childhood, my parents emphasized the importance of pursuing a meaningful life. Dinner discussions often centered on social injustice and those fighting to make the world a better place. As a child, I never thought about what to be, but I thought a lot about what I wanted to do. …

I hoped to change the world…. I always believed I would work at a non-profit or in government. That was my dream. And while I don’t believe in mapping out each step of a career, I do believe it helps to have a long-term dream or goal. A long-term dream does not have to be realistic or even specific. It may reflect the desire to work in a particular field or to travel throughout the world.”


“With an eye on my childhood dream, the first job I took out of college was at the World Bank as a research assistant to Larry Summers, who was serving a term as chief economist… Larry then generously arranged for me to join an India health field mission to get a closer look at what the Bank actually did.

Flying to India took me into an entirely different world. The team was working to eradicate leprosy, which was endemic in India’s most remote and poorest regions. The conditions were appalling. Due to the stigma of the disease, patients were often exiled from their villages and ended up lying on dirt floors in awful places that passed for clinics.

Facts and figures could never have prepared me for this reality. I have the deepest respect for people who provide hands-on help to those in crises. It is the most difficult work in the world.”


“I headed back to Cambridge. I tried to stay socially conscious by joining the highly unpopular Nonprofit Club. I also spent my second year studying social marketing – how marketing can be used to solve social problems.”


And then there was an interview with a high-level Silicon Valley executive who told Sandberg that “her company would never even consider hiring someone like me because government experience could not possibly prepare anyone to work in the tech industry.”

Undeterred, Sandberg contacted Eric Schmidt, who she had met several times while working at the Treasury, and who had just become CEO of a then relatively unknown company called Google.

The job Google offered her sounded less prestigious than those she had applied for elsewhere, but when she voiced this concern, Schmidt told her: “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat. You just get on.”

In other words, the potential for growth is all that matters, whether it’s in the company as a whole, within a division or team, or in a position with a high demand for your skills.


I have seen these principles at work in my own career, though on a much smaller scale.

What about you?

Are you  climbing a career ladder
swinging on a career jungle gym?




Let’s look for way forward, not who to blame…


As Michael Straczynski once said, “People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives.”

Considering this general tendency, it does not come as a surprise when we see men being blamed for all problems affecting women.



Women do have lots of problems. As Sheryl Sandberg points out in her book Lean In, “the blunt truth is that men still run the world. This means that when it comes to making the decision that most affect us all, women’s voices are not heard equally…”

There are lots of reasons for this. “Women face real obstacles in the professional world, including blatant and subtle sexism… Too few workplaces offer the flexibility and access to child care and parental leave that are necessary for pursuing a career while raising children…”

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As the result, the whole society suffers: “The laws of economics and many studies of diversity tell us that if we tapped the entire pool of human resources and talent, our collective performance would improve. Legendary investor Warren Buffett has stated generously that one of the reasons for his great success was that he was competing with only half of the population. The Warren Buffetts of my generation are still largely enjoying this advantage. When more people get in the race, more records will be broken. And the achievements will extend beyond those individuals to benefit us all.”

Men in a boardroomFrom

When asked how American women could help those who experienced the horrors and mass rapes of war in places like Liberia, Leymah Gbowee (Liberian peace activist who won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize) responded with four simple words: “More women in power.” We do need more strong women in power who don’t play victim, who don’t make themselves look pitiful, who don’t point fingers but stand firmly and deal with the problems.



We do need more women in leadership roles to improve conditions not only for all women and children, but for men as well.

“Why improving conditions for men?” one may ask.

As Sheryl Sandberg points out. “Today, despite all of the gains we have made, neither men nor women have real choice. Until women have supportive employers and colleagues as well as partners who share family responsibilities, they don’t have real choice. And until men are fully respected for contributing inside the home, they don’t have real choice either. Equal opportunity is not equal unless everyone receives the encouragement that makes seizing those opportunities possible. Only then can both men and women achieve their full potential. …

We all want the same thing: to feel comfortable with our choices and to feel validated by those around us. If more children see fathers at school pickups and mothers who are busy at jobs, both girls and boys will envision more options for themselves. Expectations will not be set by gender but by personal passion, talents, and interests.”

Like Sheryl Sandberg, I hope my children will be able to choose what to do with their lives without external or internal obstacles slowing them down or making them question their choices. If they want to do the important work of raising children full-time, I hope they will be respected and supported by the society disregarding their gender. If they want to work full-time and pursue their professional aspirations, I hope they will also be respected and supported by the society disregarding their gender.


Let’s look for way forward, not who to blame…



Love and Marriage

happy_marriageFrom Secret to a happy marriage….100% works

“Marriage was a lot more stable when women had to give in to everything their husbands wanted. But it was also less satisfying, not just for women but for many men who never quite understood why their wives were so unhappy or withdrawn.

Over the past century, a good marriage has steadily become fairer, more fulfilling, and better at fostering the well-being of adults and children than ever before in history. At the same time, an unsatisfactory marriage has become less bearable and more brittle. These two seemingly contradictory changes stem from the same source – the breakdown of husbands’ legal domination over wives and of women’s economic dependence on men.

Today, marriage takes more time, more love, more work, and more daily negotiation – from both partners, not just the wife – than it did in the past. There is no magic formula, weekend encounter, or set of “rules” that can bypass the hard work it takes to make a marriage succeed. The bad news is that if negotiations break down, there are few constraints forcing unhappy partners to stay together. Yet, if they could speak, a lot of couples who lived in the “old days” would tell you that this is also the good news.”

From Why marriage today takes more love, work – from both partners

forced marriagefrom Of Children, Marriage, Aspirations…