Lean In, Life and Leadership: Lessons from Dreamforce Keynotes

Over 2,000 miles away from Vocus headquarters and 135,000 people deep, we found ourselves in the throngs of the largest software conference in the world, Dreamforce 2013.

Dreamforce 2013

Amidst two booths, two sponsored networking parties and a whole lot of seafood, we had the chance to sit in on the best sessions of #DF13 and boy, were the lessons deep.

Not only did we learn about software, new apps and techniques, many of the keynotes reflected philosophies on leadership, business and life in general. (How to make it more fulfilling and meaningful in our interactions seemed to be a common theme.)

Here are some of the best lessons from Dreamforce combed from our notes:

Sheryl Sandberg, COO, FacebookSheryl Sandberg

On gender equality: “I just finished writing a book that tells women to be more self-confident. I wrote this because no matter what progress we may have made, we are still far from getting our share of leaderships in any industry, in any country, anywhere in the world.When decisions are made that impact our world, our voices aren’t heard equally.

“Stereotypes of men and women are exactly the same everywhere in the world. We believe men should be assertive, aggressive leaders. Women should speak when spoken to, raise their hand and give to others. But when women are aggressive, they’re called bossy. Don’t you find this curious?”

On business: “Reach for every opportunity.”

On leadership: “If someone ever tells you that you’re bossy, tell them that you have executive leadership skills.”

On leaning in: “Try a Lean in circle. Lean in circles are groups of 10-ish people that come together to talk about issues and support each other to reach for their ambitions. There’s a lot of evidence that says that peer mentoring is important.”

On life: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid? It’s time to check things off your list.”

Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo! Marissa Mayer

On mobile: “Mobile is a wave large enough (that) you can ride it to reinvention. The digital world is now about designing for mobile. And you can’t design for mobile unless you’re there.”

On leadership: “Water finds its way. Either you help your employees work on what they’re passionate about or they’ll find another way.”

On life: “Be clear as to what your priorities are. If you have time for anything else, it is just a bonus.”

On product philosophy: “It’s about the products, the end-users, how the product works for them and if your product does something special that can’t be replicated. You have to be a user of your product to understand what works for people and what doesn’t.”

On design: “You’re not designing for the expert user. Trade sophistication for simplicity. If it’s too sophisticated, it may turn a user off. Design for the most common use case, and make it fast.”

Dr. Deepak Chopra, author and alternative medicine guru Deepak Chopra

On career well-being: “Across the world, only 20 percent of people say that they love their jobs. More people die on Monday morning at 9 a.m. because they hate their jobs.”

“If your supervisor ignores you, you are likely to have a 45 percent rate of disengagement, and within six months, you are likely to fall ill. If your supervisor doesn’t ignore you but instead criticizes you, your rate of disengagement falls to 20 percent because you’d rather be criticized than ignored.  If they notice just one of your strengths, your rate of disengagement falls to less than 1 percent and your health improves.”

“Health and well-being is dependent on career satisfaction.”

On social well-being: “If you have a happy friend, your happiness goes up by 15 percent. If your friend’s friend is happy, it goes up another 10 percent, and continues through the chain. Statistically, the best way to improve your well-being is to improve the capacity for happiness, even in your enemies.”

“We are so hungry for attention, affection and appreciation that we can use our brain to cause biological changes to people in remote areas, positive and negative simply through technology, such as an emoticon or an email. Ten years ago this would be an outrageous idea. States of consciousness match states of biology, and your mind is no longer just in your brain.”

Phew, deep stuff. What do you think of the insights from the keynotes?

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