Comment on “You can’t Lean In if you don’t have someone to hold you up” | Jessica Wu Ramirez | March 14, 2014 | Hallopello Blog

Jessica Wu Ramirez reflected on “Lean In” by Sherry Sandberg via “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell:

I never fully understood the problem I had with “Lean In” until I read “Outliers.”

The basic message I got from “Outliers” is that you owe your success to a million different factors (many of which are predetermined to throw you onto a success track). So many women will read “Lean In” and join a “Lean In Circle” and it will basically do nothing for them because they aren’t already pointed in the right direction, or dare I say it, born with the right personality.

Ok, I'm ready to lean in, now ... just a little higher, guys...

I believe that the biggest factor in a person’s life is a decision that wasn’t made by him or her, but by the parents: the city (or cities) in which the child was born, raised and educated. As adults, we may like to think that we’re self-made, but somewhere between the first 16 and 25 years of life, individuals in our society are supported by someone else.  Richard Florida, back in 2008, had written that “where” is more important than “who” or “what”:

The place we choose to live affects every aspect of our being. It can determine the income we earn, the people we meet, the friends we make, the partners we choose, and the options available to our children and families. People are not equally happy everywhere, and some places do a better job of providing a high quality of life than others. Some places offer us more vibrant labor markets, better career prospects, higher real estate appreciation, and stronger investment and earnings opportunities. Some places offer more promising mating markets. Others are better environments for raising children. [….]

The point is, where we live is a central life factor that affects all the others — work, education, and love — that follow. It can make or break existing work arrangements and personal relationships. It can open new doors. And regardless of what kind of life we envision for ourselves—whether we aspire to make millions, have a family, or live the way of a bachelor — choosing where to live is a decision we all must make at least once. A good number of us will make it multiple times. The average American moves once every seven years. More than 40 million people relocate each year; 15 million make significant moves of more than 50 or 100 miles.

For the first time ever, says author and Toronto University's Business and Creativity Professor Richard Florida, many of us have the freedom and economic means to choose our place — and the opportunity to find the place that fits us best is even more important than choosing a career or even a spouse.

As a (graduate) student in the Finnish education system, I appreciate my education as free — without charge — funded by the state in Finland. When asked why a university would fund an undergraduate or graduate student (for 4 or 5 years), I’ve had a different perspective from Finns:  what about the system that already funded that child through 12 years?  (I had 21 years of school in Canada and the U.S. before I went to Finland).