Translating Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ Manifesto For Young Girls by: John A. Byrne on April 28, 2016 | 2,556 Views April 28, 2016 Copy Link Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email Share on LinkedIn Share on WhatsApp Share on Reddit A page from Brave Becca Leans In ‘CAVEATING’ AT HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL Sud, 28, who did her undergraduate studies at the London School of Economics, felt similar pressures as a woman in a classroom of 90 students, about 60% of which were male. She found a lot of the female students at Harvard doing what she calls “caveating,” qualifying their expressed opinions in the class. “We would preface comments with, ‘I may be wrong but this is just my opinion,'” she says. “A bunch of the women were having a dinner and I said to some peope that we have to stop doing this because it is undermining what we are saying. It really shocked me as well because we all come from demanding industries and jobs and yet we were still facing this issue.” Informed by an article in Glamour which suggested that girls begin losing their confidence as early as kindergarten, the group decided to form a micro-business that would create and market books to young girls to build their self-confidence. “We started talking about how to address this confidence gap, and from there it was a case of how do we execute,” says Sud. The result: A children’s book inspired by Sandberg’s manifesto, specifically chapter two of Lean In that advises women to ‘Sit at the Table.’ Authored by the two women and aimed at girls aged five to eight, the book is called Brave Becca Leans In. The 32-page paperback chronicles Becca’s first week of wizardry school and focuses on three core Sandberg principles: 1) Speak up, 2) Act with confidence, and 3) Attribute good results to hard work, not luck. ‘WE FELT WE WERE DOING SOMETHING THAT COULD POTENTIALLY CHANGE LIVES’ Harvard MBA student & co-author Ching-Ching Chen “We wanted to teach young girls those three things,” says Chen. To do it, they decided to create a young witch—Becca—through which Sandberg’s advice would come alive. “We sat down and started hashing out the story and came up with the original prototype in three hours,” explains Sud. The team–which includes male students from Japan, Singapore, Bolivia and Panama–hired illustrator Alfredo Montane from Upwork, the online marketplace for freelancers, and used HBS seed funding of under $1,000 to support the launch. It took dozens of iterations and public readings over three months to get it right. At one reading at the children’s section of the Cambridge Public Library, they found that their book clearly touched on a nerve. One girl conceded she didn’t sit at the front of the table because the character in the book was like her–fearful of taking a place at the table. Another young girl attributed the character’s success to luck–not hard work–though her brother disagreed, saying Becca was “awesome.” “We were getting a huge divergence of responses at the reading,” says Sud. “That is when we felt we were doing something that could potentialLy change lives.” The Brave Becca business model is to take classics, such as Katty Kay’s The Confidence Code or Amy Cuddy’s Presence, and adapt them for a younger audience. The books are published on demand by Amazon for $9.89 and also available on Kindle for $8.99. When Chen told her Chinese parents that she had co-authored a book, they quizzically asked, “‘You wrote a book? At Harvard Business School?,’” laughs Chen. “Everyone wants their daughters to grow up as confident and as happy as they can be. My parents were very supportive of this because of that,” she adds. “We don’t want girls in 20 years coming to HBS not wanting to speak up in class or undermining their opinions before they express them.” The FIELD3 team behind Brave Becca Previous PagePage 2 of 2 1 2 Comments or questions about this article? Email us.