Wharton professor Adam Grant and technology executive Sheryl Sandberg spent Wednesday evening offering advice for one of life’s toughest questions: how to find joy after tragedy.
Sandberg, who is the chief operating officer of Facebook spoke with Grant in Irvine Auditorium about their new book, “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” at a talk hosted by the Authors@Wharton speaker series.
In 2015, Sandberg’s husband passed away from a coronary heart disease. She said not only did she have to grapple with her own grief, she also had to grapple with the heartache of her children.
“I didn’t invite anyone to the funeral,” she said. “I was in a fog.”
“Option B” combines Sandberg’s reflection on her grief in the aftermath of her husband’s death with Grant’s research on resilience.
Sandberg said she turned to Grant for advice after the tragedy. She had formed a habit of writing in a journal to cope with her grief, and together they decided to write “Option B” to help not only Sandberg, but other people who may be struggling with grief.
“There is a whole section of self-help books,” Sandberg said. “But there is no help others section.”
Sandberg stressed that the book’s strategies for building resilience can be applied to any hardship in life, including divorce, job loss, terminal illness and college rejections.
She shared tips that she personally used to “find joy again,” including “writing down three moments of joy in a journal before going to bed.”
In addition to discussing “Option B,” Sandberg spoke about themes in her other book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” which provides advice for women in the workplace.
She stressed the importance of women and minority achievement and criticized those who believe that they are disadvantaged by company affirmative action policies.
“If there is bias the other way, it sure isn’t showing up in the data,” she said.
Staff Nurse at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital Jenny Wang said much of Sandberg’s advice was familiar to her based on her experiences in nursing.
“A lot of what she was actually saying I felt like I had already learned a lot about in the clinical setting,” Wang said. “I thought it was very interesting to see it brought up by somebody who’s from a business background and more from a management perspective.”
MBA student Laurie Josephson said she came to the talk because she was a fan of Adam Grant and because she was interested in how data ties in with human behavior.
Josephson said her biggest takeaway from the event was Sandberg’s final message: Stop being overly anxious about trivial things in school.
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