Sheryl Sandberg

21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

The Facebook COO worked in government and Google before landing a top role at the social giant.
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg
Image credit: Jerod Harris | WireImage | Getty Images
5 min read

Sheryl Sandberg's experience goes far beyond being the chief operating officer of Facebook.

Related: 10 Sheryl Sandberg Quotes to Motivate and Inspire You

Graduating from Harvard University in 1991, Sandberg later went back and earned her master's in economics. During her time at Harvard, Sandberg was an aerobics teacher and helped co-found the on-campus group Women in Economics and Government. After school, she worked with Larry Summers as his chief of staff while he was treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton.

Before joining Facebook, Sandberg was in a leading position at Google. But once she met Zuckerberg, she hopped on board and is today recognized as not only the COO but a leading female figure at Facebook. While she's experienced setbacks and heartbreak -- having lost her husband unexpectedly -- Sandberg's publicly demonstrated her strength and resilience.

Related: Sheryl Sandberg Shares 7 Ways to Build Resilience Into Your Company Culture As You Scale

She's the author of two bestselling books and is a leading voice of women around the world. There's much to learn about the inspirational woman -- here are 19 facts you probably didn't know about Sandberg.

21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

She was born in Washington, D.C., but moved to Miami when she was 2.

She was born in Washington, D.C., but moved to Miami when she was 2.
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Although she was born in the country's capital in 1969, Sandberg and her family moved to Miami when she was 2-years-old. She later attended North Miami Beach High School, where she graduated in the top 10 of her class.
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

Sandberg used to be an aerobics instructor.

Sandberg used to be an aerobics instructor.
Image credit: Jon Gray | Getty Images
While in high school in the 1980s, Sandberg was an aerobics instructor clad in leggings, leg warmers and bright eye shadow. Later in college, she supposedly ran the Harvard aerobics program.
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

She co-founded the group Women in Economic and Government at Harvard.

She co-founded the group Women in Economic and Government at Harvard.
Image credit: Barry Chin | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

Studying gender and economics at Harvard, Sandberg co-founded the group Women in Economics and Government on-campus.

Related: 50 Motivational Quotes From Disruptive, Trailblazing, Inspiring Women

21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

Larry Summers was her thesis advisor at Harvard.

Larry Summers was her thesis advisor at Harvard.
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While at Harvard, Sandberg wrote her thesis, "How Economic Inequality Contributes to Spousal Abuse." At the time, her thesis advisor and mentor was Larry Summers, who served as the treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, the director of the National Economic Council for President Barack Obama and the chief economist at the World Bank.
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

She graduated summa cum laude from Harvard.

She graduated summa cum laude from Harvard.
Image credit: Rick Friedman | Corbis | Getty Images
Sandberg graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University in 1991. She majored in economics and was also awarded the John H. Williams Prize for being one of the top graduated of economics.
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

Sandberg graduated with the highest distinction from Harvard Business School.

Sandberg graduated with the highest distinction from Harvard Business School.
Image credit: Brooks Kraft | Corbis | Getty Images
Sandberg went back to Harvard to earn her MBA. She graduated in 1995 with the highest distinction.
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

She was chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summer under the Clinton administration.

She was chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summer under the Clinton administration.
Image credit: Cynthia Johnson | Getty Images

In 1999, at 29-years-old, Sandberg served as chief of staff to then U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers under the Clinton administration. She had prior worked for Summers as a research assistant at the World Bank.

Related: What Male and Female Leaders Can Learn From Each Other

21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

She married her first husband at age 24.

She married her first husband at age 24.
Image credit: Miyuki Watanabe | EyeEm | Getty Images
In 1993, when she was 24, Sandberg married her first husband Brian Kraff. However, their marriage only lasted for a year and by 1994, the couple divorced.
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

She worked at Google before Facebook.

She worked at Google before Facebook.
Image credit: Brooks Kraft LLC | Corbis | Getty Images
Before becoming COO at Facebook in 2008, Sandberg was Google's VP of global online sales. She spent six years at Google, managing online sales channels for AdWords and AdSense.
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

Sandberg and Zuckerberg met at a Christmas party.

Sandberg and Zuckerberg met at a Christmas party.
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In 2007, Sandberg and Zuckerberg met at Silicon Valley financier Dan Rosensweig's Christmas party. A year later, Sandberg joined the Facebook team.
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

Eric Schmidt convinced her to join his team.

Eric Schmidt convinced her to join his team.
Image credit: Bloomberg | Getty Images
It took some convincing from Google's Eric Schmidt, who was the company's CEO at the time, to get Sandberg to join Google. Sandberg shared that in 2001, Schmidt told her, "Don't be an idiot. If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don't ask what seat. You just get on."
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

She doesn’t like the word “bossy.”

She doesn’t like the word “bossy.”
Image credit: Antoine Antoniol | Getty Images
Sandberg launched the "Ban Bossy" campaign to empower women from a young age. She believes the "b-word" doesn't encourage women to lead. And the campaign's website reads: "Words like bossy send a message: Don't speak up or take the lead. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys -- a trend that continues into adulthood."
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

She was the first woman to be appointed to Facebook’s board.

She was the first woman to be appointed to Facebook’s board.
Image credit: Vincent Isore | IP3 | Getty Images

In 2012, four years into Sandberg's career as Facebook's COO, Sandberg became the first woman to join Facebook's board of directors.

Related: The Transformative Leadership Styles of 3 Top Female CEOs

21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

Her husband died unexpectedly during a vacation in Mexico.

Her husband died unexpectedly during a vacation in Mexico.
Image credit: Kevork Djansezian | Getty Images
In 2015, Sandberg's husband and then CEO of Survey Monkey Dave Goldberg passed away unexpectedly during a vacation in Punta Mita, Mexico. Sandberg and Goldberg were married for 11 years, with two children.
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

After her husband’s death, she wrote "Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy."

After her husband’s death, she wrote "Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy."
Image credit: Noam Galai | WireImage | Getty Images
In order to rebound from the crushing loss of her husband, Sandberg wrote the book, Option B, where she shares her personal experience of dealing with loss, and how she found the strength to persevere and find happiness once again.
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook helped her recover from the loss of her husband.

Facebook helped her recover from the loss of her husband.
Image credit: Scott Eells | Bloomberg | Getty Images
In a 2015 Reddit post, Sandberg shared how Facebook helped her recover from the loss of her husband, because it showed her the massive amount of support she had from across the globe. "Facebook is helping me get through what has been the hardest year of my life... Recovering from loss is a huge part of the human condition and by connecting with people on Facebook I was reminded that I was part of that global community."
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

To unwind, she watches “bad TV.”

To unwind, she watches “bad TV.”
Image credit: Andrei Daniel | EyeEm | Getty Images
In order to relax and unwind after a busy day, Sandberg admitted in a 2015 Reddit post that she indulges in some "bad TV," as her late husband would call it.
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

She uses a spiral notebook to organize her day.

She uses a spiral notebook to organize her day.
Image credit: Bill Greene | The Boston Globe | Getty Images
Sandberg is old-school when it comes to organization. In fact, according to Fast Company, she carries around a spiral-bound notebook where she keeps meeting notes and discussion points.
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

Before meetings, she asks people to share their current well-being.

Before meetings, she asks people to share their current well-being.
Image credit: Matt McClain | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Before starting meetings with her leadership team, Sandberg checks in with members of the meeting, inviting them to share their current emotional and professional state before getting down to business.

Related: How Women Leaders Win and Help Others to Do the Same

21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

She wakes up early and goes to sleep early.

She wakes up early and goes to sleep early.
Image credit: Kevork Djansezian | Getty Images
Sandberg usually arrives at work around 7 a.m., and then leaves sharply at 5:30 p.m. so she can spend time with her children. By 9:30 p.m., Sandberg goes to bed.
21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg

She has a gift from Howard Schultz hanging in her conference room.

She has a gift from Howard Schultz hanging in her conference room.
Image credit: Stephen Brashear / Stringer | Getty Images
In her conference room hangs a poster that reads: "The future belongs to the few of us still willing to get our hands dirty." Turns out, this poster was actually a gift from Starbucks' Howard Schultz and is one of Sandberg's favorite things.
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  • 21 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sheryl Sandberg
  • She was born in Washington, D.C., but moved to Miami when she was 2.
  • Sandberg used to be an aerobics instructor.
  • She co-founded the group Women in Economic and Government at Harvard.
  • Larry Summers was her thesis advisor at Harvard.
  • She graduated summa cum laude from Harvard.
  • Sandberg graduated with the highest distinction from Harvard Business School.
  • She was chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summer under the Clinton administration.
  • She married her first husband at age 24.
  • She worked at Google before Facebook.
  • Sandberg and Zuckerberg met at a Christmas party.
  • Eric Schmidt convinced her to join his team.
  • She doesn’t like the word “bossy.”
  • She was the first woman to be appointed to Facebook’s board.
  • Her husband died unexpectedly during a vacation in Mexico.
  • After her husband’s death, she wrote "Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy."
  • Facebook helped her recover from the loss of her husband.
  • To unwind, she watches “bad TV.”
  • She uses a spiral notebook to organize her day.
  • Before meetings, she asks people to share their current well-being.
  • She wakes up early and goes to sleep early.
  • She has a gift from Howard Schultz hanging in her conference room.
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