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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (at right) Monday night at the Riverside Theater. (PHOTO: The Pabst Theater )

Resilience and community at the heart of Facebook COO's Monday night message

At the heart of what Facebook does best, I believe, is passionate community building.

Too many people focus on the negatives of what can happen via Facebook. Sure, there's "bad" there, but I believe the platform and company have not only changed the way we live and tell our stories but also have bonded groups together in ways that simply just were never available.

The network effect of Facebook is real, human and, as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg showed last night at the Riverside Theater in Downtown Milwaukee, resilient.

You can read all the reviews of Sandberg's books "Lean In" and her new "Option B." I don't need to retell those – buy them, though, as both are powerful and well written. If you don't know her story, find her on Facebook here.

I attended Sandberg's "Option B' tour last night, with my wife, and here are several observations.

1. Self Help is really, or should be, Help Others

During her talk, Sandberg noted that book stores don't have "Help Others" sections, but rather "Self Help" sections. It was a great observation and one that we can all, sadly too often, take to heart.

2. Books matter

I read most books via my iPad, but I still love a stroll through a book store. Boswell Book Company, the presenter of last night's show, is a local gem and a true community builder. Cheers to all that Daniel Goldin and his team do. He did a great intro for Sandberg, by the way.

3. "The power of three" works

Our pastor, Fr. Tim Kitzke, loves to use three things in his homilies. It works and helps the audience digest the information. Great speakers and communicators, like Sandberg, use the power of three well too. On Monday night, Sandberg obviously focused on grief and resilience, but recommended using what the psychologist Martin Seligman coined the "three Ps": personalization, pervasiveness and permanence. Read more about this here.

4. Death sucks, but it can heal

I am blessed that I haven't experienced major personal loss, but we all lose someone somehow and at sometime. The circle of life never stops. As my wife told me, "She (Sandberg) gave words to grief like one else ever has ... it was heavy but helpful. I don't think I am ready to read her book ... but I will at some point. Everything she described is how I feel about losing my Dad." Loss and death suck, but time heals and resilience comes. We've all seen it, and Sandberg is helping give voice to the shared experience.

5. "How can I help?" You can't but …

"Please let me know what I can do to help?" We all say it with death, cancer or whatever, but as Sandberg and many have noted, this question actually puts the burden back on the individual who is grieving. Intentions are fine with questions like this, but dive in and help. Action works in times of loss and tragedy.

6. A Milwaukee custard connection

Sandberg opened her conversation with some local flair, telling the moderator – Wisconsin novelist Jane Hamilton – that her aunt and uncle are from the Milwaukee area, and that she was expecting that they would have brought her custard from Kopp's.

7. I wanted to hear more from her about the business of Facebook, but that's OK

Obviously this book tour is about "Option B." Many in attendance were there for community and support, and it was powerful. As much as I wanted a few questions about the business of Facebook, I think I got them answered without hearing them. Sandberg's "collective resilience" message is what any company needs and, frankly, should demand of its team.

Sandberg's heart and soul shined on Monday night – and I'm certain they also do the same every day at Facebook.


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