10 Success Lessons from Mark Zuckerberg

What does Zuckerberg do differently to be one of the most envied and successful business leaders in the world?


Born as Mark Elliot Zuckerberg in May 1984 in New York, Zuckerberg runs one of the most thriving global conglomerates and most valued companies in the world that is synonymous with success, vision, ideation, entrepreneurship, social media, and networking that has a market cap of 324.90 $ (April 30th).

If he has the same 24 hours a day that we all have and the same adult human brain that weighs around 3 pounds, what makes him so outstanding and so outperforming?

These are the questions many of us will well ask ourselves when we see him splashed across magazines, Television channels and discussed threadbare in B-Schools and in several entrepreneurship meets.

Surprisingly, this American computer programmer who dropped out of Harvard University after his sophomore year in 2004 spends only 50 to 60 hours a week at his office. However, the flip side is that he dedicates his full day to dwell and obsess over Facebook which is the mission of his life.

This 37-year-old tech CEO confesses to starting his day at 8:00 am by doom scrolling through Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp to catch up with the rest of the world. So, if you were contemplating on a digital detox and telling yourself to meditate first thing in the morning – think again. Because Mark Zuckerberg does exactly this as soon as he wakes up.

This is where it all began…

In February 2004, when Zuckerberg was 19 years old, he launched the facebook.com (renamed Facebook in 2005), which was predominantly a directory in which fellow Harvard students entered their personal information and photos into a template that he had designed. And in no time, much of the student body had signed up. Zuckerberg’s roommates, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes helped him add features and make the site available to other campuses across the country.
Facebook experienced swift success as registered users could create profiles, upload photos and other media, and basically keep in touch with friends. It had a key differentiator which was the feature of building a database of real people and including friends of friends which was a major hit.

In 2005, Facebook received its first venture capital funding of $12.7 million and then one thing led to another and as they say the rest is history. And today Zuckerberg’s net worth is at: $119.4 billion. Over the years Facebook has been mired in controversies and criticisms that even questioned if Mark Zuckerberg was really meant to be a CEO, but with each hurdle the company and the leadership has emerged stronger and rides successful till today.

Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s growth story will always be the holy grail for entrepreneurs keen on making it big. So, given below is a roundup of select key themes from Zuckerberg’s personal and professional lives that we can emulate. It is a motley list of management tips, life lessons and conscious behavioural changes for individual development and professional advancement.

Create a clear and compelling vision

Mark Zuckerberg has one of the grandest visions that any entrepreneur could possibly have – Of Connecting the World. With a world population of 7.9 billion people, and with Facebook presently having 2.80 billion monthly active users is striding forward on achieving its mission which is why it can attract and retain some of the best talent. Talent that wants to be a part of this vision. With a clear-cut vision comes the ability to lead the team forward in the right direction. Every entrepreneur must have a complete vision of what he or she wants to accomplish, and this is fundamental to entrepreneurial success.

‘‘

Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission - to make the world more open and connected.

- Mark Zuckerberg

Give wings to goals with passion

Get completely immersed in your vision and allow it to consume and engulf you. It is not uncommon for Mark Zuckerberg to stay up late to programme while at Harvard nor for his company to conduct all night hackathons. Some of these nightly sojourns have given birth to the Facebook features that we casually use such as Chat and Friend Suggestions. While it is not about night and day, what is important is the fact that when you passionately obsess over your vision some of the best breakthroughs happen. Entrepreneurial success comes only when you give yourself completely to the vision and obsess over how you can achieve that vision that is burning within you.

“Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started”. Mark Zuckerberg.

Keep the customer in mind always

When businesses build and create products and services with the customer at the forefront, it is always a win. It is very easy to fall prey to your product and eventually stay in love with it and completely lose sight of what the customer wants. This is one of the most common failures of entrepreneurship when the founders end up spending time on convincing the customer that they need the same. Instead, if entrepreneurs pause and understand the customer mind and get under their skin to know what makes them tick and then marry it to the entrepreneurial vision, the outcome is easily saleable. Facebook works with the overarching theme of what customers want to share about themselves in a social platform which is the driving motto behind the backend of Facebook.

Build simple but effective products

Making a product that is simple, easy to use, and addresses the key concerns of a well-defined target group is key. That is what Facebook excelled at. It never over engineered anything beyond a point and struck at an optimum point. In an overzealous attempt to dazzle the customer, entrepreneurs often make the product so feature rich that becomes counterproductive. As entrepreneurs it would be worthwhile to learn how to build a simple and effective product that fascinates the customer but never overpowers them as that puts them off.

“I think a simple rule of business is, if you do the things that are easier first, then you can actually make a lot of progress.” Mark Zuckerberg

Start small but think big always

While it’s admirable to have a grand vision and passionately think about it always. Actions are what will take you closer to the goal. Interestingly Facebook, while having the vision of connecting the world, took it small initially opening Facebook up only for college students, who are reachable and available. Scaling up immediately after founding can be extremely dangerous, however starting small and gradually building as funds and support trickle in will be a wise move. Entrepreneurial success is largely dependent on the first few years of stability which is when the team, customers, and money start to trickle in.

“I’m here to build something for the long-term. Anything else is a distraction.” Mark Zuckerberg

Rejig your teams as you move the needle

One of the sharpest things to do as an entrepreneur would be to know what type of team members you need at each stage of the company’s growth. This was something Mark Zuckerberg did intuitively. He shrugged off some of the founding members to bring in new talent as the company scaled. Facebook’s hire of Sheryl Sandberg as its COO was a prudent one and was instrumental for the company’s phenomenal growth. So, knowing what team should be in place at what stage of the company is required of business leaders. Entrepreneurs must keep the growth of the organization at the epicentre and never be clouded by emotions.

‘‘

I think as a company, if you can get those two things right--having a clear direction on what you are trying to do and bringing in great people who can execute on the stuff--then you can do pretty well.

- Mark Zuckerberg

Communicate consciously with your people

There are several reports on how Mark Zuckerberg is always walking around the office communicating with his team and getting to know them at a personal level. This is one of the smartest and simplest things that any entrepreneur can do. When one invests energy in team members you have their wholehearted support without asking for it. Every entrepreneur while spending time in forming the team painstakingly must also invest a similar effort in keeping the channels of communication open with them. This gives them the enormous opportunity to know what excites the team members and cater to it accordingly which also helps the business well.

“Treat your employees right so they won’t use your internet to look for new jobs”. Mark Zuckerberg.

Be the master of your mind

At the centre of it all is the mind and the power that lies within it. During the entrepreneurial journey one must traverse a lot. There are several junctures when you are at crossroads, when you encounter losses, failures, decisions backfiring, trolls and criticism. As an entrepreneur you will have to build the mental stamina to cut the clutter and shut out the naysayers and continue to believe in what you set out to do and never waver from it. This is something that Mark Zuckerberg has cultivated and uses the energy spent otherwise on negative emotions to fan his curiosity, creativity, and agility.

“You don’t let people deter you. That’s how you do it.” Mark Zuckerberg

Strive to have a healthy body

It is not about wearing the same grey T-shirt everyday like Mark Zuckerberg, which he does anyway. Setting yourself up for success means starting to respect your body and keeping it fit, flexible and filled with energy. Mark Zuckerberg runs/works out thrice a week apart from running with his dog. Entrepreneurship begins with having good health and realizing that spending time on yourself is an investment of time and effort in your business as well.

“Health is certainly extremely important, and we’ve done a number of things at Facebook to help improve global health and work in that area, and I am excited to do more there, too. But the reality is that it’s not either-or. People need to be healthy and be able to have the Internet as a backbone to connect them to the whole economy.” Mark Zuckerberg

There are several allegations and scandals associated with Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. But the fact remains that for entrepreneurial success and stardom he continues to be an inspirational figure. And emerging entrepreneurs will benefit largely by looking at the multiple success factors of Facebook and of its famous founder. While the path to achieving business success is different for everyone, Zuckerberg’s journey can certainly act as the right reminder when you tend to question yourself when – overwhelmed by the entrepreneurial insurmountable risks.

Bhuvana Rajaram
Bhuvana Rajaram
Bhuvana is an industry veteran with 30 years of experience, she writes on startup ecosystems, entrepreneurship, marketing literature and internal communication. Her stint includes Cognizant and TAFE.

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