Great Minds

How To Learn Like Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg is the CEO and Founder of Facebook, the world's largest social network and is the 5th richest man in the world. This post will give you three tips you can take away from Zuckerberg to apply to your own learning and life.
Nasos Papadopoulos
"Building a mission and building a business go hand-in-hand."


Mark Zuckerberg is the CEO and Founder of Facebook, the social network which has more users than any country on earth and that you’ve spent at least an hour of your life on today.

He’s also the 5th richest man in the world with a net worth that makes him worth over $2 billion for every year he’s been alive. Not bad, Zuck.

But Mark isn’t all about the billions – he started Internet.org in 2013 to get the 5 billion people without Internet access connected and with his wife Priscilla Chan he’s pledged to donate 99% of his Facebook shares to charitable causes.

On top of all this, the guy still managed to learn Mandarin well enough to lecture in it in his spare time - and he’s definitely someone worth learning from.

Childhood: Programming Prodigy and All Around Genius

Mark Zuckerberg was born in on 14th May 1984 in White Plains, New York, the son of Karen, a psychiatrist, and Edward Zuckerberg, a dentist.

As a child, Mark excelled in school, winning prizes in science and classical studies.

His interest in programming developed in middle school when his father taught him Atari BASIC Programming and hired developer David Newman to tutor him.

Newman called Mark a "prodigy", saying that it was "tough to keep up with him". But even Newman could never have known just how true that would be…

Education: Endless Experimenter and Facebook Origins
 

Zuckerberg took a graduate course in programming at Mercy College while still in high school and spent his free time building games and communications tools.

One of these was "ZuckNet" a program that allowed the computers in his house and his father’s dental office to communicate with each other - a "primitive" version of AOL's Instant Messenger that came out the following year.

By the time Mark reached Harvard, he was a programming prodigy, studying Computer Science and Psychology.

In his sophomore year, he wrote a program called CourseMatch, which allowed students to choose classes based on other students choices (read, helping guys pick classes with more girls) and help them form study groups.

Soon after this he created Facemash, a site that let students choose the best-looking person from a choice of photos.

The site went up over a weekend, but by Monday morning, it was shut down down, because the traffic it generated had blown one of Harvard's network switches and prevented other students from getting online!

Lots of students were unhappy that Zuckerberg had used their photos used without permission and the articles were published in the student paper condemning Facemash.

Mark was forced to apologise publicly - but that didn’t stop him from building…

Business: Building the Social Network that Connected the Planet
 

Almost immediately after the Facemash scandal, Mark started writing code for a new website he launched the following semester from his Harvard dorm room.

The site, which went live on 4 February 2004 was called "Thefacebook", originally located at thefacebook.com.

Mark was helped to launch the site by his college roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes.

But just six days later, three Harvard seniors, Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss and Divya Narendra, accused Zuckerberg of stealing their idea.

Following the official launch of the Facebook platform, they filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg that eventually led to a settlement for 1.2 million shares worth US$300 million at Facebook's IPO!

They say it’s all about execution - but that’s not bad return for an idea! 


Mark and the founding group then introduced Facebook to other college campuses and it expanded rapidly.

In the following years, he received a number of attractive offers from the likes of Yahoo ($1 billion) and Viacom ($1.5 billion). But he refused to sell.

And Mark's patience paid off.

Because Facebook reached one billion users by 2012 and held its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in February of the same year.

It became the fastest company in the S&P 500 to pass a market capitalisation of $250 billion in 2015 and passed 2 billion users in 2017. 

And only Mark knows what's next!

3 Things You Can Learn from Mark Zuckerberg 

Zuckerberg is not the world's most popular man.

He's been accused of invading people's privacy and for giving users the freedom to violate intellectual property rights and spread fake news.  

But there's no doubt that he's now one of the most powerful men in the world, with the ability to shape public opinion across the globe. 

And much of what he's achieved has come through his vision, persistence and the ability to learn quickly from his mistakes and the world around him.

Here are 3 things you can learn from Mark Zuckerberg to upgrade your learning and life.

1) Do The Easy Things First…And Reap the Rewards

“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.”    


Zuckerberg didn’t set out to build the world’s biggest social network and connect over a billion people.

He started off by creating a social network for Harvard students. Then for all college students. And then for the whole world.

And as Facebook grew, Mark focused on one thing…more growth. That was the one thing he cared about and if something didn't help growth it was cut.

People often fail because they don’t identify what’s important and end up doing too many things.

Learn to prioritise like Zuck and you might not become the world’s 5th richest man, but you’ll certainly go to bed having done more than most other people!
 

2) Keep Trying and Learning…Even When Things Go Wrong

"Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough."


Perhaps one of Zuckerberg’s best-known mantras is “Move Fast and Break Things” which was plastered on the walls of the company’s offices in the early days and even featured in the paperwork for the Facebook IPO.

Sometimes this mindset has got Mark into trouble.

He could have allowed the response from Harvard about FaceMash to derail his efforts to build a social network.

The failure of Facebook’s Beacon social advertising program, which came under scrutiny because of privacy concerns could also have thrown him off track.

But he kept moving fast and moving forward.

Apply the hacker mindset, which is a pillar of Zuckerberg’s ethos at Facebook to your learning and life – just try stuff and learn from it.

If you upset people ask for forgiveness – but don’t let fear or perceived lack of permission stop you from trying in the first place!

3) Put Your Words into Action…Or They’re Hot Air

"People don't care about what you say, they care about what you build."


Zuckerberg has spoken repeatedly about the importance of having a mission - his is to connect the entire world!

But it’s not enough just to talk about your mission. You have to implement it.

Zuckerberg takes steps everyday to make his mission of connecting the world a reality – from the way he runs Facebook, to his work with Internet.org and his work at his charitable foundation, The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

For someone to really take you seriously, you need to put your beliefs into practice on a daily basis! Have a mission, but put actions behind those words – otherwise they’re just hot air.

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