On the eve of Facebook’s IPO, as I finish my copy of “The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World” by David Kirkpatrick, I have learned a lot about Facebook’s young CEO and got many insights into what makes him the formidable leader he has grown into.
So I thought I’d put down the things that impressed me most about Mark Zuckerberg.
1. He has a vision
His vision was that of a more open and connected world. And throughout the growth of Facebook, he has stuck to his vision of a product that offers value while connecting people and building a world with more empathy.
Right from the beginning, the frugal-living Zuckerberg was never in it for the money. He had a larger vision and not only thought ahead of where he wanted to take Facebook, but pushed himself and his team to put all their creativity into their work.
2. He goes beyond his comfort zone
To be a good leader, to go places, you must be willing to go further than others have and do things others won’t. He worked his ass off, did things he was uncomfortable with (like travelling across continents to speak to audiences about his vision) and did what had to be done to build his company.
3. He is willing to make mistakes
From the privacy fiasco to the newsfeed, Zuckerberg was willing to take risks, and often had to backtrack on changes that did not work. But that did not dampen his appetite for innovation and part of Facebook’s philosophy is to innovate, so we can safely assume that he will continue to do things that don’t always go down well with some of its users.
4. He is willing to face criticism
While many young people would have withered in the face of the very public criticism, including having a rather unflattering movie made about him (The Social Network), he took it like a champ, even taking the staff for a screening of the movie.
5. He adapts to situations quickly
When he faced growing criticism over privacy allegations, Zuckerberg caved in to public opinion, giving users more control over their privacy. He learned quickly how much user experience mattered and adapted his decisions to be more inclusive of them.
6. He doesn’t need to control everything
A lot of innovation at Facebook happens with the interaction of the users, as in the translation application, which happened without Zuckerberg’s direct influence. He knows when to guide policy and when to give up control. That is what has made Facebook a network created in part with the help of user interaction.
7. He builds the right relationships
From someone who had few friends (as portrayed in The Social Network), to hobnobbing with the likes of Peter Thiel (Paypal) and Sean Parker (Napster), Zuckerberg has, from the start, built connections and relationships with the bigwigs of Silicon Valley. If you believe that you are the sum of the people you are closest to, then Mark Zuckerberg is certainly in very good company.
© Priya Florence Shah