A Lesson Zuck Taught Me

I recently read The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World by David Kirkpatrick. I thought it was a fascinating book. Although I’m not in Silicon Valley and I’m not running a tech company, I think there was a lot to learn from this book.  I’m not talking about the start in your dorm room or follow your love type of stuff. I’m talking about something much more valuable. I’m talking about focus and confidence.

Mark Zuckerberg had multiple opportunities to make himself a very rich man very early on in the life of Facebook. Opportunities that would have saved him from headaches and a lot of work down the road. Opportunities that would have let him work on new projects without worrying about money.

But Zuck had a vision of the future for Facebook. He had a vision for what it was meant to bring to the world. So regardless of the exit options he was offered with, regardless of the dollars flashed in front if him, he stayed on plan with a focus and confidence to take it where he knew it could go. His focus and determination continue to move the company forward.

The wording in the Amazon.com review say it well. “Kirkpatrick shows how Zuckerberg steadfastly refused to compromise his vision, insistently focusing on growth over profits and preaching that Facebook must dominate (his word) communication on the Internet.”

Facebook’s IPO.  How many expected, how many wanted to see the Facebook IPO flop?  This was all still a part of Zuck’s focused march toward his goal.  Today he sits at #11 on the Forbes 400 list as the biggest dollar gainer of the year after his Facebook stock has soared, adding $15 billion to his net worth in the past year.  I think he’s done something right.

Have there been failures along the way for Zuck.  Yes, of course there have been.  That’s part of the whole story.  But in the end he knew what he wanted, he knew what he needed to do to get there and he kept his focus.  I’m anxious to watch how the rest of the story unfolds for this man, this company and this industry.

So what can you and I learn from this?  Is it that when we have come up with another “best idea ever” we give it all of our focus and march forward no matter what?  Hoping that it all works out and ignoring any advice or guidance that might tell us we are on the wrong track? Of course not.  One of the most valuable things a business owner can do is surround herself with others that are smarter than she is.  Others that have experience, that can give advice and guidance.  Zuck hasn’t done everything on his own without help, input and guidance from mentors.  What he has done is known where his company could go and kept his focus on getting it there.

We have squirrels everywhere that distract us from focusing on the most important things that will make ourselves and our companies successful.  On our journey to success, we need to have our goals, to have the end in mind.  But most importantly, we need to be able to keep our eye on the target, to keep our focus and to know what needs to be done to get there.  Distractions and opportunities will try to pull you away.  For Zuck, some of those distractions were opportunities to put millions of dollars in his pocket.  But his goal meant more to him than those dollars and he knew that when he achieved his goals there would be extra zeros added to the dollars in his pocket.

Focus.  Work hard.  Work smart.  Commit yourself to your goal.  It won’t be the amount of time you spend at the office that matters, it will be the amount of time that you spend in focused concentration working towards your goal.  Good luck!

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