An American internet entrepreneur, philanthropist, and media magnate, Mark Zuckerberg is well known for co-founding Facebook. He is the company’s controlling shareholder and serves as its CEO and chairman. Mark also co-founded Breakthrough Starshot, a development project for solar sail spacecraft, and is one of the members of its board.
Mark went to Harvard University, and on February 4, 2004, launched Facebook from his dormitory room, together with roommates Chris Hughes, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, and Dustin Moskovitz.
The site expanded rapidly and reached one billion users by 2012. In May of the same year, Mark took the company public with majority shares. He became the world's youngest self-made billionaire at age 23 in 2007. As of July 2021, Mark was the 5th-richest person in the world with a net worth of $132 billion.
Read on to find out what makes this entrepreneur tick and discover the rules that he still applies to this day to achieve his success and fame.
You Get What You Spend Your Time Doing
Mark says that his first rule is to focus. He thinks that everyone basically gets what they spend their time doing. Mark wants Facebook to build 3 products this year, and there are also a few other products they’re going to work on because people are interested in them. He will however mainly focus on those three things that he has identified and will be spending his productive time on those.
You will get out of anything what you are prepared to put into it.
Mark gives the example that if you spend 30% of your time working on making the people around you better, and you do this by recruiting better people, mentoring them, helping them to become better, moving the best people in your company to roles that have more impact, then he believes that over time this effort will accrue and you end up with a much better organization.
Facebook has for seven or eight years had a tradition at the company, where they have a Q&A session every week during which employees can come and ask Mark any question that they want to about what direction the company is taking or what’s going on in the company. They can also ask questions that their friends who use the product are asking them, or about things that they are reading about in the media.
This has really been a very important tradition for Facebook. Part of it is because Mark really believes in communication and openness and that is ultimately what Facebook is all about, but it is also important for Mark and for the running of the company that they get feedback, and that the team is able to find out what’s on people’s minds.
Mark says that he needs to know what his employees and team members are thinking about, and there have been many times that people ask good questions that have changed the way they think about what they’re building and what they’re doing in the world. Based on the questions asked during the Q&A sessions, they have often re-evaluated and changed how they do things and how they approach different problems.
Another side benefit of these sessions is that people feel valued and they feel that their contribution to the company makes a difference, especially if they see that their input has resulted in changes being made. This is a major way in which employees can be motivated, and this will in turn lead to increased productivity, while also reducing staff turnover.
Many things can wrong when you start a company, and you are sure to make many mistakes along the way. Mark says that the question people most often ask him if they want to start their own business is, ‘What mistakes should I avoid making?’
Mark’s answer to this question is that they shouldn’t even bother to try to avoid mistakes. No matter how hard you try not to, you’re going to make lots of mistakes.
The important thing is not to avoid mistakes – we all make them all the time. The trick is to actually learn from whatever mistake you make quickly and not giving up.
During Facebook’s existence, there have been a number of things every single year that could have killed the company, or it would appear that they were simply moving forward without making any progress. To survive these types of situations you have to adapt and bounce back, and then you learn that anything is possible.
You simply have to run through, around, or over any obstacle that gets put in your way.
Hire People You Would Work For
Mark uses an expression that I must admit that I’ve never heard before: “A players hire A players and B players hire C players”. This means that good people hire other good people, but that people that aren’t that good hire even worse people.
Mark says that he would never hire a person that he wouldn’t work for himself. He thinks that’s a really good philosophy. When hiring people, the biggest problem is that you don’t actually know how good they are. You would actually think that they are good or else you wouldn’t have hired them, but sometimes you’re still trying to figure out how good they are.
The philosophy of only hiring people that you would work for works well for Mark as he believes that if you use this criterion, then you know how good the person is.
If he thinks he wouldn’t be able to work for a person then he would hire that person simply because he needs to fill a role urgently.
Change the World
When anyone starts something new, it’s incredibly difficult. To be able to succeed you need to be pretty headstrong. There will be many challenges that suddenly come up, and Mark thinks that the best thing that anybody can do is simply not to give up but to push through no matter what happens.
Before you start, you need to be very clear in your mind about what you want to do. The best and most successful entrepreneurs out there don’t start a company because their end goal is simply to build a company.
They start a company because they have a vision of wanting to change the world, and helping people.
Mark thinks that if you stay true to that vision while simply focusing on powering through any challenges that will without a doubt be put before you, then you will discover that there are not only many available tools, but also a lot of people that will be willing to help you build whatever you’re building.
Learn from the People Around You
Mark’s definition for a good team is that it is a group of people that are able to make better decisions jointly than what they would be able to do individually as a sum of the parts.
Most smart people love learning new things and that’s one of the best thrills you can get when starting a company.
The learning curve is often extremely steep and if you manage to set up a team dynamic that allows you to constantly learn from the people around you then there’s nothing better.
Having a group of people like that makes Mark want to wake up every morning to go to work to learn from them. Mark says that when you’re building a team you need to constantly be aware of these dynamics so that you are able to maintain the property that allows the team to make better decisions as a group than what any individual would be able to.
When Mark started Facebook, he had a very simple idea and focus. His goal was never to create a massive community site. It was to create something where anyone could type in someone else’s name and find a bunch of information about them. It took Mark a few days to throw Facebook together and it was launched on February 4, 2004.
In the previous tech bubble, many websites were run on very expensive machines, which meant that anyone wanting to start a website had to first go and raise money before they could even start doing anything. Mark originally ran Facebook for $85 per month.
Give the Very Best Experience
Facebook is constantly faced with the question if they should try to optimize newsfeeds to give each individual, every single one of them, the best possible experience when they’re using the site, or if they should try to help businesses to reach as many people as they can. In every decision Facebook makes, they optimize for the individual rather than for the businesses.
They make it so that the people they serve, the people that use Facebook and read the newsfeeds, get the very best experience that Facebook can provide.
This means that if businesses share content that will be useful for Facebook’s users, then they’ll show that content. It however also means that if a business shares content that won’t necessarily be useful for the users, Facebook may not show it as it is probably more important that their users learn about a friend who has had a baby and that the baby is healthy.
This is an important guiding principle for how the Facebook team thinks about things, and as they continue to develop products there will be more people that want to share more things and Mark’s team will continue trying to do their best to show the best things that they can.
Mark’s advice to business owners that are thinking about using their free page on Facebook is to simply focus on publishing really good content that will be compelling to the people that are following them and their customers.
Care the Most About It
Mark has spent a lot of time analyzing and trying to figure out why they were even able to make Facebook work as well as it does. All the facts actually indicate that they should not have been able to do it.
This is because many other companies have far more servers, and engineering power, and money, and time, and all sorts of other stuff.
This is actually very instructive for anything that an entrepreneur wants to start doing because the same will probably be true for mostly anything they want to start. There will always be someone else that will have more resources. Mark thinks that the reason why they actually ended up being the ones that managed to do it is because they simply cared way more about it than anybody else.
In the early days of Facebook, many skeptics felt that this couldn’t be a business. Early on, Mark and his team didn’t actually care much about Facebook being a business. This turned out to be one of the main reasons why bigger companies didn’t invest in it in the beginning because it was by no means clear what a suitable business model for it would be.
Mark believes that this is true for many of the best ideas. It is not so about others not being able to do it, they actually can, and especially in the beginning, the odds are stacked very heavily against you. Often the belief and the fact that you care so much about what you do are the only things that drive you to do it. For Mark, that caring for his business still drives him to this day.
Mark thinks that most of the reason why great stuff gets made is because that although it seems irrational at the time, it works at the end of the day because the people that care about doing it the most are doing it.
Social Bonds Are Critical
The other students around Mark when he was in high school and in college were really important to him. A lot of the people who started Facebook with Mark are still with him today and are running the company. These are people he met when he was at Harvard. They had both academic and social bonds and Mark can’t overstate the importance of that enough. Those bonds are totally tied into Mark’s whole philosophy and the product that he spent his life building. They all believe that social bonds are crucial.