Whether you’re interested in computing, business, wealth creation, or just the power of ideas, then the Mark Zuckerberg story has got to rank highly on your ‘give me inspiration’ list.
The things that I find interesting about the man are not so obvious as you might think, however.
We can all find out the basic facts about him from an endless variety of sources. Born on 14 May 1984, he was brought up in New York State. It is well documented that he learned computer programming in middle school and that his father employed a tutor to help him. Zuckerberg was referred to as a ‘prodigy’ by the tutor, which would have indicated a bright future regardless of the direction he was to take.
The story lends itself well to Zuckerberg being thought of as a ‘geek’ or ‘nerd.’ The reality is somewhat different. At Phillips Exeter Academy he was an exceptional student of classic literature and a highly skilled fencer – hardly geek material.
It’s interesting to consider some of his earlier computer projects. His father was a dentist and Mark created a system he called ‘ZuckNet,’ the purpose of which was to allow their home computers to communicate with computers at the dental surgery by ’pinging.’ The fact that during his school days Zuckerberg was producing pre-cursors to some of the great technological systems later brought out by the big corporations is fairly indicative of his great talent.
While at High School, he also created what he referred to as the ‘Synapse Media Player.’ It used artificial intelligence to learn what the listening preferences of listeners were. At this point Microsoft and AOL tried to purchase the system and to pursuade Zuckerberg to work for them. The bind boggles at what a different world we may be living in had he accepted rather than electing to go to Harvard University.
Facebook’s beginnings can be traced back to Zuckerberg’s Harvard dormitory room on 4 February 2004. Granted, he didn’t do it alone, but I find it incredible that in 3 short years he became at billionaire at just 23 years old. It is not this that amazes me the most, however, about the Zuckerberg story. If you consider the prevalence of greed in the world and look again at the Facebook figures – some 500 million users by 2010 – it seems somewhat paradoxical that money and certainly that level of money, was never Zuckerberg’s primary motivation. He became a billionaire at 23, without money being his main concern.
If you believe in manifestation, gratitude and living to serve, then Zuckerberg has got to add some serious weight to your beliefs. There is a quote that I love from him which appeared in Wired magazine in 2010: “The thing I really care about is the mission, making the world open.” What a fantastic endorsement of a life not given to greed and of the benefits that it can bring, almost by magic.
I am not about to claim that by serving and searching for the quality in whatever you do you will experience a Facebook scale revelation. I will, however, advocate the principles of Zuckerberg and suggest that finding your work and carrying it out, without undue focus on results, will result in your life being far more fruitful and meaningful than it otherwise would have been. The Zuckerberg story is about following what you know is the right path.