Five Lessons Entrepreneurs can Learn from Mark Zuckerberg’s Speech at Harvard

Mark Zuckerberg

“Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started. If I had to know everything about connecting people before I got started, I never would have built Facebook.” –Mark Zuckerberg

Recently, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg was awarded an honorarium degree by the famous Harvard University. A university where he dropped-out many years ago.

While speaking at the Harvard’s 366th Commencement on May 25, Mark expressed his honour to everyone present, particularly the graduates. According to him, they had achieved a feat he couldn’t.

“Let’s face it, you accomplished something I never could. If I get through this speech today, it’ll be the first time I actually finish something here at Harvard.”

Interestingly, Mark Zuckerberg, who is now the sixth richest person in the world — with an estimated $63.4 billion fortune — dropped out of Harvard University 12 years ago to build Facebook. The company later turned out to be world’s most famous social media platform. Obviously, this is not a common feat for something that initially started as a dorm room project to connect Harvard students. Having 1.94 million monthly active users as of the first quarter of 2017, Facebook is now a giant global company with a $407.3 billion market cap.

The 33 year old Mark Zuckerberg received an honorary doctorate from the university prior to his speech rendering. A little introduction gives away the young Mark,who is not only an American computer programmer but also an Internet entrepreneur. The latter could give us a hinting on why he co-founded Facebook, and currently operates as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Being a man of his stance/reputation, here are vital lessons every entrepreneur should totally adopt from his speech at Harvard.

Call to Purpose

In a more serious tone, Mark Zuckerberg called on Harvard students to create a sense of purpose for the world. According to him “Finding your purpose isn’t enough. The challenge for our generation is to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose. Purpose is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness.” he said.

How true it is to follow purpose as against profit. Today’s business owners need to understand the essence of a purpose driven venture as against a profit driven one. The truth is, Profit follows Purpose! Like the wind Profits come and go, they are never stable without the anchor of Purpose, which lasts for long and almost for posterity. Purpose keeps you focused and resolute to your vision. It enables you to weather every economical storm that might be against your tide.

Think of it, when a client knocks on your door for a product/ service, your first attention shouldn’t be drawn to what the client would offer rather your focus should be on what brought the client to you–his needs. Failure to meet that purpose/need would result into you losing that client and missing out on what he could have offered–Profit!

Take Action on your idea

One of the major points Mark Zukerberg struck was to just get started and not worry about failure. To buttress on his point, Mark illustrated with an important lesson that could be learnt from him. His promptness to respond to a seemingly vague idea he once had — Facebook. “Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started. If I had to know everything about connecting people before I got started, I never would have built Facebook.” he says.

The rich young founder  understood the potential embedded in every idea, hence when he was struck with  the idea of using the internet to connect people, and not just computers, he never wavered. He swung into action immediately.

Just as Mark Zukerberg launched, it is very imperative to act swiftly upon any worthwhile idea that strikes your mind irrespective of how vague it may seem. Since Ideas rule and transform the world, your idea could just be the next solution to pervading problems in the society. You might not have laid your hands on something substantial, just get started anyway.

Starting small with a strong vision

Many intending business owners are not willing to start small. There is nothing wrong in starting small, as a matter of fact little drops of water yield very large oceans. Mark Zukerberg started small in his room but he believed in his vision of connecting all people in the world.  “This is my story too – a student at a dorm connecting one community at a time and keeping at it until one day we connect the whole world,” he said.

He continued building the software and found success while still a student at Harvard University. Thereafter, he developed a strong vision and belief to the extent that he dropped out of school to pursue his dream. From his speech we could learn that in order to accomplish that vision within, you do not need to figure out everything forthright. Mark Zuckerberg continued innovating in small chunks, adding incremental features to Facebook and consistently moved closer to his strong vision.

Passion and preparation

Being a Harvard student who was passionate about computers, Mark Zukerberg was specifically interested in programming. His passion led him into learning and trying new things while waiting for the right opportunity to strike. He learned and became prepared with excellent coding skills. In case you do not know, Mark didn’t just stick to what came to him or what he learnt in school. He pushed himself further by doing some personal work part of which included his learning coding. But, reverse seems to be the case nowadays. Although, we have many young and passionate potential entrepreneurs, the fact remains that they lack preparedness.

Be audacious in the face of adversities

Like day and night, hard times are bound to come. But as the saying goes, tough times do not last, only tough people do. The question then is, how tough can you be? Mark Zuckerberg spoke of how his personal sense of purpose drove his decision to build Facebook — and also his decision not to sell the company when he had a chance early on, this frustrated many of his team members at the time because they didn’t share his vision.

“A couple years in, some big companies wanted to buy us. I didn’t want to sell. I wanted to see if we could connect more people. We were building the first News Feed, and I thought if we could just launch this, it could change how we learn about the world. Nearly everyone else wanted to sell. It tore our company apart. After one tense argument, an advisor told me if I didn’t agree to sell, I would regret the decision for the rest of my life. Relationships were so frayed that within a year or so every single person on the management team was gone. That was my hardest time leading Facebook. I believed in what we were doing, but I felt alone. And worse, it was my fault. I wondered if I was just wrong, an imposter, a 22 year-old kid who had no idea how the world worked.”

Many would be surprised that Mark Zukerberg had hard times. Yes, he did! Every entrepreneur is sure to have one but the lesson here is that a commitment to purpose will always make every mountain surmountable. Regardless of the hard times Mark Zuckerberg had, he never gave in. Rather he waxed stronger and better basically because he was following Purpose and not just Profits. Every business venture must be tested by the tides of time during economical storms, but the anchor of Purpose will always keep the sail of that business sailing stronger regardless.

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