Updated: Sep 21
In many ways, Mark Zuckerberg changed the way we meet and interact online through his social media platform. A little knowledge about his early life points toward a genius who had always embraced his unique abilities and followed his passion, despite the many challenges he faced.
The former Havard student was born on May 14, 1984, in White Plains, Newyork. Between age 10 - 12, he was already solving communication problems by channelling his love for programming, when he developed a program for his family called “Zucknet”.
“Growing up, one of the neat things was that [my dad’s] dental office was actually connected to our home,” Zuckerberg said via a podcast with Reid Hoffman. “The dentists and hygienists needed to share data on the patients. So I built a system where he could communicate with folks across rooms, and also communicate with me and my sisters upstairs—and I called it ZuckNet.”
This early adventure into the world of technology and entrepreneurship served as a springboard, which launched him into Harvard University, where he studied psychology and computer science.
In 2003, Mark developed a program called Facemash to rate the pictures of Havard students, only for it to be shut down a few days later due to infringement of rights. From the failure of Facemash, however, Mark and his friends, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, created ‘thefacebook’ in 2004.
Mark’s determination to “give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected" led to Sean Parker (Napster’s founder) being named as president in 2004. Sean’s experience provided the stability and direction Facebook needed in its early days, culminating in a change of name (to Facebook in 2005) and an investment of over $12 million by venture capital firm Accel Partners the following year.
On 28 October, 2021, Facebook changed its name to Meta, closing the Q4 2021 with a net worth of $124.879 billion. The healthy bank balance and name change show the incredible growth and success Facebook/Meta has enjoyed since its early days, but it is perhaps Mark’s ability to take risks and overcome challenges which underline his success story.
Mark Zuckerberg has only had one job: CEO of Facebook. His lack of experience in corporate management and operations in the early days of establishing Facebook led to being called names like “Toddler CEO”.
His personality trait, “a shyness that easily came across as cockiness,” also prompted many to doubt his ability to navigate and sustain a fast-rising start-up. Through it all, Mark kept churning out ideas and innovating at Facebook, changing how people connect online. In the first decade, Facebook moved through a series of innovative additions, expanding user offerings beyond what other social networking platforms were offering. From introducing ‘Like’ buttons to restructuring profiles to show on a ‘Timeline’, Mark let his ideas and audacity do the talking.
Much of Mark’s success comes from being smart. For example, he speaks several languages, including Latin and Mandarin. However, it is some of his habits, like wearing the same outfit every day (a grey T-shirt and a pair of jeans), which makes him and his advice to entrepreneurs relevant.
Here are some of them:
Entrepreneurs should “start with the problem that you’re trying to solve in the world” because “the best companies that get built are things that are trying to drive some kind of social change, even if it’s just local in one place.”
Entrepreneurs should get started on their ideas instead of waiting to have everything figured out. In his words, “waiting to have it altogether prevents you from starting”.
Entrepreneurs should forge meaningful relationships because connections matter. “You become the people you surround yourself with,” Mark says.
As an entrepreneur, innovator, husband and father, Mark Zuckerberg is always pushing the boundaries of possibilities. This approach to life makes him a risk-taker. As with everything in life, the higher the risk, the reward.