Facebook has received a fair bit of flak and bad press in recent years. Having said that, the platform is a wonder in its own right. Making such a solid and ubiquitous social network takes immense vision. When used correctly, it can do wonders for social good. Facebook can help voices get heard, skills shared and noticed. It enables exchange of ideas every single day. That we let our general lack of nuance and inability to be measured on the internet come in the way of all the good the platform can do says more about us than the platform.
For this reason alone, Mark Zuckerberg is a success story like no other. He has achieved what very few people have, by way of bringing together communities and voices of average, everyday citizens. It takes will, vision, and most importantly, a lot of discipline to change the world the way Zuckerberg has. A few lessons that I could garner from his schedule, lifestyle, and story follow.
Quick decision-making as a time management tactic
The world and its third cousin know that Zuckerberg wears the same outfit everyday. He doesn’t waste time on decisions that are not important to him. I don’t believe in the idea of wearing the same outfit every day, and I know many others who like to dress well too. But the important lesson here is that based on your, or your organization and team’s priorities, there are some decisions that need a lot of thought – and some that don’t.
The balance between thinking and brainstorming and getting things done is a fine one, and I find people crossing over to the wrong side very often. It is important that teams and managers understand how unnecessary pontificating comes in the way of time management. Analysis and brainstorming, when required, must also come with a deadline. If they go on endlessly, there is something broken in the system.
Taking action is important in order to get things done
A fall-out of endless analysis is that work remains undone. Often, you don’t need to have every last data point to take action on a project or decision. The result may not always be perfect, but at least you got started!
Facebook’s constantly tweaked interface, and new apps and features that get tested in real-time before getting discarded or becoming perfect, are all signs of Zuckerberg’s bias for action. As Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and one of the most respected forward-thinkers of our generation, puts it, “If you decide that you’re going to do only the things you know are going to work, you’re going to leave a lot of opportunity on the table.”
Success can plateau, your ideas don’t have to
It is easy to be so taken in by the kind of success great ideas can bring that you just revel in it and stop innovating. It has happened many times over, with sportspeople and musicians, film stars and technology innovators. But some of the best Silicon Valley founders and innovators have found a way to stay relevant even as their first big wins plateaued. Bill Gates had his heart in philanthropy; Bezos is a funder of ideas that are changing the world as we know it, including names like Airbnb and Uber.
Zuckerberg too constantly ensures that Facebook doesn’t plateau like most other social networks did. From democratizing Internet access to countering the fake news epidemic and helping small businesses grab eyeballs with Facebook’s constantly evolving ad platform, the network constantly proves that it is much more than a place for travel pictures and restaurant check-ins.
If the last 10 years of Zuckerberg’s public life are anything to go by, it seems clear to me that he is just getting started. Watch closely – the life lessons from his story are yours for the taking.
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