Do any of us ever really know what we’re doing? We get a thought, a hunch, an idea. Sometimes, we get a full- fledged vision. If we’re smart, if we have all or some or none of the necessary resources, if we have enough guts, enough belief, enough people telling us we can, enough people telling us we can’t, we go for it. Then, what we go for, becomes something we probably could never have imagined. When Oprah Winfrey would interview people experiencing a major break-through, a dream come true, a phenomenal success, she would ask, “Is it bigger than the dream? Is it bigger than you imagined?” This whole phenomenon that is Facebook hit me a short while ago; so, I thought I’d explore it. Since it popped into my awareness, I figured there must be a message in it for me, especially since, right after that, Zuckerberg and his wife garnered media attention with the birth of their first child and their Giving Pledge. I saw that as a bit more than coincidental. So, I first examined what FB is and the impact it has had on the world. Now, I’m thinking about how it all happened.
• It started with a kid who found something that interested him, and parents who supported that interest.
• This kid was afforded the freedom to explore and the opportunity to expand his mind, like learning several languages.
• He honed his craft, developed his talents and skills through unconventional means, even ditching college.
• He didn’t sell his first product to the first bidder, nor to the highest bidder.
• He created more products, kept building and perfecting, making mistakes along the way.
• He accepted an investment, but also invested in himself.
• He got a mentor, Steve Jobs, and followed his advice to find the spiritual connection to his vision.
• He made a decision, shut down the naysayers, weathered the storms, and saw it through.
I’m not trying to make Zuckerberg out to be some kind of saint, but you have to admit, there’s a potential model of success in this story. Even if Facebook crashed tomorrow; if not another person chose to reunite with a long lost loved one, FB has made a major impact on how people of the world connect. Yeah, it’s providing a platform for merchants to sell a lot of crap, promoters of events to reach their audiences, interest groups to lobby for support, but it is not only connecting people on a physical level of friending, grouping, liking, sharing, posting, commenting, but at the level of humanity, it has extended an opportunity for those of us who will to see a bit of ourselves in each other and glimpse our oneness. If MZ and his wife do not give away one cent of the 45billion, through whatever means they choose – it is their money by the way, a great feat has been accomplished, whether intentional or accidental. To clarify, what they’ve announced that they’re giving away, over their lifetime, is 99% of their shares which are, today, valued at $45B, not cash money.
I would venture to say that he did not know, not even as he walked away from one staggering financial offer after another, the potential of FB. He, according to Steve Jobs who praised Zuckerberg during an interview, held fast to his vision of creating not just a product but a business, a company. What each of us who has a vision, a dream, can take away, is to hold fast to our vision. Zuckerberg did not listen to those who professed to know technology more than or as much as he did, who made educated guesses about the future of social media, who projected the fickle interests and trends of his intended audience and all but counted out a major segment of the now User base. He dared to keep it moving. He dared to blaze new trails.
So what, if you don’t know what you’re doing. So what, if you can’t see the end. There were times when Zuckerberg, Jobs, and others like them could not see the end. It is said that during their “touch patches”, tech titans like Jobs, Google’s Larry Page, and Jeffrey Skoll, co-founder of eBay, each made the pilgrimage to the Kainchi Ashram in India. It was Jobs who told Zuckerberg that he needed to “reconnect with what I believed as the mission of the company”, and to do so, “I should visit this temple that he had gone to in India, early on in his evolution of thinking about what he wanted Apple and his vision of the future to be.” The trip, which lasted a month, “reinforced for me the importance of what we were doing”, says Zuckerberg.
The spiritual founder of the ashram, Neem Karoli Baba, is said to have held a very simple philosophy, “all one.” Perhaps it was the ashram experience and exposure to that philosophy which confirmed for Mark Zuckerberg that he was on the right path. Perhaps, his desire to create a means by which people from all over the world could connect, was to fulfill his purpose of providing the world with an experience by which we would come to see that we are, “all one”.
It doesn’t matter that, at first, he probably had no idea what he was doing.