Everyone knows Mark Zuckerberg as the famous Harvard University dropout who created Facebook.
Well, he made a return to the university – this time as the invited speaker at their commencement address for this year’s graduates.
On a rainy afternoon at the lawns of Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg addressed the class of 2017 as he shared about his life as a student, as well as the change that the current generation is capable of.
Mark Zuckerberg Talks Purpose
“I’m not here to give you the standard commencement about finding your purpose. We’re millennials. We’ll try to do that instinctively.”
He began by citing the famous story of how a janitor at NASA told then president John F Kennedy that he was helping put a man on the moon when asked what his job was.
Now, with the advent of technology, purpose holds a very different meaning that it did in our parents’ generation. For the millennials of today, finding purpose is the easy bit. To create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose though, is the real challenge.
Don’t Always Depend On The Big Companies For Change
“I know a lot of you will have your own stories just like this. A change in the world that seems so clear you’re sure someone else will do it. But they won’t. You will.”
When Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm, connecting the world was still a faraway dream that he and his friend Kang-Xing Jin (now a director in Facebook) had.
That job to connect the world was assumed to have fallen to all these big technology companies, who have equally large resources. But in spite of knowing that there are bigger players out there, Mark and KX continued working on their product day after day.
Even when these large corporations wanted to buy them out, he refused because he wanted to see if he could connect more people, especially with the imminent launch of the first News Feed then.
Take Part In Projects Bigger Than Yourself
“First, let’s take on big meaningful projects.”
It’s no secret that automation will mean that traditional jobs will be phased off sooner or later. Despite that there is much potential in working together for the purpose of something greater.
Mark gave examples on significant moments in history where people have gathered for the common good. How 300,000 people worked to put a man on the moon, how millions built the Hoover dam, and how millions more volunteered to immunise children worldwide against Polio among many great projects.
Work On That Idea
“The idea of a single eureka moment is a dangerous lie.”
The constant depiction of how great people succeeded because of one bright spark is something that movies and pop culture get wrong according to Mark. And since many of us haven’t encountered that eureka moment, it could make us feel less of a person.
Simply having a good idea is enough. Ideas are great, but they will only become better if you work on them.
“Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started. “
If you want to be idealistic though then you will also have to prepare to be misunderstood, and be called crazy even though you are working on the right things. You will be criticised for taking initiative and moving too quickly too, because there will always be people who are trying to slow you down.
Do Not Be Afraid Of Failure
“The greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail.”
Gone are the days of just having a stable job like our parents did. Today’s world is fueled by entrepreneurship, and this new entrepreneurial culture is what fuels the progress now.
But it can only thrive when it’s easy to try out new ideas. One thing that people tend to forget is that people do fail. Before Facebook, Mark developed games, chat systems, study tools, and music players.
To add on to his point, he highlighted the likes of JK Rowling when she was rejected a dozen times before publishing Harry Potter, and Beyonce who had to write hundreds of songs before finding success with ‘Halo’.
Mark Zuckerberg Finally Gets His Degree
After giving his speech, the world’s fifth-richest person was also bestowed an honorary degree from the university, some 12 years after dropping out of school, to finally fulfill the promise he made to his parents.
Fellow Harvard dropout Mr Bill Gates also got his honorary degree in 2007, after leaving the school in 1975.
For now though, it seems that Facebook is concentrating its efforts on creating original content, so you can be sure Mr Zuckerberg will be back at it, trying to connect more people in the world.
If you’d like to catch up on his full address, read it over at his Facebook Note here.