Haven’t you often heard people saying “If you want to achieve something great like Mark Zuckerberg, then do not complete your graduation.” Well, people cannot say this anymore because on 25th May, 2017 his alma mater, Harvard University awarded him with an honorary doctor of law degree and it was in some style. He became the youngest commencement speaker in the history of Harvard University after he delivered his speech. In his thirty three minute long speech addressed to the ‘Class of 2017’ he spoke about his college memories and how purpose was important for the progress of the world. Dotted with light humour and high on emotion throughout, this speech by Zuckerberg is something no one should miss.
This speech gives us an insight into the internet entrepreneur’s mind. One would think being the computer programming genius he is, he would be spending majority of his time coding but believe me there is more to this man than only Facebook. Let us have a detailed look at what he wanted to convey to the ‘Class of 2017’ as well as the entire world.
1.Stay humble no matter how big you make it in life
One can see Zuckerberg’s humbleness even before he steps onto the podium. He could just have shaken hands formally with the presenter but he chose to give him a warm hug instead. One might feel this gesture is redundant but a warm hug does boost the morale of a person significantly. Especially when the person hugging you is Mark Zuckerberg you ought to feel special. This is the level of humbleness one must aspire to maintain. Often these inadvertent gestures from us can end up meaning a lot to people around us.
At the start of the speech he says that he felt honoured to be standing amongst a batch of people who could do something that he never could. He even goes on to say that he felt that he was an unlikely speaker not only because he was a drop out but also because he felt that he was in the same generation as the recent graduates. These simple words speak volumes about the man’s humbleness.
2.Always be nice to others
He shares his memories of his first lecture at Harvard. As he was getting late for his class, he wore a t-shirt inside out and backwards without realising it. Seeing him dressed so weirdly none of his classmates talked to him except one Kang Xiang Jin. Jin did not mind his strange attire and decided to strike a chord of friendship with him. The reward for being nice can be seen today as Kang Xiang Jin is in charge of a big part of the Facebook Application and is one of Facebook’s oldest employees.
3.Have a purpose in life
This is the topic on which this speech primarily focuses. He says that its not enough just to have a purpose in life. He wants this generation 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 feels lack of purpose is causing many people to feel depressed and disconnected from the society. The rate of crimes in the world, the number of people addicted to drugs would all decrease if people are motivated to do something. This is why having a purpose is so essential.
4.Believe in yourself
Zuckerberg shares his memories of the night he launched Facebook. He says they were excited with the idea of connecting the Harvard community but they had never thought that one day they would be able to connect the world. He had just assumed that one of the big technology companies would come up with something to create the world. However the idea and mission to connect the world was very clear to him and his mates. Today we all witness the extent to which their self belief and confidence has brought them to.
“There were all these big technology companies with resources. I just assumed one of them would do it. But this idea was so clear to us — that all people want to connect. So we just kept moving forward, day by day. 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.”
5.No idea is perfect, work on it to make it perfect
He urges people to start working on their ideas. He tells people that movies and pop culture have tainted our thought process due to which we feel inadequate and inferior if we do not get a fully framed idea.
“Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started.”
“Movies and pop culture get this all wrong. The idea of a single eureka moment is a dangerous lie. It makes us feel inadequate since we haven’t had ours. It prevents people with seeds of good ideas from getting started.”
He cites examples from his own life, from the making of the Hoover dam and from man’s mission to moon to prove his points. These words are highly inspiring to everyone who aspires to be an entrepreneur.
“Every generation has its defining works. More than 300,000 people worked to put a man on the moon – including that janitor. Millions of volunteers immunized children around the world against polio. Millions of more people built the Hoover dam and other great projects.”
6.Be prepared to be misunderstood
This is a very valid point in today’s context. With the growing global population its almost impossible to satisfy everyone’s wishes. No matter what our motive maybe there would always be a few to oppose us but that should not prevent us from continuing with our work.
“It’s good to be idealistic. But be prepared to be misunderstood. Anyone working on a big vision will get called crazy, even if you end up right. Anyone working on a complex problem will get blamed for not fully understanding the challenge, even though it’s impossible to know everything upfront. Anyone taking initiative will get criticized for moving too fast, because there’s always someone who wants to slow you down.”
7.Do not be afraid to fail
The fear of failure is something which prevents many of us from embarking on our journeys towards greatness. He feels everyone should have the freedom to fail and come up with something better next time. Citing examples from his own life and the lives of J.K. Rowling he tries to urge people to take up entrepreneurial roles in the society without getting afraid.
“In our society, we often don’t do big things because we’re so afraid of making mistakes that we ignore all the things wrong today if we do nothing. The reality is, anything we do will have issues in the future. But that can’t keep us from starting.”
“Now, an entrepreneurial culture thrives when it’s easy to try lots of new ideas. Facebook wasn’t the first thing I built. I also built games, chat systems, study tools and music players. I’m not alone. JK Rowling got rejected 12 times before publishing Harry Potter. Even Beyonce had to make hundreds of songs to get Halo. The greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail.”
8.How we can contribute to the society
There are lots of people in the present society for whom life is not so easy. They have to deal with racial discrimination, poverty and many other social evils. Zuckerberg wants us to help such people by not only contributing money but also by spending time with them. He himself takes out time from his gruelling schedule and takes classes on entrepreneurship at a local Boys and Girls Club.
“We can all make time to give someone a hand. Let’s give everyone the freedom to pursue their purpose — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because when more people can turn their dreams into something great, we’re all better for it.”
9.How we can change the world
Zuckerberg believes that its our generation which will change the world for the better. Modernising democracy so that people can vote online, devising methods to stop climate change are some of his visions for the future . He says that this change would start locally and depend on our ability to build communities where every single person has a sense of purpose.
“Change starts local. Even global changes start small — with people like us. In our generation, the struggle of whether we connect more, whether we achieve our biggest opportunities, comes down to this — your ability to build communities and create a world where every single person has a sense of purpose.”
Image credits- Google Images, Dailymail, Facebook
Also published on Medium.