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Alogarithm Still Photo from The Social Network

Where Mark Zuckerberg Got it Right

I finally watched The Social Network last week and was very impressed with this film.  I take it for what it is and nothing more: just a film based on a book based on true events.  For me, there is one major takeaway from this movie that was probably lost to most in the ensuing drama.

I’m not a fan of Mark Zuckerberg, despite the fact that we share a first name and his accomplishments are very impressive.  I do not know him personally or enough about him to form an opinion one way or the other.  When I meet him, then I’ll let you know.  What I can say is that Mark Z. got it right, and by it, I mean the core concept behind all entrepreneurial effort.  The creation and propagation of Facebook into a world-wide phenomenon is the result of one word: Action.

Consider the sequence of events:

  • Mark Zuckerberg creates
  • He is approached by the Winklevoss twins and Divya Narendra, to create a dating site for Harvard students
  • He immediately springs into action and creates
  • According to the film sequence, he does not meet again with these guys and launches

IP property theft argument aside, the lesson here is action. Mark Zuckerberg obviously knew exactly what he wanted to create. Rather than wait for the concept to develop, to have meetings and planning sessions, he took the idea and ran with it, non-stop, until he had, now known as Facebook.  However you may perceive Mark Z., it is this single word, action, as depicted in the film so effectively, that made the difference between him and everyone else who was thinking about developing their own social networking sites.  In this era of technology and business, you cannot wait for an idea to develop, you must act on it before someone else does.

Do you know who came up with the idea of regenerative braking**, as introduced to the masses in the Toyota Prius? I did. Yes, you read that right, I did. In the mid-1980’s, my main mode of transportation was a bicycle. Riding around on a bike gave me a lot of time to think. I considered that the energy used in braking could somehow be captured for use in powering headlamps after dark, or other electrical devices. Of course it was just an idea, and I was, at the time, in no position to develop or exploit it. However, someone had the same idea and ushered in a new era of automotive technology.

Action is everything! It is the difference between the dreamers and those who succeed. My buddy, Napoleon Hill, wrote the following in his seminal work, Think and Grow Rich (emphasis is his):

“…after having analyzed thousands of people, I discovered that MOST IDEAS ARE STILL-BORN, AND NEED THE BREATH OF LIFE INJECTED INTO THEM THROUGH DEFINITE PLANS OF IMMEDIATE ACTION. The time to nurse an idea is at the time of its birth. Every minute it lives, gives it a better chance of surviving.”

If that does not describe Mark Zuckerberg’s creation of Facebook, than nothing does. He got it right.


** According to Wikipedia, regenerative brake technology was actually introduced by AMC in 1967, though I can say that I had never read or heard of it before. The point is, many people can synthesize the same idea independently of  each other.