Career Advice From Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg and what he has accomplished in launching Facebook is nothing short of miraculous. He is truly the visionary CEO of our generation.

From his dorm room at Harvard, to Silicon Valley and everything in between, he has led his social network to become not only one of the most valuable companies in the world, but a necessary means of communication.

After falling in love with the film The Social Network, I started reading a book called “The Facebook Effect” by David Kirkpatrick. It’s an incredible insight to the life of Facebook, and has actually been a career motivational tool to some extent.

Kirkpatrick brings up many topics, but I’ve found many underlying themes that I think are very important to today’s young professional.

Don’t Let Your Job get in the Way of Your Career

I think this is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard. Zuckerberg’s job, in this case, was a student. He ended up dropping out of Harvard to focus full time on Facebook. However, it still took a while for Facebook to become his career. He had multiple side projects he was working on even after he was a millionaire from Facebook. His job became Facebook, but his career has always been connecting people through technology.

Don’t take your eyes off the big picture. Don’t decide on your career right after college, because chances are you’re going to change jobs a few times. Don’t get stuck doing a job you hate when you have other career aspirations.

Don’t Ever Stop Evolving and Learning

“Facebook is like fashion. Fashion is never finished, constantly evolving,” is one of my favorite quotes from The Social Network. One of the most interesting parts of the book is about the evolution of the “News Feed” feature on Facebook. I remember when it was first introduced and I hated it. So did hundreds of thousands of people who joined groups titled, “I hate the new Facebook,” or something like that.

What these people, and I, didn’t realize was that it was the evolution of the News Feed that allowed us to discover these groups in the first place. Facebook keeps being relevant because of the constant evolution.

And Zuckerberg keeps learning from Anti-Facebook groups. They revamped security features because of posts they were able to see on groups criticizing the News Feed.

Don’t Sell Out

One billion dollars. That’s what Yahoo! offered Mark for Facebook. He didn’t flinch. He doesn’t care about the money. He lived for years in a one bedroom apartment in Palo Alto with nothing but a mattress, book shelf and kitchen table. This created a huge problem with initial Facebook investors who were obviously in it for the money and would have profited massively from the sale to Yahoo!.

Zuckerberg genuinely cares about making the world more connected. His visionary quotes in this book are absolutely phenomenal, and he knows Facebook would have gone downhill under Yahoo!. His ability to turn down the money has made our connections via Facebook more valuable.

Don’t Live Multiple Lives

We all act differently around our friends, family, teachers and even online. But Zuckerberg stresses that you should only have one identity. “The days of you having a different image for your work or friends or co-workers and for other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly… The level of transparency the world has now won’t support you having two identities of a person. Having multiple identities for yourself is an example of lack on integrity.”

Your parents are right when they tell you that you should delete certain Facebook photos, but just realize that you are to a certain extent creating another identity for yourself.

Mark Zuckerberg is not only one of the world’s youngest millionaire, but he is truly the visionary of our generation. He has created the world’s most popular website and he did it pretty much by himself. He’s very socially awkward, but understands online social interaction better than anyone out there. His journey with Facebook is a career model that crosses all industries, and we can all learn from this journey.

 

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We Got To Learn To Read

I did it. It took me six months, but I did it. For the first time in over two years, I read an entire book for pleasure. What was this book about? How we, as a population, can’t read anymore. Definition of irony.

I’m a college student. I’m obviously literate.  This book isn’t discussing the loss of the actual ability to read; it’s about losing the ability to focus our entire attention to a single piece of literature, or anything for that matter, for an extended period of time.

The book is called “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains,” by Nicholas Carr, and it says the Internet is what is causing our inability to read. I think he makes a very interesting point. The Internet is feeding our need for information input on a level that books, or any other medium, cannot provide. How many different links do you hit when surfing the Internet for ten minutes? 15? 25? Even 50? Books can’t keep up. They’re too boring.

“I can’t get my students to read whole books anymore,” says Katherine Hayles, a Duke University professor- an English professor. She teaches literature.

Personally, I know I haven’t ever read an entire class’s reading assignments for the whole semester. I would love to hear from a student who has. I’ve had classes based on reading books and writing papers on these books. Never read all the assignments.  I can’t do it. When I do try to read, my mind can’t focus on the page. I find myself with that “What did I just read about?” thought at the end of many pages.

“Sitting down and going through a book cover to cover doesn’t make sense,” says Joe O’Shea, a philosophy major, former student body president of Florida State, and a 2008 recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship. “I don’t read books. I go to Google where I can absorb relevant information quickly.”

If the Internet is changing the way we read, it’s certainly changing the way we write.

When was the last time you checked out a book from a library? In my four years at Mizzou, I’ve checked out a total of two books for two paper assignments, and that’s only because a hard reference was required.  I’m a humanities major and I just flat out don’t check out books for references. Google is just way too efficient.

“I stopped assigning traditional research papers after the Internet boom,” says Bob Flanagan, who has been a professor of Religious Studies here at Mizzou for over 25 years, “and began assigning essays requiring critical reflection on more specific aspects of the course.”

Carr compares the Internet to technological advances like the map and the clock that have completely changed the way we perceive the world around us, but with much more negative consequences. We don’t need to think any more because computers do it for us.

“As we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.”

Want more information on this subject? Google it.

Netflix Can’t Be Stopped

It’s happening more and more all the time. Industries in America are experiencing sweeping  technological changes that not only change the way an industry works, but change people’s everyday lives. Podcasting for radio, DVR for television, Amazon for shopping, to name just a few. But the one that’s had the biggest and most interesting impact by far is Netflix in the film industry.

What started out as a simple mail-order DVD service has become, in my opinion, the best at-home entertainment option. I can’t think of a company that has grown quicker and smoother than Netflix. Started in 1997, then first publically posting revenues for the year 2003 of $272 million. That’s not bad for a 6 year old company. Still chump change compared to their 2009 revenue of $1.67 billion. I bet it’s at least at 2.5 billion now. (All these stats and all following stats are from Wikipedia and/or my brain. And yes, both are reliable sources.)

More impressive than dollars and cents is the market presence and effect on the entire movie industry. Blockbuster had an opportunity to buy Netflix early on. They didn’t, and now they are bankrupt with $900 million in debt, and owned by DirecTV. Part of this is due to Redbox, but I believe Netflix is the real finisher. Redboxes do keep popping up, but the truth is that sooner or later all movie rental will be digital whether it’s a pay-per-view service or monthly subscription online streaming.

And that’s where Netflix turned the corner from a convenient way to get movies to major industry player. You can now stream over 10,000 movies online, and  over 20,000 TV Episodes. With rough estimates, it would take you over 3 years straight to watch everything that is offered on Netflix instant. 20% of the internet bandwidth usage during prime time every night in America is used for Netflix watch instantly.

In my opinion, the reason Netflix is literally on top of the movie industry is it’s wiliness to spend the money to get the shows and movies people want to see. All the technology, customer service, speed, convenience is nothing unless they have the products that people desire. They partnered with Starz in 2008. Last year, they paid $1 billion to stream Paramount, Lions Gate, and MGM for the next 5 years. Add that to the numerous TV and delivery rights with just about everybody, you have a company that knows what the people want (everything) and knows how to get it (money). The first few seasons of the mega hit TV show Mad Men is going to be streaming in July. The price? Nearly $1 million… per episode.

Ready for Netflix to turn the next corner? That. Just. Happened. In March, they reached a deal with a new show from this-year Oscar Nominee director David Fincher and Oscar Winning actor Kevin Spacey called House of Cards to establish their first original streaming program, beating out heavyweights HBO and AMC. That’s right, you don’t have to set your DVR, you don’t have to wait for it to pop on Hulu, you’ll find it instantly, ready to watch, 24/7, ONLY on Netflix… first. Wikipedia has all the juicy details about this huge deal, but one I found most interesting is that Netflix will do absolutely nothing to advertise for it, claiming the only advertising they need is the algorithm that recommends shows to customers based on their watching patterns.

Look for a business model, and you got it in Netflix. Aside from the whole “If you stream it, they will come” method, their employee culture something unheard of. They offer unlimited vacation time for salaried workers, and the option to have any amount of their paycheck in stock. I hope when I apply to work at Netflix in a year or so they see this post… but seriously.

Although technological advances change industries constantly, what Netflix has done in the last 10 years is nothing short of phenomenal. They took the Hollywood and put it in their own hands. It’s not unreal to think that in the next couple years, Netflix will have a whole fleet of original television programming. The only question is… what else will it do?

This is My Brain on Technology

Am I Dumb? Nah. Am I Shallow? Ehhh…. Maybe.  Two books that I plan on reading this summer sure do think so. “The Dumbest Generation” and “The Shallows” are two social commentary books about my Generation Y and how our brains have been trained to be, well, useless.

Like I said, I’m writing this before reading the books, and I’m going to give you all a review once I get finished. But here’s some of my thoughts now on the subjects presented.

The way my mind is trained and conditioned is so short term, relying on instant gratification. Because of this, it can be really difficult for me to sit down and read a book. The book I’m attempting to read for pleasure now is “The Big Picture: Money and Power in Hollywood,” and it’s really good. I’m still about half way through it when I’ve been on it for about three months. If it’s hard for me to read for pleasure, then it’s really hard for me to read for class. My mind gets so distracted, and after a little while I can’t focus at all.  Then I just end up surfing the web. I stopped reading at night (but that’s because of Netflix). I sometimes can’t even focus on a movie. I catch myself browsing on my phone, checking Twitter, even playing Angry Birds. And that’s when I don’t have my laptop out.

It could be ADHD, but I know it’s not just me. One of my friends checks Facebook on his phone when he’s at a stoplight. I don’t think he’s addicted to Facebook, I think he just gets too bored at a stoplight. Our generation has become so easily bored because we are used to constant going, constant activity, and constant entertainment.

It’s not just the constancy of everything. We are trained to have every one of our questions answered immediately, and this is hindering our critical thinking skills. When I have an argument with a  friend whether it be about sports, history or anything else, the argument is solved immediately by Google, or there’s an App for it.

Can you imagine traveling without an iPod? I remember using a cassette walkman on trips to Utah. I would be so bored and impatient if that was today. Very limited selection and also having to fast forward to the song I want. Flights over oceans would be so long! We are truly in a new age of constant and portable entertainment, and it might be having serious effect on our ability to think and reflect.

One day this summer, I’m going to throw it all away and go back to basics. No phone, no iPod, no computer, no internet, no TV. Of course there are going to be exceptions to this (using my phone as an alarm clock, or the computer at work), but for the most part, I’m going cold turkey. I’ll read, sit outside, reflect, whatever. And try to remember what it would be like to live before the technology boom. It’s going to be rough.

After I finish my books, I’ll give a review and reflection. The big question is: Will I even be able to finish?

An Apple a Day…

We are talking about Apple quite a bit in my Marketing 3000 class, from product innovation, to advertising, to brand identification. But where I fit in with the Apple conversation the most is brand loyalty. I get it from my mom, original Mac-addict. I bought her a shirt for one of her birthdays that says “I owned a Mac before it was cool.” No statement is truer.

I’ve always used Apple computers. When I was a kid, my friends would make fun of me for it because I couldn’t play all the cool games. Brand loyalty is a funny thing. I worked for MillerCoors after my senior year of high school, so I rarely drink Bud products (recently turned 21, so I can talk about drinking Mom, it’s okay). Brand loyalty in that aspect can be expected, but what is it about Apple? I can pretty much swear to you right now that I will never ever own another computer that is not a Mac, or another phone that isn’t an iPhone. It’s scary to think about.

Chasing technology sucks. I recently received my 3rd iPhone for my birthday. I got one for senior graduation, then my mom’s 3G when she got a 3GS, now the 4. It’s a weird feeling having what is widely considered the best phone out there. I remember with LG’s and Razr’s how I couldn’t wait for my contract to go up or my phone to break to get a new one. Now this is it. I have it. I think I’m on only my 2nd iPod. The classic white one with the 4 buttons at the top for 8th grade graduation, then a new video some time in high school, maybe my junior year that we got discounted with a new computer purchase.

I can sit here and talk about how much better Apple products are than everything else, which they are, but I think there is more to brand loyalty than enjoying phenomenal products. Is it because these products are what I’ve grown up with and what I’m used to? Maybe. But I think there is seriously some psychological stuff going on here. If Apple fails to improve any of their products in the next 15 years, I will still use them. Only recently has Apple really jumped ahead of the curve. The iPod is less than ten years old, and only after that did the brand leap forward. Any other brand can just as easily take over the mp3 and mobile phone market. The new Droids are pretty freaking sweet. Does that matter? No. I will always use Apple. I admit this. It kinda sucks because it doesn’t matter whose the best, all that matters is that little half-eaten apple on the back of my product. That’s it and that’s all.

I often think about my grandma. When her sewing machine broke, there was literally no way to fix it because they haven’t been making the part for the last 30 years. She was generously given an antique machine to replace it by her friend because she did not want a brand new one. She knew what she had and was comfortable with and there’s no way of talking her into getting a newer fancy one. I’m thankful for everything I have and I try not to take any of it for granted, but it can be difficult to live simply in this world. Heck, right now I’m on my laptop at a coffee shop in Columbia, charging my phone and playing games with friends on it all at the same time. Is the art of language and the written word bng lost w/ all the txtng n speed of society? Some could argue so. Keeping this blog is a nice way for me to try to stay in touch with the written word and language. But sometimes I see younger kids talking back and forth on facebook and I wonder what they think language really is. I heard in some grade schools they stopped teaching kids how to write in cursive. This amazes me. There’s typing classes k-8, and soon enough all the kids will have laptops of their own. Weird to think about how the hand written word is dying faster than the Kansas football team.

So those were pretty random thoughts, but that’s why it’s in the “random thoughts” category.

GameDay Saturday! MIZ