Losers before making it big

tempo di lettura: 5 minuti

Look at this picture: if you didn’t know that this is Mark Zuckerberg, you would think: “who’s this loser?”

Kitsch plastic slippers, baggy jeans, sitting on a hub between a box and a photocopier, with an expression that conveys everything but charisma and self-confidence on his face; the classic nerd, who would have certainly been part of the “Lambda Lambda Lambda” brotherhood together with Skolnick, Boogerand Poindexter in the famous ‘80s movie.

Nevertheless, under those “nerd” guise, harboured the fire of a terribly ambitious and determined geek who had a mad desire to success, probably animated by the will to avenge, mocking the world outside: those gym-dudes who always looked down on him in the corridors of the college or university and the hotties that had never considered him.

Same circumstances that occurred on December 7, 2005, when Mark talked about his Facebook in a half empty classroom in Harward: in front of him he had just a handful of students from the CS50 course, to whom he explained the progress of his platform which – it is good to remember – was still reserved for students of affiliated schools and universities at that time, while the following year it was open to everyone.

Although the lesson should focus on the more generic topic of computer science, the questions for Zuckerberg were almost all about Facebook’s business potential, to which he replied listing a whole series of nodes that he had to solve immediately “to make sure that the project would not stop in a few months».

In this sense, one of the most important choices was definitely focusing on scalability for the growth of the platform and the creation of a separate MySQL databases for each affiliated school. Moreover, during his speech, Zuckerberg said some things that, reread today, evaluate what it means to have to lead the development and the growth of a startup from the beginning:

  • He uses most of his time hiring people
  • With “just” 50 employees, he had organized what he called “the CEO’s office hours”, a time window when all his collaborators could visit him and talk about the projects they were working on.
  • Facebook had reached 400 million page views per day, compared to Google’s 250 million
  • They were not focused on how to profit immediately, but they worked to maximize the long-term value.

The facts of the following months are already on the history books and currently the Mark Zuckerberg we know today is among the richest, influential and required men on the planet, totally used to make keynote speeches in front of audiences that are made by human being and now are more and more transmedia, reaching both television screens and smartphone or tablet displays on a global scale.

We now are in front of this 4.0 latest version of Zuckerberg, but I’m ready to gamble that in order not to lose touch with reality, he is the first to be aware that he should never forget the Mark in that picture and, with that, all the difficulties he had to face, starting from the many “no’s” he got before finding someone willing to believe in him, even before his project.

When we work incessantly on something we believe in, very often resigning ourselves to an “upwind” life and a thousand sacrifices – even in economic terms -, our best allies are exactly those ones who tell us “no”.

At first it’s difficult, yes, but each “no” was a sort of jolt that, added to another and another again, was necessary to “align the planets” of our challenge: I fully realize that it’s not easy to understand, but trusting ourselves when we believe in what we do is the only way to transform all those “no” into a wave of “yes”, giving back to the rightful owners all the crap they made us swallow.

With interest, of course.

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